Hiking with Kauai Eco-Tours.
On first glance, half-brothers Peter Artley and Kimo Hawk seem as
different as night and day. Shorter, stockier Peter has an engaging
high-energy aura about him, while tanner laid-back Kimo looks every
bit the island boy. But they’re equally passionate about Kauai and
its nature, culture and history, making them the perfect partners
for a new venture called Kauai Eco-Tours.
Launched in January 2007, Kauai Eco-Tours leads clients on
hiking adventures to areas of the island that visitors might not
discover on their own. Catering to all levels of endurance, their
options range from gentle forest paths, to trails along the
dramatic 3,000-foot-high Na Pali Coast, to the lush upland routes
of Kokee State Park.
I joined the brothers on the four-mile Kuilau Ridge tour, the
most popular of their trips because of its relatively gentle
“There’s a reason Kauai is called the Garden Island,” said
Peter. “Everywhere we go there’s so much growth and beauty. We try
to make each hike an adventure for our clients, and along the way
we help them understand what a special place Kauai is.”
While Peter spent his college and early professional years in
Los Angeles, Kimo stayed on Kauai and learned it like the back of
his hand. When Peter returned to the island for family visits, he
always hiked and explored, and eventually the brothers decided to
join forces on a visitor-oriented company that reflects their
mutual love of the great outdoors.
Peter Artley (left) and Kimo Hawk.
As we walked, the brothers shared their wealth of Kauai knowledge,
pointing out, for instance, invasive species and native plants. We
tasted wild edible fruit like raspberries, mountain apples and
guava (“a great source of vitamin C,” said Kimo). Kimo told me to
put my hand under the flower of an awapuhi (wild ginger) blossom;
squeezing a thick liquid out of it and into my palm, he explained
how it’s a natural shampoo and conditioner for the hair.
Mango, monkeypod, albizia, eucalyptus and swamp mahogany trees
surrounded the path as it rose slowly from the 500- to 1,140-foot
elevation. We marveled at kukui trees, whose nuts the ancient
Hawaiians used for fire; hao trees, whose wood was used to build
outrigger canoes; hala trees, with leaves ideal for weaving; and ti
plants, long a symbol of good luck.
“The early Hawaiians were incredibly resourceful, making the
most of the materials around them,” said Peter. “We embrace the
same idea by buying and using only local supplies.”
With that, he opened his pack at a scenic stopping point and
laid out a delicious spread of island-made edibles: fresh mango and
pineapple chunks, banana chips, Kauai granola bars and poke
(marinated raw fish), all of which we savored while gazing at
spectacular views of 5,200-foot Mt. Waialeale. Often a tree, flower
or plant reminded Kimo of a Hawaiian legend, from the tale of the
ohia-lehua tree to the myth of the mountain range called Sleeping
Giant. Equally fascinating were his stories of growing up on the
island, from memories of May Day celebrations as a child to more
recent experiences during Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
Kauai Eco-Tours appeals to clients with an urge to explore the
real Kauai, without any tourist trappings. While it’s best for
people who are physically active, the excursions can be customized
to meet each guest’s needs. “We try to get to know our clients
beforehand either on the phone or by e-mail, so we can tailor the
tour and make the experience good for everyone involved,” said
The brothers bring along a camera and snap digital images that
they e-mail to their clients after they’ve returned home.
Peter and Kimo hope to expand the company’s offerings to include
other activities, but only if they’re self-propelled, like mountain
biking and kayaking. In the future the brothers hope to provide van
service, perhaps biodiesel. They pride themselves on their mobility
as a company.
“We don’t have an office, which lowers our impact on the
environment,” said Peter.
Similarly, they try to protect the environment of their home by
organizing hikes to restore trails, clean up litter, remove
invasive species and help reintroduce native plants.
“Clients who join us can feel good knowing they’re helping to
keep Kauai beautiful,” Peter said.
Hikes take place on weekday mornings and afternoons on request.
Rates begin at $65 per person, with the Kuilau Ridge Tour priced at
$75. Rugged and longer trips are more expensive. Other options
include trails around Kokee State Park and to the top of Sleeping
Giant mountain. Island-style snacks and water are provided on all
excursions. Rates are commissionable (call for details).