Welcome to Birdquest
Birdquest's Hawaii birding tour explores these beautiful islands with their largely endangered endemic landbirds (including the Hawaiian Honeycreepers, sometimes considered a distinct family), their interesting seabirds and migrants such as the rare Bristle-thighed Curlew. Our Hawaii tour has the most comprehensive itinerary available in the islands and consistently produces a high proportion of the islands' specialities.
Monday 15th April —
Friday 26th April 2019
Leaders: a Birdquest leader and local bird guides
Group Size Limit: 9
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations
Halfway across the Pacific Ocean, north of the equator, lies the Hawaiian archipelago, consisting of 122 islands and spreading 2400 kilometres across the Pacific from Kure Atoll and Midway in the northwest to Hawaii in the southeast. The term Hawaii usually refers to the eight main islands: Oahu, Hawaii proper (also known as Big Island), Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Niihau.
Captain Cook brought the islands to the attention of the rest of the world in 1778, but Polynesian explorers had settled these volcanic peaks long before him. In the mind of most Europeans, Hawaii stands for the white sandy beaches of Waikiki, beautiful hula-dancing, flower-covered girls, the battle of Pearl Harbor, breaching Humpback Whales, surfers riding immaculate waves and its melodic language, full of vowels and repeated syllables. Few people realize that the 50th State offers many unique natural phenomena, including the world’s most active volcano (Kilauea) and the world’s tallest mountain if measured from its bottom on the sea floor (Mauna Kea), as well as extraordinary volcanic mountain scenery, luxuriant forests, extensive lava flows and semi-deserts, remote beaches, cascading waterfalls, pounding surf and turquoise waters. Hawaii is a place of great contrasts: altitudes range from sea-level to 4205m and annual rainfall from more than 10m on Kauai to only a few centimetres on some of the leeward beaches of the Big Island!
For naturalists the main attraction of Hawaii lies in the extremely high percentage of endemism in the local fauna and flora (amounting to about 90%). Hawaii boasts an endemic bird subfamily: the Hawaiian Honeycreepers or Drepanidinae (sometimes treated as a full family, Drepanididae), the finest known example of the process called adaptive radiation, wherein a varied array of species evolved from a single ancestor. The Hawaiian Honeycreepers range from tiny, drab-coloured, nectar-feeding, warbler-like birds to large, brightly-coloured, thick-billed seedeaters; others creep along trunks and feed with peculiar decurved bills or pick at the bark.
Since man settled in the islands the honeycreepers and other native birds have fought a losing battle (starting with the extinction of a number of flightless birds soon after the Polynesians first settled), as most of the lowland forests were destroyed and introduced alien plants and animals proved to be serious pests. Worst of all was the unfortunate introduction of mosquitoes in 1826, as they provided a vector for avian malaria. The endemic species were unable to cope and many species have become extinct. The survivors (17 species out of 55) of this catastrophe are mainly found above 1300m elevation, where mosquitoes are less numerous, but even so most of the honeycreepers are endangered (some critically) so time is of the essence if one wishes to see Hawaii’s surviving endemics.
During our tour of Hawaii we will make a special effort to try to see as many of the surviving endemic species and other Hawaiian specialities as possible. Time is running out for Hawaii’s birds, so time is of the essence if you wish to see these vanishing species.
Our birding will begin on the island of Oahu, the third largest island of the chain and the most populated one, with bustling Honolulu as its capital. Hawaiian Duck, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Stilt, Bristle-thighed Curlew, White Tern, Oahu Elepaio and Oahu Amakihi are the main attractions here.
From Oahu we will travel to Kauai, the ‘Garden Isle’. Kauai has a central mountain range which receives more than 10m of rainfall a year, making it one of the wettest places on earth! Here we will concentrate on the forested mountains of the interior, which are the perfect habitat for a series of endemics including Kauai Elepaio, Puaiohi, Anianiau, Akekee (or Kauai Akepa), Kauai Amakihi and the rapidly declining Akikiki (or Kauai Creeper). Along the coast we can expect Laysan Albatross and White-tailed and Red-tailed Tropicbirds, while a pelagic trip may well turn up Newell’s Shearwater and Hawaiian Petrel.
Maui will be our next port of call. This is the second largest island and is formed by two mountains connected by a low isthmus. The crater of the world’s largest dormant volcano harbours the endemic Nene or Hawaiian Goose and is a nesting site for the Hawaiian Petrel, while lower down the woodlands are home to Hawaii Amakihi and the endemic Maui Creeper, and even the rare Akohekohe and Alauahio (or Maui Parrotbill).
Finally we will explore Hawaii, which is also called ‘Big Island’. This is the youngest of the islands, with several very active volcanoes producing impressive lava flows, while exciting endemics like Hawaiian Hawk, Omao, Palila, Hawaii Amakihi, Iiwi, Apapane, Akiapolaau, Hawaii Creeper and Akepa reside in the remaining forests.
Birdquest has operated tours to Hawaii since 1998.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are comfortable and of good or medium standard. Road transport is by minibus, car or 4x4 vehicle. Roads are mostly good.
Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are two optional harder walks, one moderate on Maui and one fairly demanding hike on Kauai. The latter, for the more endangered species, requires good balance and involves a slippery trail, and some crossing of fallen trees and streams.
Climate: Rather variable. It is typically warm or hot at lower altitudes, but at high altitudes we can expect cool weather. Some rain is highly likely.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
Prices are provisional
Tour Price: £4050, €5060, $5670 Honolulu/Honolulu.
Price includes all transportation (including all flights within Hawaii), all accommodations, all meals, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room Supplement: £683, €854, $956.
Deposit: £450, €550, $650.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate
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