Hawaii Hiking the Aloha Isles

tours / Adventure

Highlights

  • Walks through endemic rain and bamboo forests
  • Active volcano craters of Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Big Island
  • Historical trails
  • Stunning beaches and coral reefs
  • Hiking the famous Na Pali Coast - North Shore of Kauai
  • Sunrise and crater hike through the lava desert of Haleakala National Park, Maui

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Rising out of the deep blue waters in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Islands are one of the most diverse and rewarding of the South Sea destinations, and a world away from the USA Mainland. Isolated from any other landmass, these islands were created by continuous lava flows and shifting tectonic plates on one of the earth's major hot spots. Over time, wind and currents brought plant and animal life that created a unique endemic ecosystem with over 6,000 species that can only be found in these islands. Our land explorations will lead us to the famous and hidden natural treasures of Hawaii – white, green and black sand beaches; giant craters, frozen lava lakes, lava sputtering volcanoes, stunning waterfalls, and ancient rock art sites. Our paths will lead to incredible viewpoints overlooking the famous North Shore of Kauai, through tropical swamps and cloud forests, and the stark lunarlike landscape of Haleakela National Park in Maui. There is also ample time to enjoy the magnificent beaches and coral reefs, many known only to locals. With a little luck, we may snorkel with sea turtles and swarms of colourful tropical fish, or see humpback whales and pods of spinner dolphins.

What's included

  • 13 breakfasts, 12 self made lunches
  • 2 internal flights
  • 7 nights in 2-3 star accommodation
  • 6 nights in condo accommodation 2-3 bedrooms with private facilities
  • Private transport in 15 passenger vans
  • Entrance fees to national parks
  • Highly trained driver/guides
  • Most guided walks

Itinerary

Day 1 Join Kona
Welcome to the most isolated population center on the face of the earth! Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time) and there is no daylight savings time. Under-sea volcanoes that erupted thousands of years ago formed the islands of Hawaii. On arrival in Kona please transfer to your hotel which will be advised to you before your departure; we will be staying 3 nights at this hotel. There is an airport shuttle service which is approx. $30 pp. The rest of the day and evening is at your leisure.
Day 2 Polulu Valley and Kohala Coast
At 8:00am your guide will welcome you at the hotel. Of all the islands, Hawaii, or The Big Island, is known for its authentic atmosphere. This Island has preserved much of its original Hawaiian character and culture. Not only is the Big Island by far the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, it is also the most diverse, offering active volcanoes, vast coast lines with white, black and green beaches, rain forests, giant waterfalls, lava deserts and ocean hot springs. With our local knowledge, we will explore many hidden sites, hike to remote beaches full of sea turtles, hike into the heart of an active volcano, and with a little luck get REALLY close to lava. Today we explore one of the most remote valleys of Hawaii, the wild and remote Polulu Valley. We hike to the bottom of the valley and explore the wild beach. In the afternoon we explore the dry Kohala Coast, where we stop at Puukohola and Lapakahi, both remarkable sites of ancient Hawaiian temples, where human sacrifice were performed. We walk along the shore, hopefully seeing turtles resting on the wild beaches. Dinner finds us at a local hang out, the iconic Lava Lava Beach Restaurant, where we hope to enjoy a classic Hawaiian sunset. Several shorter walks. Hiking today is approx. 3-4 miles / 5-7 km return, (2-3 hours).
Day 3 City of Refuge and Captain Cook's Memorial
Today we will explore the fabulous “City of Refuge” or “Pu’uhona O Honaunau” National Historical Park, which houses a picture perfect Polynesian Village perched on lava cliffs. We have time for some shorter walks, a crawl through a lava tube, a tour of the village and a swim/snorkel on one of the islands’ best reefs, before we look at the bay of Captain Cook’s Memorial, where he was slain. In the afternoon we can choose to do a guided kayak trip (approx. $100), boat tour to see dolphins, or the world famous snorkeling excursion with manta rays! (approx. $100 pp) or explore remote beaches north of Kona. Several shorter walks. Hiking today is approx. 2-3 miles / 3-5 km return, (1-2 hours).
Day 4 Waipio Valley and Mauna Kea
Nearby we find yet another wild Hawaiian valley, once the most important Polynesian settlement on the Islands, and one of the Island’s iconic hikes. We descend 300m/900 ft. into the Waipio Valley, where Hawaiian people still farm taro the traditional way. Then we continue to the picturesque village of Hilo. Our hotel is ocean side. In the evening we prepare for an exceptional excursion to Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in Hawaii, rising 4205 m (13796 ft) above sea level and if measured from the ocean floor, 10,000 m! Mauna Kea is one of the 5 hot spots in Hawaii, and due to its clear skies one of the world’s best locations for astronomical observations. A rugged, steep road leads to the top of the mountain, where we find rare tropical alpine tundra complete with permafrost and in certain months of the year, even snow. We drive to the Onizuka Visitor Center at 2800 meters/9300 ft, where rangers pull out telescopes at night to show us the night sky. If the group desires, in certain months of the year, for about $100 (optional), the group can choose to rent a 4x4 van to drive to the very top of the mountain to enjoy stupendous sunsets. (This excursion is not always possible due to weather and permitting issues.)
Day 5 Volcano National Park
Over the next two days we explore Volcano National Park, and the surrounding areas, at the foot of Mauna Loa, the world’s largest shield volcano. This National Park is remarkable as it sits on the actual hot spot where islands are being born, producing never - ending volcanic activity and eruptions. (Check conditions online at www.nps.gov). Trails lead through massive, cooled craters, steep banks venting sulfurous gasses, and fern covered lava tubes. This is truly a primordial landscape, raw and still in the making. Our daytime walks will take us along Kilauea Crater’s Rim, clad in cloud forests of tree ferns and native Ohia. The views are spectacular. Then we descend into the heart of Pele’s domain – Kilauea Iki Crater and walk over a frozen lava lake before continuing through the dark Thurston Lava Tube. We may wait for the evening to see the lava lake glow. Various walks between 4 - 6 hours per day , +/- 300m elevation gain; daily activity will depend on the actual location of the lava flow. If at all possible we will walk at night to the lava flows as a top priority.
Day 6 Akaka Falls and night time Lava Walk
Each year the most active lava vent, Pu’u ‘O’o, chooses a different path to disgorge the viscous hot lava into the ocean. Should the lava flow inside the park, we will return the park, where rangers control the night time lava walks. Should the lava flow outside the park, we recommend that the group hires a local guide to safely guide us as close as possible to the lava flows. You can choose to book an optional heli flight over the lava flows. Then we will explore the impressive Akaka Waterfall on a short walk as well as the remote Puna area complete with ocean hot springs (small entry charged) before we engage in the night time lava walk (the local guiding company charges approx.. $100 pp for the guided lava walk. A local guide allows us to get very close to the actual lava). We should be back at the hotel late at night. Various walks between 4 - 6 hours per day, with little elevation gain and loss, however the lava walk will take place over broken terrain and sharp lava, proper balance is required, as well as a well functioning head lamp and sturdy shoes. The sharp lava will damage the soles of your shoes. This walk is optional.
Day 7 Green and Black Sand Beaches of Kohala
Heading back to Kona we soon reach Punaluu Beach, a well known black sand beach, where turtles rest. Then we continue to the wind swept southern most point in the US. We walk dirt tracks towards the famous Green Sand Beach, created by Olivine Crystals from ancient volcanic eruptions. We return to Kona for one last night. Accommodation tonight is a hotel in Kona, Royal Kona, 3*, or similar (1 night). 5 m / 8 km, 3 - 4 hours walks over cliffs and beaches.
Day 8 On to Kauai
We take an inter island flight to Lihue on Kauai and transfer to our hotel. Kauai is called the Garden Isle and considered by many to be the most beautiful of the Islands. Kauai is also the oldest Island, where volcanic activity has been dormant for over 1 million years. Erosional forces have created a truly stunning landscape of sheer volcanic cliffs and spires. The afternoon is reserved for you to enjoy the local beaches. Our accommodation is the Aston Aloha Beach Resort 3* 3 star or similar, for 3 nights.
Day 9 Napali Coast
Kauai’s North Shore is famous for its one of a kind scenery. A narrow winding road leads to the far end of the island where we hike the famous Kalalau Trail high above ocean cliffs. The views are superb. In the afternoon we can choose to stroll in the beautiful Limahule Botanical Gardens (small entry fee charged) and/or swim at one of the famous beautiful white sand beaches, or you may prefer to look for coastal and pelagic birds at the nearby wildlife refuge. Walking 4 miles /7 km, elevation +/- 600 ft/200m, 2-3 hours.
Day 10 Waimea Canyon
When Mark Twain visited the Islands he dubbed Waimea Canyon “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. Both the canyon’s deep red color and its size are remarkable. An early start brings us to fantastic viewpoints over the wild north shore 4,000 feet below us. Then we embark on a hike through one of earth’s wettest spots, the forbidding Alakai Swamp, on the Nualolo-Awaawapuhi Trail. This is one of the most remote places of the Islands, well-known for its extensive endemic vegetation. The elevation is between 1,000-1,200m which makes for crisp air. With a little luck we see the endangered Nene Goose, a Hawaiian native (depending on weather conditions the tour director may choose a different hike). Hiking - 9miles /15km return trip, 5 hours, +/- 1600 ft.
Day 11 Maui, Whaling Village Lahaina
Time permitting, there is a chance to fly by helicopter over the cliffs of Kauai approx. $210 for 1 hour flight, optional), by many to be considered one of the world’s best heli rides. Then we transfer to the next highlight of our tour, Maui. Maui is a large Island consisting of two massive, dormant shield volcanoes. Of the three islands visited so far, this Island is the most touristy. Not only do we find a well known national park here but also many white sand beaches. From December to April Alaskan humpback whales give birth on Maui’s West side and can be easily seen from whale watching boats. Molokini crater, a submerged cinder cone, is also a world famous snorkel and dive site. Our accommodation is condo style 1-2 bedroom with private facilities (1-4 pax, with full kitchen) or similar.
Day 12 Haleakela National Park
Today we will experience one of the magical wonders of the Islands – sunrise or sunset atop Haleakela Volcano. No wonder the name of the Volcano mean “House of the Sun”! The volcano is in stark contrast to the lush country below. Here at 3050 meters we find a dry, cold desert. We hike the Sliding Sands Trail into the heart of the dormant volcano past strange stunted plants, such as the silversword. The trailhead starts at the top of the volcano, and the air is crisp and cold up here. Come prepared with a sweater and a windbreaker. Several hiking length to choose from, hikes may be self guided 4m/7 km, +/-1000 ft/300m.
Day 13 Day at leisure/optional road to Hana
Today you have a day at leisure. You can either book an amazing day trip to Hana, (a cliff-hanging road skirts the remote east-south corner of the giant volcano), walk through the magical bamboo forest along the Seven Sacred Pools, search for humpback whales, or snorkel at Molokini Crater (all excursions optional and starting at $150).
Day 14 Trip concludes
Your trip concludes today, however there is so much more to see on Maui! We recommend you book an extension to your vacation to enjoy the spectacular beaches; for example take a whale watching tour, or snorkel tour to Molokini. If you are ready to return to your home or the next destination, today is set for individual departure. We recommend you take an airport shuttle to the airport for approx. $35 pp. on Speedishuttle.