Hawaii Forest and Trail is bringing its award-winning reputation to Oahu with three new tours that aim to provide a different perspective on the state’s most-populated island.
With a focus on natural history, adventure and the environment, the tours dive into Oahu’s volcanic history, its natural forests and its under-visited areas. By teaming up with local companies and residents, Hawaii Forest and Trail’s tours take place, in part, on private land not normally accessible to the public. This has always been a competitive advantage and calling card for them on the Big Island, so it’s no surprise to see the strategy continue on Oahu.
Here is what you need to know about the new tours:
Farm to Forest
The shining star of the Oahu launch is the Farm to Forest tour that peels back the curtain on the lesser-visited west coast. Outside of Koolina, a small resort area, the majority of the west coast remains undeveloped and local. The point of Farm to Forest, as described in the name, is to showcase the area’s small farms and upcountry, mountaintop forests.
The first stop is Mao Farms, a community-based, organic operation that provides internships and scholarship programs to local students. After a locally-sourced lunch, you’ll head up into the highlands for a walk in a private forest, ending with a side view of the Waianae Mountains not normally accessible to the public. But the in-betweens of the tour are just as important as your guide introduces you to life on the west side, a stark contrast to what you find in Honolulu.
The city of Honolulu may dominate the landscape on the south shore of Oahu, but those with a keen eye can still spot its volcanic past. Guests will summit the most iconic example, Diamond Head, on an interpretive hike before heading east and exploring the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, the site of a historic battle that proved pivotal in Kamehameha’s conquest of Oahu.
The day ends a world away from the bustling city streets at the Lyon Arboretum, where you’ll get explanations of Oahu’s native plants.
Birds and Wildlife of Oahu
Made for birders, this tour takes you on private land to access one of the last remaining habitats for the Oahu Elepaio, an endangered monarch flycatcher. You’ll go through several different elevations and ecosystems, from the mountains to the beach, with chances to see other local birds like the Laysan Albatross, Pacific Golden Plover, and Bristle-Thighed Curlew. It’s a must-do for birders and a great introduction to Oahu’s natural side for others.
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