Flight information

In Hawai’i we will spend sixteen days traveling to four of the islands and observing some of the finest examples of Hawaii's unique and interesting geology,ecology,marine life, culture,and history.  In that time you will experience volcanoes, rain forests, coral reefs, beaches, mountains, and so much more. This will undoubtedly be an amazing climax to our study of the Hawai’ian Islands!

Jan 2: We will depart from Cleveland and fly from the mainland across the Pacific Ocean to the Lihue airport on the island of Kauai, the oldest of the islands that we will visit.  There, we will be met by the staff of Hawaiian Adventure Tours.  After collecting our bags we will drive to Kahili Mountain Park and settle into our mountain cabins. Later, we will gather for dinner and a trip orientation.

Jan 3: After breakfast, we will drive along the windward coast to the north shore towns of Hanalei and Haena.  There, we will visit the Limahuli Garden and Preserve, set at the base of the Na Pali coast at Limahuli.  This garden is part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, a privately supported research facility,dedicated to conserving endangered plants. Its mission is to be an internationally recognized leader and resource for the propagation, study and conservation of tropical plants.  In 1997, Laminhuli Gardens were selected by the American Horticultural Society as the best natural botanical garden in the U.S.  We will have a behind-the-scenes tour with staff members. 

After lunch at Ke'e beach, we will hike along the breathtaking Na Pali Coast Trail to Hanakapiai Beach (four miles round trip), enjoying awesome views of 2,500 ft cliffs plunging into the ocean below. The Na Pali Coast is a very special place. The pali, or cliffs, provide a rugged grandeur of deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. Waterfalls and swift flowing streams continue to cut these narrow valleys while the sea carves cliffs at their mouths. Extensive stone walled terraces can still be found on the valley bottoms where Hawaiians once lived and cultivated taro. The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged coast. 

We will return to Kahili Mountain park for overnight.

Take a virtual tour of a palm garden
See a picture of Ke'e Beach
Learn about the Na Pali State Park

Jan 4:  First, we will drive to Waimea Canyon, "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific."  Then its a full day of hiking along the Awaawapuhi Ridge Trail (six miles round trip) which transects a prime example of an ohia cloud forest and a dry-land koa climax forest complete with a vast assortment of endemic understory plants. Associated with these endemic species of plants is an exciting population of Hawaii's unique nectar-feeding birds called honeycreepers.  We will have lunch on a cliff-top meadow overlooking the uninhabited Nualolo and Honopu Valleys, uninhabited north shore valley with lush sea cliffs and mossy waterfalls.  2,500 ft below. Views from this perch are the most spectacular in all Hawaii Nei.

Jan 5: We will drive to Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge and join a refuge staff member for a behind-the-scenes tour of the excellent habitat restoration work being performed here to promote the breeding reintroduction of many of Hawaii's sea birds. We will have lunch, then travel to the Maha'ulepu coastline for an afternoon of swimming and snorkeling.

Learn lots more facts about Kauai


Jan 6: We will take a mid-morning flight to Kahului, Maui, then drive to the north side of the island and bump along the curvaceous Hana Highway. We will stop at the Keanae Arboretum to view the extensive collection of tropical plants and taro found here. We will continue on to Hana and check into "Joe's Place," our local guest house. Before dinner, we will have time to stroll around this historic town.

Jan 7: This morning, we will trek through towering bamboo stands and a lush tropical rain forest to the 420 ft. cascade of Waimoku Falls. A profusion of ginger, guava, mountain apple, mango ferns, and berries makes this hike a feast for the senses. After lunch, we will hike back with stopping to swim in cool freshwater pools. On the way back to Hana, we will visit Hamoa beach for a swim and body surf.

Jan 8:  We will follow old Hawaiian footsteps, trekking into the wet native forest of the West Maui Mountains via the Waihee Ridge Trail.  Panoramic views from the high ridges will provide us with incredible opportunities to photograph the canyons, waterfalls, and the coastal areas. Later, we will drive to the old whaling port of Lahaina and check into our lodging.  Once Hawaii's capitol, Lahaina is now a favorite visitor destination.  In the evening, we will gather for a slide presentation about current Humpback Whale research, delivered by a researcher from the Pacific Whale Foundation.

Jan 9:  This morning, we will board a Pacific Whale Foundation boat for a morning of whale watching.  Each winter, the Humpback whales migrate to Hawaii to calve and breed.  Maui is known to be the area with the most whale sightings;  each winter, more than 2,000 humpback whales gather in the  waters off of Lahaina.  Aggressive behavior such as fin slaps, head lunges, and breaching are often observed.  In the afternoon, we will have some free time to explore Lahaina.

Jan 10:  We will rise before dawn to watch the sunrise on the 10,000 ft. summit of Haleakala crater.  The tropical sun firing the ocean rim is a sight to last a lifetime!  Then we will hike eight miles along a cinder strewn path into the jaws of the world's largest "crater."  Once on the crater floor, we will explore a subterranean lava tube. After lunch, we will hike four miles up serpentine switchbacks to the crater's rim


Jan 11:  After a leisurely morning on Maui we will fly to Hilo, on the Big Island.   After a short supply stop, we will tour the Tropical Botanical Gardens, then drive to Volcano Village to check out our bed and breakfast.  That afternoon, we will drive through a series of massive lava flows, descending to the coast. Together, we will view steam vents, sulfur banks, ancient petroglyphs, pahoehoe lava and a'a lava, We may have time for people to take a helicopter ride over the volcano.  In the evening, we'll take a trip to the ocean to view molten lava as it seeps into the sea.

Jan 12:  We will get up early for an all day exploration of the botanical and geological wonders of Volcanoes National Park, the home of Pele, Hawaii's legendary Goddess of Fire.  .  We will hike into the steaming crater of Kilauea Iki, a dormant volcano.  Traveling down the crater's rim, lush foliage soon yields to blasted trees and frozen forms of lava.  Frequent earth tremors and acrid fumes attest to the ceaseless surges of barely-contained magma just below the crusted crater floor.  This first-hand experience brings  alive the excitement of Hawaii's volcanoes more than a textbook ever could.

Jan 13: We will leave Madame Pele's realm and travel around the southernmost tip of the United States. Here we take to the sea with an easy kayak paddle to sea caves near Pu'uhonua Ohonaunau National Park.  This temple site was a "place of refuge."  It includes the alii's palace grounds and a place where commoners could seek refuge to avoid the harsh penalties of breaking the strict laws of the ancient kapu system.  Nearby are some excellent tidepools for viewing many if Hawai’is unique marine organisms.  In our kayaks, we will paddle past Hale 0 Keawe (the priest's heiau) and The Great Wall of Honaunau, learning historical features of the park form the water.  When we return, we will swim and snorkel in Honaunau Bay coral gardens where green sea turtles feed alongside multicolored tropical fish.

Jan 14: Today on the Big Island is a special treat.  First, it's off to wind, waves, and sunshine on the powdery white sands of Hapuna Beach.  SCUBA divers will be able to do a one-tank shore dive.  After lunch, we will travel up the Kohala Coast to Hawi, where we will join a local family for a Hawai’ian luau.  Together, we will prepare the imu, or earthen oven, and cover hot lava rocks with fresh greens and island delicacies. As the food steams underground, we will make haku leis, hula, and relax in the old Hawiiian way. When the food is ready, we will take the popular Hawaiian advice and 'eat until we're tired'. This will a great experience for the group as we experience the warmth of the Aloha spirit first?hand.  Afterwards, we will check into the Manago Hotel.


Jan 15:  After breakfast and perhaps a swim and snorkel in Kona, we will fly to Honolulu. After collecting our bags, we will travel to our Waikiki hotel.  Then we will travel along the south shore for a tour of the Pearl Harbor/Arizona Memorial to learn about America's entry into WWII.  The rest of the afternoon and the evening will be free for you to explore Waikiki.

JAN 16: After breakfast, we will hike to the top of Mount Leahi (Diamond Head) for spectacular views of of Waikiki on Oahu's leeward coast and a detailed examination of Oahu's most recent post-erosional eruptions.  The we will visit the Waikiki Aquarium to view excellent displays of Hawaii's marine environments.  In the mid-afternoon we will drive through Oahu's Pineapple and sugar plantations to Oahu's famed North Shore.  Surfers from around the world come to Hawaii every winter to challenge themselves in the huge winter surf.  Afternoon options include swimming, bodyboarding, playing on the beach, or hiking.  In the afternoon we will return to our hotel for our last night in Hawaii.

Jan 17:  In the morning, we will visit the Bishop Museum to tour the exceptional exhibits on Hawaii's cultural and natural history.  We will gather again in the afternoon for our flight home to the mainland.  The days go fast but memories, friendships and new experiences live long after you depart Hawaiian shores!


Dr. Ann E. Throckmorton
Chair, Department of Biology
Westminster College
New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, 16172

telephone: (724) 946-7209
fax: (724) 946-7791
e-mail:  athrock@westminster.edu

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