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“Amazing Tour, Amazing Taj” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hawaii Forest and Trail

Hawaii Forest and Trail
74-5035B Queen Kaahumanu Hwy, Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HI 96740
800-464-1993
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Private Tour
$196*
and up
Private Tour: Big Island Organic Farms &...
Ranked #11 of 204 Activities in Kailua-Kona
Activities: Group tours/day tour
Attraction details
Victoria, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Amazing Tour, Amazing Taj”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2013

Hey Taj - Mahalo for an absolutely fabulous experience! You're wonderful and you have added SO much to our sense of the Big Island.

To readers trying to figure out if this is the right company to choose - unequivocally, YES! All is taken care of, our guide, Taj, is passionate about his island and there's little he doesn't know something about. When a personal passion is shared, it's hard to not get excited.

What'd I learn about? Plants, bugs, weather, alluvial fans, puu's, Bruddah Iz, the Hawaiian language and culture, vulcanology, astrophysics, some planetary and star features. Had dinner at an old sheep way-station at 7000', had hot chocolate and brownies at 9000' and met some remarkable travellers from as far away as Oz!

Thank you Taj for sharing your gifts with each of us. Truly remarkable!

Visited March 2013
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Seattle
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Star-Gazing Delight ... with an Asterisk”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

Hawaii Forest and Trail came well-recommended by colleagues in the tourism industry and review sites, thus I was not at all surprised to take away a magnificent experience on our Mauna Kea Stargazing Tour in early February. We were extremely fortunate to hit a night that, although winds and rain prevailed on the lower elevations, the air was calm at the top of the mountain. Talk about being on top of the world! We arrived just minutes before sunset and enjoyed a spectacular sight as sun turned to dusk and the sky lit up with fiery color.
After sunset, we bumped back down the road to the main visitor center where we joined at least a dozen other small groups huddled around Celestion telescopes in the parking lot. Our guide, John, was tremendous in his ability to integrate historical tales of stargazing with the night sky above us. Although I've been in many places with spectacular night-sky views, his narrative brought the evening to life!

A few downsides (likely guide-specific):
*We were the last 2 guests to load on the tour - picked up at a highway intersection outside of Kona. Because of this, my husband and I had the least-appealing seats (apart from one-another). Unfortunately I was placed next to an overly-wide woman who literally squished me into the aisle. Although it was awkward and uncomfortable, our guide never asked other singles on the bus to double-up to allow us to sit together. Having led tours in the past myself, I consider situations like this Tour Operator 101.
*Although the last few miles up to the observatories are a bit bumpy (apparently particularly for those in the back seat), I found no issues until the return drive down. The last 10 miles of the Saddle Road are extremely windy. Our guide drove far faster than seemed safe - cutting inside corners in the opposite lane (likely in an attempt to smooth out the windiness) - to the extent that guests were eyeing each other with a look that they were hanging on for dear life. I could only equate it to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
*We were told to drink extra water, and the basics of altitude adaptation on the way up, but there was no follow-up later in the evening. My husband developed a horrible headache on the drive down. After a little research, it was clear that elevation and lack of hydration were the culprits. It would help if the guide gave specific physical effects for us to look out for (i.e. something other than "feeling like you've had a couple of drinks" so that others could perhaps identify these signs earlier and take precautionary measures.

Visited February 2013
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New York City, New York
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Twilight Volcano Tour”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013 via mobile

Our family of four took the twilight volcano tour with Mark. We had a great time wandering through lava fields, walking through a deserted lava tube in the dark, and witnessing amazing views of the volcano at night. Throughout the day, Mark was full of information, patient in answering all kinds of questions and took us to great sites while managing to avoid the crowds. Mark's love for Hawaii came through, and he answered some potentially sensitive questions with grace. The drive across the island was long, so it was nice to have someone else drive! This tour was one of the highlights of our trip.

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Orange, California
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Mauna Kea Sunset excursion”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

What a great experience. To be on top of the world and view sunset. the small group makes it easy to ask questions and get answers. Our guide did a great job. He was informative (he said he specializes in this excursion), knew alot about the island, about the volcanoes, about astronomy. We chose the hot chicken meal and what a great location for dinner. He warned us about the bumpy road from the visitor center to the top of the mountain so we were all prepared. The views down the mountain, the views of the observatories, the view of sunset, and the snow made for a great evening. Be sure to take closed toe shoes, long sleeve shirt, and I also took a scarf and gloves. They provide parkas and mittens (a definite must)...it was in the 20s when we wre there in mid-February. It is fun to be in the sun on the Big Island but to play in snow in paradise....

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newport Beach, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Twilight Tour of Volcano Nat'l Park”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip with Hawaii Forest and Trail. Our guide, Justin, was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. The drive is long but he made it interesting talking along the way about Kiluea and the other "dormant" volcano's on the Big Island, Hawaiian lore, flora and fauna! I'm certain if we had done this trip on our own we would have missed so much! Justin did a great job determining which locations would be best, judging our group then deciding to take us a little off the beaten path. The entire adventure was beyond our expectations and we were very glad not to be driving! The caldera after sunset is amazing, don't miss it! Thanks Justin!

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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