Question: What should we bring on our eco-excursion? What should we wear?
Answer: Good question, but surprisingly, not much. We do visit thick tropical rainforests that do occasionally have a little bug problem (i.e. mosquito's). We provide mosquito repellent. Insects are generally not a major problem except after heavy rains or in certain areas. You may bring a sport drink with you if you'd like. Also, it would be wise to bring sunscreen as there are many areas where bright sunlight will be beating down on you from time to time. Some people like to bring a small folding umbrella. Camera's are fine, just remember to hold onto them tight. Bring a "one time use" 35mm camera that you can buy anywhere if you're not a serious camera buff, and play it safe. If you're wanting breathtaking memories of your journey while here in Hawai'i, you're going to get them on our tours.
As far as clothing goes, we suggest shorts or twill pants. Jeans are okay but not recommended. Hiking shoes are great if you have them, but wear at least a pair of tennis shoes. Plan on getting them wet and dirty. For a shirt we suggest an all cotton t-shirt that dries fast. Bring sunglasses, and if you like, a cap or visor. We do not recommend or support swimming at any location where water is present. First, in many areas this is against the law and violates trail rules, and second, many areas contain bacteria that is harmful to humans.
Question: Does The Real Hawaii provide anything to hikers on your tour?
Answer: Yes. We provide complimentary Hawaiian spring bottled water, a light lunch ("Real Tropical" excursion only), daypack, binoculars, rain ponchos if needed, and a walking stick.
Question: What if someone gets hurt on the trail?
Answer: If everyone follows the rules of the trail and stays within their group, chances of getting injured are minimal. However, our guides carry a first aid kit with them at all times. We also require that all of our guides be either Red Cross CPR or First Aid certified, or both. Re-certification is done yearly. We also carry commercial two-way radio on all excursions.
Question: When on you excursions, is there anyway to identify the plant life on the trail?
Answer: Yes. Our guides, living most all of their lives in Hawai'i, are very familiar with the plant life present on the trails we hike. In fact, several of our guides have researched the medicinal uses of many of Hawaii's plants and trees in treating illness. There are also many books in Hawai'i that are very good for identifying native and non-native plant life on the islands. We highly recommend the expertise of our friends at the University of Hawaii Manoa in the Botany Department who make a living at studying Hawaii's unique plant life. Check out the excellent website of Dr. Gerry Carr, Professor of Botany at UH by clicking on this link http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/default.htm . If you have time to study it before you take our excursions, you'll be able to see and identify many of the native and non-native plants on most all of the trails we hike. It's a great site!
Question: What if we need to use the restroom during our excursion?
Answer: Restrooms are not generally available at most of the trails we visit due to the fact that many are very secluded, and 'off the beaten path'. It is highly recommended that right before you enter our van in the morning that you make a restroom stop if needed. Remember, it's nature and you on our excursions. If you must make an emergency stop before we reach a trail, please let our driver know before leaving town.
Question: What islands do you provide your excursions on?
Answer: At present, we are only providing our excursions on the island of O'ahu. We are currently working on future excursions for our guests on The Big Island (Hawai'i), Maui, and Kauai. Keep checking our website from time to time to see when these will be available.
Question: Do you provide free transportation on your excursions?
Answer: Yes. We provide free transportation with pickup and return from any hotel in Waikiki on our O'ahu excursions. There is an additional charge for pickup outside Waikiki based on your location on the island. When selecting the name of your Hotel or Lodging from our secure reservations page, select 'other' if you're not staying in Waikiki, or don't see your hotel or place of your stay listed, and then complete the line right below the Hotel and Lodging field by telling us where you are staying. If you're still in Waikiki or slightly on the outskirts, there will be no additional charge. If you are staying at another location on the island, we'll email you back the additional fee for pickup at your location.
Additionally, uses exclusively private transportation for all our excursions, as your safety is of utmost importance to us both on the trail and in route to it. The companies we use are in the transportation business, and this is all they do. Experience on the road with the best private companies on the island are your assurance of the best and most experienced drivers to and from our hiking areas.
Question: Are children allowed on your tours?
Answer: Yes, however we do not recommend our eco-excursions to those under 7. We do require that children not wander from their parents sight at any time during our tour. We are working on a keiki adventure for our younger children to be incorporated at a later date.
Question: Do you conduct eco-excursions seven days a week?
Answer: Yes. We conduct tours Monday through Sunday, however weekend and holiday excursions are conducted on private land. Our 'Real Sacred' excursion does not access state trails and therefore operates on weekends, even on holiday's. There are stringent limitations in place by the Department of Land and Natural Resources that limit us to weekday excursions only that overlap state lands. There are many reasons for this, including one just to let the trails rest and recover over the weekend. We as ecologists support this policy and know you will too. One other thing that you should know. We have a limitation of the number of persons that we take on each excursion, and also there's a total per day limitation placed on trail use by DLNR. This is why we ask for first and second choices on our reservation form. We will try to confirm your day and date requested within 24 hours of your request. If neither day is available for one of the listed reasons, you will not be charged and we will call and let you know of this. This instance is rare though. We make every effort to reserve space for you on our excursions on the day you request.
Question: What credentials does your company have for conducting tours?
Answer: has gone through the stringent process of obtaining the proper licensing and permits to enable us to conduct our tours and to assure that we are a company that not only shares concern for the delicate ecology of Hawai'i as you do, but one that maintains good standing with the state and other agencies for conducting eco-tours, and business in general. All guides a Polynesian and have spent all their lives on this land. They know it like the back of their hands.
The Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resource's Division of Forestry and Wildlife has recently ( September 1999) made it illegal to conduct hiking tours in Hawai'i without a special commercial trails permit. has passed all stringent criteria required by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct our specialized excursions in Hawaii. Copies of this permit are available for viewing upon request. For your safety it is always advisable to hike only with certified guides or companies as not doing so could lead to serious problems for you and your guests on the trail.
has proper commercial liability insurance and additional company permits needed to conduct our tours.
A portion of your fee goes directly towards trail upkeep and maintenance. This fee is a required fee mandated by the Department of Land and Natural Resource's Division of Forestry and Wildlife. ALL licensed eco-tour operators are required to pay into this fund. Records of our donations may be verified and obtained at the Department of Land and Natural Resource's Division of Forestry and Wildlife office's Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program on O'ahu. We support this fee 100% and feel that it is good for the environment and also maintains a steady source of revenue for trail upkeep.
Additionally, is an active member of the National Audubon Society which supports many of Hawaii's endangered birds, The Hawai'i Ecotourism Association, and Hawai'i Ho'olau Hou, an organization dedicated to restoring and redeveloping underused areas with indigenous species of native plants in Hawai'i, and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. We also have a working relationship with Alu Like, Inc., a private Hawai'i based non-profit service organization that assists Native Hawaiians in their efforts to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency.
Question: How large are your excursions? How many people are usually on them?
Answer: sets a 12 person or less limit on our tours. We will be more than happy to schedule your group as two separate parties in order to achieve these limits. By the same token, we have a minimum of 4 persons per tour. There are several reasons why we limit size. First of all we are visiting areas of extreme sensitivity that we feel should only be visited in small numbers due to the fact that we are sharing the trails with other groups who also use them. We feel that by limiting our size we enable our fellow hikers to bring their groups up but at the same time we can all keep foot traffic on a particular trail to a minimum for a days quota. Another reason we limit our group size is to enable more personal and interactive dialogue between you, our guests, and your guide. Remember we are not only here to take you to some of the most beautiful places on earth, but also to educate you at the same time. We feel smaller groups allow this process to work successfully.
NOTE: Due to the State of Hawai'i removing themselves in many cases from all liability encountered for mishaps that have occurred on state trails and other properties, we are forced to provide insurance to maintain this liability. This insurance is very expensive and accounts for one of the most expensive costs we incur to do business in Hawai'i. The Real Hawaii goes out of our way to provide you with one of the most exciting and eco-cultural excursions there is, however there are a few very important rules that we must require our guests to follow to insure your complete safety and to adhere to insurance regulations forced upon us. It is very important to follow these rules before and during our tours so that your memories will be happy ones.
takes you to some of the most remote spots that Hawai'i has to offer. Many of these spots are very remote and somewhat difficult to get to. Many areas have extremely steep canyons or gorges, and some drop for almost half a mile. It is imperative that you remain on the trail at all times. You should remain in sight of your tour guide during the entire excursion. Your guide knows the areas well, and is aware of areas of extreme beauty, but also of great danger. The hard facts are that over the past several years, many hikers (even experienced) have fallen victim to accidents and in many cases even death because of taking unnecessary chances by getting off the trail. Many have become stranded, or completely lost on hikes. The state of Hawai'i has taken notice of this and is now requiring tour companies to obtain liability insurance to lessen their burden in case of accident. We have no choice as the cost of this insurance is enormous, and because of insurance regulations, other than highly recommend that while on our tour, you stay with your guide at all times.
We can't stress this enough. ALWAYS STAY ON THE TRAIL! Mälama pono! Be Careful!
Keep an eye on weather conditions. Flash floods are always possible with rain. Do not cross any stream that appears to be overflowing or flooding.
Stay with your group or hike with a partner. Never hike alone! Believe us folks, it is very easy to become disoriented on many Hawai'i trails. Hiking alone is hiking at your own risk.
Do not take unnecessary risks. Don't climb or jump from waterfalls. Don't venture off defined trails to areas that are not marked or are poorly marked especially if you're not a seasoned outdoors person. Even then you are putting yourself at great risk. If you must leave any trail without a partner, it would be wise that you have a walkie-talkie, cell phone, or at the very least a whistle. Flashlights would come in handy also.
In Hawai'i many trail areas are overrun with introduced plants (non-native). We strongly recommend that you wash the dirt and soil off the bottom of your shoes before leaving the hiking area. Our guides carry a sprayer with water in it for just such a function on every tour. This prevents introduction of the hitch hiking seeds to other parts of the island. Also please never pick vegetation from its native location. Doing so can do one of three things. First you may spread the seeds of the plant (if non-native) to other parts of the island, you may actually be removing a native species from a spot where rehabilitation is taking place, and finally many plants are considered sacred to the Hawaiians. Please respect all.
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NOTICE: The Real Hawaii Eco-Cultural Excursions® shall not be held responsible for any damage, accident, loss, injury, or loss of property while on our tour from any cause. Eco-excursion rates and trails visited are subject to change without notice due to weather, natural or other conditions.