Welcome to Natural Hawaii. This is not the Hawaii of high-rise hotels and surfers, but a vast archipelago of biological and geological wonders unparalleled anywhere in the world. On this two week trip, we will seek out the rare and endangered, the mighty and magnificent, the serene and beautiful as we tour three major islands - Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai.

An isolated gem in the heart of the Pacific, Hawaii offers some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. Imagine yourself on the rim of the vast Waimea Canyon on Kauai, looking out over 25 square miles of rugged gorges and lush rainforest, accented by distant waterfalls, white against the dark volcanic rock. In the northern highlands of the Big Island you are gazing at the two great volcanic cones of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, each rising 13,000 feet from the sea level to peak, their flanks stained by dark bands of lava. Nearby, at Volcanoes National Park, you sense the mighty forces within the earth's crust as streams of fiery lava flow into a seething ocean. And the miles of undisturbed beaches and dramatic coastlines on these islands are legendary.

Steam rising as lava flows into the sea

This customized itinerary to Natural Hawaii offers a perspective that few tourists get. Hawaii provides a fascinating window on the mysteries of creation - of land as well as of species. The islands are geologically young - we'll see recent lava flows and possibly even active ones. We'll learn how eruptions over millennia have formed some of the most massive mountains anywhere on earth, and the profound influence they have on Hawaii's weather and ecosystems. We'll investigate plant life from the pioneer species growing on barren lava to the mature and diverse rainforests that have developed over millions of years. We'll consider how species arose on these isolated islands, specks in the vast Pacific Ocean, as we observe birds like the nene (Hawaiian goose), found nowhere else on earth. We'll see strange lobelia trees, Haleakala's famous silverswords, and endangered honeycreepers, whose feathers were once prized for ceremonial clothing. We'll hear about the Polynesian-influenced history and visit archeological sites. We'll learn of the tragic extinction of certain species, through introductions and development. One cannot visit Hawaii without sensing the vast powers we humans wield, juxtaposed with the awesome powers of nature itself.

Ohia flowers - an important source of nectar
for the native honeycreepers

Whether it is tree trunks transformed to lava tombs, fern-clad rainforest waterfalls, multicolored reef worlds, spectacular vistas, or southern stars not visible from northern latitudes, you will come to appreciate our 50th state in countless ways.

We offer options to allow you to make these discoveries at your own pace. On most days you can participate with the group, or decide to take a day for yourself. This is not a bus tourÉrather a small group discovery adventure. We travel on the islands in comfortable vans, and between islands by air. The itinerary is full, but not to overflowing. We've left time for beach walks, photography, and just relaxing in the welcoming Hawaiian environment.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone

Threadfin butterflyfish - seen while snorkeling

Your tour leader is Steven Daniel, who is looking forward to helping you uncover the secrets of Hawaii's rainforests, volcanoes, coral reefs and canyons. A trained naturalist with an M.S.. from Cornell University, Steven has an abiding curiosity about the world of nature, and enjoys sharing his knowledge with our groups. Steven has a particular interest in island life and tropical plants. He has led our annual Hawaii trip since 1998, and over one hundred forty Nature Discoveries trips to outstanding natural areas around the world, including Alaska, the Galapagos, Costa Rica, and New Zealand. Steven does much of the coordination for Nature Discoveries, and is an adjunct professor at Monroe Community Colleges. We will to add a second tour leader as enrollment warrants.

Waimea Canyon on Kauai

All photos were taken by Steven Daniel on Nature Discoveries trips to Hawaii, and are the property of Nature Discoveries.

Via letters and trip evaluations, our
HAWAII Travelers Speak:

"Swimming with all the fish and green sea turtles was like being in a Disney cartoon! Dawn at the top of Haleakala was a spiritual moment!"

"Highlights...where do I start? Tidepool creatures at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau...crashing surf...apapane chorus at Thurston lava tube...glow from Pu'u O'o reflected off the clouds after dark...sunrise at Haleakala...dolphins off the boat...snorkeling...the monk seal on the beach...Kilauea Point..."

"Thanks for leading a great trip. It was our best vacation ever, and we look forward to traveling with you again soon..."

"Keep up the excellent care of your passengers, and the knowledge of all the nature."

"You are great teachers in that you guide us to discover the beauty, uniqueness, fragility and grandeur of our natural surroundings."

"We liked the balance of restaurant meals and opportunities to prepare our own."

"All logistics were seamless, a tribute to careful planning, and willingness to learn from previous trips."