Q & A with Jason Cohn, Director of Sales and Marketing, Hawai’i Forest & Trail, Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i USA. “Sharing the splendor of "Hawai’i Nei" with visitors since 1994.”
WHY IS THE BIG ISLAND A GOOD PLACE FOR STAR GAZING?
The answer is the Mauna Kea volcano. It is famous among astronomers for its altitude, good weather, and lack of light pollution. So at the summit or near the summit you will find many observatory buildings housing high-powered telescopes that look deep into space. But even with just your eyes you can see an amazing display of stars across the night sky.
IS IT TRUE THAT THE KILAUEA VOLCANO HAS BEEN ERUPTING SINCE THE MID 1980’s?
Yes! It is one of the most active volcanoes on earth! This year we have had great viewing opportunities with two different eruptions happening simultaneously on the mountain. One eruption is sending lava down into the ocean. The other one is confined to a spitting, bubbling lava lake at the summit of Kilauea.
SHOULD TRAVELERS PACK HIKING BOOTS FOR VOLCANO TREKS?
Mainly you should bring shoes that fit well and are comfortable to wear for the entire day. That is the most important factor. In addition, the shoes should have a decent grip. You might have a look at at our retail store in our Kona location. We do carry a great selection of shoes plus many other products that are perfect for outdoor adventures.
Indeed, and you can visit the coffee farms around Kona in the same way that you can visit the wineries of Napa Valley in northern California. During these farm tours guests learn how coffee is grown. They are introduced to the processing facilities and offered cups of brewed coffee to taste. Hawaii has all the right elements for growing coffee plants - tropical weather, elevation, and the fertile soil as you mentioned. Each plantation takes these basics and then adds its own way of cultivating the coffee beans.
DO ALL YOUR TOURS INCLUDE BEVERAGES OR SNACKS?
Our tours are all-inclusive. That means we give extras - beverages, snacks, access fees, rain jackets, walking sticks, bug spray – items like that - at no extra charge!
Yes and actually we work with many birding organizations. We are especially proud of our role in the recent launch of the Hawaii Island Coast-to-Coast Birding Trail which runs between the cities of Hilo and Kona. It was the highlight of the Hawaii Island Birding Festival which was held last month [September 2016]. We get a number of migratory bird species but visitors are especially interested to see our endemic species like the nēnē [Hawaiian goose] and the i'iwi [scarlet honeycreeper].
We have rain and dry forests. Unfortunately our dry forests have almost completely disappeared due to human activity and introduction of grazing farm animals like cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. Our rain forests have been reduced to merely 10% of their original size. Both habitats still support a great variety of birds and insects, but now many species are critically endangered.
I UNDERSTAND THAT INVASIVE SPECIES ARE ANOTHER PROBLEM.
That is unfortunately true. There are a lot of invasive species that threaten our native plants and animals. Invasive plants are like guava, ginger, albesia, and gorse. Rats and feral pigs do a lot of damage. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, so everyone must work together to remove these pests and prevent their spread.
There are many local groups focused on reforestation. We work with several: The Mauna Kea Dryforest Initiative, The Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, and Friends of Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, and Pu'u Wa'a Wa'a.
CAN TRAVELERS VOLUNTEER FOR A DAY?
Yes! There are many such opportunities, and we post frequently about them on our social media channels. The best way to learn more is to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
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