Wai‘Aha Springs Forest Reserve in Hawaii

Wai‘aha Springs Forest Reserve is located off the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, near the village of Honomu. It is part of the state’s larger Waikoloa State Recreational Area, which encompasses a total of 1,619 acres (6.54 km²) of land. The Forest Reserve was established by the state of Hawaii in 1927 to preserve and protect the unique Hawaiian flora and fauna of the area. The reserve is maintained by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and contains multiple water sources, including Wai‘aha Springs, Little Wai‘aha Springs, ʻĀkuli Stream, and Kūpuna Stream. Kailua-Kona, HI can be seen here. 

Wai’aha Springs Forest Reserve is situated in a lowland-high elevation area with elevations ranging from several hundred feet to 2,000 feet above sea level. The region features two different kinds of forests: mountain and wet. The mountain areas consist of mixed native and exotic trees and shrubs, including Hawaiian ohia and koa trees. The wet forest includes streams, a waterfall, and multiple natural springs. The area is also home to multiple rare species like the ōhia lehua tree, ʻalalā (Hawaiian crow), and various rare plants and animals. Click here to read about Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Hawaii.

Wai‘aha Springs Forest Reserve is home to an expansive variety of both native and exotic flora and fauna. The native plant species consist of endemic ohia and koa trees, as well as ferns, varieties of vines, and epiphytes. The rare species of ʻĀkuli Stream are endemic and can only be found in the region. The area is also home to multiple endangered plants, such as the Shi'i and Kanawa. Fauna in the region consists of both endemic and exotic species. Endemic species include the ʻalalā (Hawaiian crow), lama (Hawaiian monk seal), nēnē (Hawaiian goose), pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl), Palila (Hawaiian honeycreeper), and hoa’ā‘ā (Hawaiian sharp-tailed sandpiper). Exotic species such as boars, mongooses, and cats are also present, although the majority of these exotic species are controlled by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Wai‘aha Springs Forest Reserve provides a large variety of recreational activities for visitors. Hiking trails can be found in mountain and wet areas, as well as multiple streams, springs, and a waterfall. Swimming and snorkeling are also permitted, with numerous underground pools and the occasional waterfall providing excitement for those daring enough to explore them.

Picnicking and camping are also allowed in certain areas with no reservation or permit required. Hunting is permitted in some areas and must be regulated by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Bird watching is also popular in the area as the reserve is home to numerous endemic species, as well as some rare ones. Hunting is strictly prohibited in the area, however, and visitors should take caution when engaging in any recreational activities.

Wai‘aha Springs Forest Reserve is a diverse and thriving area of Hawaiian flora and fauna located off the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. The reserve offers a wide variety of recreational activities for visitors to explore, including hiking, swimming, snorkeling, picnicking, and bird-watching. Home to numerous native and rare species, the reserve is well worth a visit for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Hawaii’s untouched landscapes. In order to protect the reserve’s pristine environment, however, hunting and other disturbance-causing activities are strictly prohibited.

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