A Journey Into The Endemic Hawaiian Rainforest of Koolau Range
Set on the eastern shores of the island of Oahu, the endemic Hawaiian Rainforest of Koolau Range offers a truly unique experience. Located on the slopes of the majestic Koolau Mountains, it is the only rainforest in America that is entirely free of introduced plants and animals. Home to a plethora of native species, this lush and diverse ecosystem is a must-see natural wonder. From endemic birds to endangered native plants and a variety of stunning views, there is something to fascinate both natural and human history buffs.
History Of The Area
The Koolau Range spans an area of nearly 6,000 acres, covering the entire eastern coast of Oahu. Historically, the area has been home to the various indigenous groups of Hawaiians as far back as 5,000 years ago. Koolau Range was once part of the Kingdom of Oahu, which was established in the late 18th century. The area around the rainforest was important to the Kingdom for its agricultural, economic and strategic importance.
Today, the area is recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior, the highest possible designation for a culturally and historically significant area. In addition, the rainforest encompasses the Ahupua’a and I V districts, which are both home to an impressive collection of endemic species.
The Scenery and Climate
Once visitors enter the lush rainforest, they will be treated to a stunning display of cobalt skies, lush green foliage and vibrant mountain vistas. As they make their way through the rainforest, they will be able to cross several rivers and streams, which often lead to waterfalls. The climate here is typically quite humid, with average temperatures ranging between 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The monthly rainfall between December and March averages at around 10 inches.
The Unique Wildlife
One of the most notable aspects of the Koolau Range is its unique assortment of wildlife. With over 500 unique bird species, the endemic Hawaiian Rainforest of Koolau Range is a bird watcher’s paradise. From honeycreepers, to lithornithids, and black francolins, it’s an ornithologist’s dream. In addition, there are over 100 species of plants, reptiles, amphibians and insects native to the area. Of particular note are the endangered ōhulāpapa tree, the endemic aa tree, and the rare olive tree.
The Hawaiian Culture
The Koolau Range is also home to plenty of Hawaiian culture. The two ahupua’a (traditional Hawaiian land divisions) are particularly important to Hawaiian culture. Here, visitors can explore Hawaiian temples, petroglyphs, and even WWII planes that fell in the area. In addition, there are various cultural hikes in the area, which allow visitors to learn about the Hawaiian folklore, beliefs and customs, as well as the history of the area.
Getting There: Make It A Day Trip!
The best way to access the Koolau Range is to take the Hawai’i Belt Road #83, which will take you directly to the forest entrance. Once there, you will be provided with a map that will guide you through the forest. The area is divided into several distinct areas, each with its own unique features.
The entire experience can be done as a day trip, with plenty of opportunities to explore the area and its many points of interest. With so much to see and so many activities, it’s no wonder that the Koolau Range is one of the most exciting and unique rainforests in America. So if you’re looking for an amazing day in nature, this is the perfect spot for you!
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