Great Hikes on Three Islands

The allure of Hawaii's natural beauty is one of the strongest pulls on potential travelers' minds. Make the most of it when working with clients who are considering a Hawaii getaway by pointing out the abundance of trails statewide and the availability of customer-focused outfitters who are skilled in providing scheduled and custom outings.  Hikers on Maui EcoAdventures' Rainforest/Waterfall Hike (right) can glimpse stunning views of the island's waterfalls (above)

There's the obvious benefit of hitting the trails with a guide, who can share history and specialized information about the surroundings, who knows where to stop for stunning photos and who handles food and other details. Beyond this, there's the fact that while a number of trails are on public land, some aren't; heading out with a reputable outfitter can mean your clients have special access to areas not available to the casual daytripper.

Clients heading to Maui, for example, can venture into the WestMauiMountains on a hike that traverses private land with Maui Eco-Adventures' "Rainforest/Waterfall Hike." This upscale firm is the only commercial hiking company with access to the area hikers will explore, says John White, general manager.

Hikers head into rainforest acreage, pass by terraces where ancient Hawaiians nurtured taro, cross suspension bridges and take a freshwater swim at the turnaround point while the guide is preparing a deli lunch. At under five miles, the hike is manageable for the less athletic, but appealing to the more fit traveler, as well.

"Walking on the suspension bridges takes people to a different place," White says. "It's 'Indiana Jones meets the rainforest.'" He says that during parts of the hike, trekkers won't hear anything but themselves, and during wetter times of year, they're able to see massive waterfalls in the distance. What's especially striking to visitors, he says, is the size of the waterfalls' drop, as well as the experience of what it feels like to be in a large rainforest.

The gorgeous Na Pali coast of Kauai, shown with kayakers paddling by, is a popular hiking destination

The five-mile hike is suited to families, says Kealy Pierce, office manager. Maui Eco-Adventures suggests that children be 6 or older to take part.

The hike departs daily, and starts at $120 per person. The price includes pickups in South and West Maui, continental breakfast, deli-style lunch, beverages and use of towels.

For more information, call 877-661-7720 or visit www.ecomaui.com. Agents making special arrangements for their clients can e-mail Pierce at kealy@ecomaui.com.

Hiking the Na Pali Coast

On Kauai, the scenic trail hugging the Na Pali coastline is justly popular both for its views and the challenges it presents. Micco Godinez, head guide and co-owner of Kayak Kauai, recommends the Nualolo/Awaawapuhi trail, the more famous Kalalau Trail's lesser-known cousin, which Godinez says rivals the Kalalu in terms of visual impact.

The 11-mile loop trail, rated moderate to strenuous, is suited for active couples and families. It descends gradually through a dryland forest populated by native and exotic plants and trees, and hikers may see such native birds as the elepaio. After passing through the forest, hikers catch the first of many views of the remote Na Pali coastline below. One of the highlights of the Nualolo/Awaawapuhi loop is the knife-edged ridge of Awaawapuhi itself.

Godinez says another especially memorable part of the hike is reaching the end of the Nualolo portion and seeing the reef of Kee in the far distance.

Also exciting, he says, is "leading folks the last portion of the Awaawapuhi trail, with their eyes closed, and having them open their eyes when I have placed their hands on the guardrail at the end of the trail—[they get] some incredible views of the very classic fluted ridges that dominate the small valley of Awaawapuhi below."

This full-day guided hike starts at $231 per person, with a two-person minimum. Transportation; use of day packs and rain gear; and lunch, fruit juice and bottled water is included.

Call 800-437-3507 or visit www.kayakkauai.com. Contact Godinez at kayakkauai@earthlink.net for custom arrangements.

In the meantime, active clients planning a Molokai getaway may want to book a package at the Lodge & BeachVillage at Molokai Ranch, which includes a daily credit that can be applied toward the cost of guided hikes and other activities.

Guests can choose the culturally focused Halawa Falls Hike, which is a guided exploration of this lush valley. Along the way, the guide shares history and talks about what the hikers are seeing. There's a chance to swim in the natural pool at HalawaFalls, and time at a taro loi to learn about this ancient and important part of the traditional Hawaiian diet. Cost of the hike is $75 per person.

The "Beach Village Adventure Package" bundles lodging with daily breakfast and dinner served at the beachside Kaupoa Dining Pavilion, along with an activity credit of $30 per person per day. Through December 20, this package starts at $179 per person per night; there's a third- and fourth-person charge of $116 per person per night.

Call 888-627-8082 or visit www.molokairanch.com. To make special arrangements, contact Marlo Nishimoto, director of sales, at 808-534-9561 or sales@molokairanch.com.