Koai'a Tree Sanctuary

Big Island, Hawai'i

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Koai'a Tree Sanctuary


  • The trailhead.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Mauna Kea is visible along the trail.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • The three newer volcanic mountains are visible from the trail: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hulalai.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Kids can enjoy the trails that offer diverse terrain in a small area.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Interpretative signs are posted along the trail, offering more information about area's natural history.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Exploring opportunities are plenty at the Koai'a Tree Sanctuary.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Koai'a have spreading branches low to the ground, making for cool spaces to explore.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • The gulch has some very old and massive ʻōhiʻa trees that eluded the destructive goats and cattle of the area.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Volunteers with the Kohala Watershed Partnership planting native plants along the Koai'a Corridor.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • On both sides of the sanctuary the landscape has been decimated by cattle.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • A'ali'i is just one of the many native plants you'll find within the sanctuary.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Koai'a in bloom.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Park along the road in a large pullout.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
  • Koia'a Tree Sanctuary is a great place to catch the sunset.- Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
Overview + Weather
Fantastic views. Native trees. Family and pet friendly. Interpretative signage.
Short trail system.
Big Island, HI
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,200.00 ft (975.36 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


The Koai’a Tree Sanctuary is a 13-acre preserve along Kohala Mountain Road that is a smaller part of a larger 2-mile riparian corridor managed by the non-profit Kohala Watershed Partnership. The sanctuary has a network of short trails, and the outer interpretive loop is only three-quarters of a mile long.

The short distances and the exciting koai’a trees, which are low to the ground with twisting and gnarly branches, make this an ideal place to hike with small children. Other beautiful native trees you can expect to see are hala pepe, ala'a, māmane, and some of the largest ʻōhiʻa trees in the area. Birds are abundant in the sanctuary, and it is not uncommon to see pueo (Hawaiian owl) soaring overhead. On clear days, the Koai’a Tree Sanctuary offers rewarding views of the Kohala coastline and the three southern volcanoes: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai. This is also an excellent spot to catch the sunset.

In the 1960s a fence was put up by foresters to protect the area, and the sanctuary reflects the forest that has rejuvenated since then. Before the fence was put up, many of the older trees within the gulch managed to escape being ravaged by destructive cattle hooves because of the steep gulch and numerous rocks. Now the Kohala Watershed Partnership has volunteer days in the sanctuary and along the 220-acre 2-mile corridor all the way up to Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve. Volunteers help remove invasive fire grass, construct retaining walls, plant saplings, and construct sediment dams to protect the coral reefs along the Kohala coast.

The Koai’a Tree Sanctuary is a great place to visit if you are looking for a short hike and are interested in the plant life within Hawaiian dry forests. However, it is also the starting spot for legal access up to Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve, so you can continue on up the corridor for a longer hike. You also access the summit trail for Kohala from this location.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(22 within a 30 mile radius)

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