The longest drivable rainforest in the USA is the Hana Highway. With itʻs historic bridges, incredible variety of weather, beautiful waterfalls, coastal scenes, and wonderful fresh fruit and local food options along the way, itʻs one of the most popular day trips in all of Hawaii.
Traveling through this forest, a visitor encounters a constant spattering of light rain which keeps everything a beautiful misty green. You might see 100 different shades looking across some of the valleys. Even the water has a tinge of green.
Throughout the rainforest, the various plants flower at different times of the year which helps the residents mark the seasons. There still are 4 seasons in the tropics. Guides will stop at various locations to allow guests to sample local berries and fruit. You might be able to try some tasty guava, lilikoi, bananas, and other native and non-native locally-grown fruit.
During a journey on the road to Hana, we will come across local wildlife. Birds were the largest animals in this land for a long time, adapting to the plant life and living conditions they found at various mountain elevations. As humans developed more areas around the coastlines, birds were forced higher and higher up into the mountains. Most native birds live higher up on the mountain, in the 4000 feet and up range now. Mosquitoes arrived on a ship from Central America almost 200 years ago which impacted the native bird population, making them even more susceptible to a deadly, highly transmissible disease that have reduced their numbers down to critically endangered levels. You may catch some glimpses of them in the more remote gulches along the highway or higher up on the mountain where they still make nests, away from their #1 predator, house cats.
All the land animals were brought over by man unless by chance they arrived by wind, water, or waves. Larger animals, like wild boar and chickens were brought by the original Polynesian settlers to help establish new villages across the Pacific. Mice, rats, cats, and mongoose came on the whaling ships and during the plantation days. Intentionally or unintentionally released to help deal with one problem or another. Axis deer were brought in for a gaming reserve in the 1860’s and their numbers exploded from 50 to 50,000 or more today. They are the reason there is a 6ʻ foot high fence surrounding the fragile landscape of Haleakala National Park, the only national park to be completely enclosed by fence. They are a rather small species of deer from India and they are spotted, much like the baby fauns of well known deer in more temperate zones. Their spotted coats and skittish behavior makes them hard to see. This is because their natural predator in India is the tiger!