There are a lot of great reasons to visit Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, including the friendly staff and volunteers… But as nice as we are, we'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't admit that the wildlife are the main attraction. This is, after all, their home, and we their visitors. There are a lot of things to do: view wildlife, head out on the trails, photograph nature, visit the visitor center, connect children with nature, educational and interpretive programs, and volunteer service projects.
The main wildlife-dependent activities at Keālia Pond NWR are wildlife observation, photography, and environmental education and interpretation. The refuge is a popular place for birdwatching, particularly when migratory birds are present from August to April.
It's never too early to begin a connection to nature that can provide a lifetime of benefits. Keālia Pond NWR is an excellent place to introduce children to nature for the first time or satisfy the urge to be outdoors for those kids who already appreciate nature's benefits.
Check out the programs below for kids of all experience levels, from the littlest Jr. Ranger to the naturalist-in-training. (Jr. Ranger program tab and kids activities tab)
- Wildlife Viewing
The refuge is popular for birdwatching not only for close-up glimpses of endangered ae‘o and ‘alae ke‘oke‘o, but for viewing the diversity of migratory birds that use the refuge during winter months. Shorebirds arrive in August and waterfowl begin increasing in September-October. This is an exciting time of year because infrequently seen birds show up and can become a challenge for even the seasoned birders. The Native Plant Pollinator Garden is located behind the Visitor Center and is a quiet location to observe the daily dance between plants and pollinators. Sit on a bench and watch nature or meander the path to see the plants in closer detail.
Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world. From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.
In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors. Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species. Check with the front desk for current program offerings.
- Environmental Education
National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources. Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences. Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities. Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.
Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular ? Contact or visit the refuge to check on program availability and reservation policies. Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!
Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.
Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list. Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive!