Big Island Company Recognized in OUTSIDE’s Best Places to Work 2015

Hawaii Forest & Trail is the only company from the state of Hawaii to have been selected as one of OUTSIDE’s Best Places to Work 2015. Each year, OUTSIDE recognizes the top 100 companies in the United States that help their employees strike the ideal balance between work and play. These companies encourage employees to lead an active lifestyle, are eco-conscious, and prioritize giving back to the community.

Hawaii Forest and Trail President Rob Pacheco interprets the geology of Hualalai.  Photo PF Bentley

Hawaii Forest and Trail President Rob Pacheco interprets the geology of Hualalai. Photo PF Bentley

This prestigious recognition by OUTSIDE magazine as one of the best places to work across the country is truly an honor. When we started Hawaii Forest & Trail in 1992, my wife Cindy and I made a commitment to build our business around the concept of ohana, or family, where we foster connections between our co-worker ohana and the natural world. It’s what we strive for,” said Hawaii Forest & Trail President Rob Pacheco.

“The companies recognized in this year’s Best Places to Work list are the gold standard for stellar work environments that seek to empower their employees both in and out of the office,” said OUTSIDE Online Editor Scott Rosenfield. “The new categories in this year’s list serve to highlight outstanding workplaces in distinctive fields-making it all the easier for our readers to find their dream jobs.”

What Makes Hawaii Forest & Trail A Great Place to Work?

When Rob and Cindy Pacheco founded Hawaii Forest & Trail in the garage of their house, they never dreamed their tour operation would grow to have more than 50 employees at 3 locations on Hawaii Island. The secret to their success has always been finding employees who share their passion for the outdoors, for each other and their island home.

As the company continues to grow, Hawaii Forest & Trail emphasizes the cultivation of close personal connections and provides employees with new opportunities. Just recently Hawaii Forest & Trail launched its “Ohana and Natural Resources Department” where the primary focus is to develop staff education opportunities, conservation partnerships, and community involvement. Initiatives developed by this department include staff BBQs, group volunteer programs, ongoing educational lectures from natural and cultural experts, and an invitation to participate in community hikes. These opportunities for personal growth coupled with the company’s unparalleled access to some of Hawaii Island’s most beautiful natural sites make working at Hawaii Forest & Trail a dream job for many of Hawaii’s outdoor enthusiasts.

Hawaii Forest & Trail also believes in kuleana and acts on that sense of responsibility by providing a strong package of staff benefits that includes healthcare, a 401K matching plan, paid vacation time, and comp tickets on any of their adventures.

“We strongly believe that to be the best at what we do, we have to compete for the best candidates every time we hire,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Jason Cohn. With all their employee perks it’s no wonder Hawaii Forest & Trail has managed to retain their first full-time guide and first full-time dispatcher who both still remember showing up to clock-in at Rob and Cindy’s house more than 17 years ago.

To find the best places to work in the United States in 2015, OUTSIDE started by creating five company categories that reflect the magazine’s values and focus: Adventure/Travel, Wellness, Culture, Gear, and Media. OUTSIDE then conducted a rigorous vetting process in partnership with the Best Companies Group to assess the policies, practices, and demographics of hundreds of companies. Outside’s Best Places to Work 2015 was driven by employee reviews of their workplaces, taking into account factors like corporate culture, role satisfaction, work environment and overall employee engagement. The Best Places to Work list represents the cream of the crop: companies that are empowering their employees to live bigger, better lives.

The complete list of Best Places to Work winners is featured online at

Next Stop TV – Big Island Edition Now Available on YouTube

In March of 2011, I was asked to be on the television show Next Stop TV where they filmed some adventures that were done here on the Big Island and the segment I was in was with Hawaii Forest & Trail.

Me inside the “Pinz” with Next Stop TV host John Olson.

The show aired a few months after we filmed it in different parts of America and I just noticed that Next Stop TV has loaded the full episode to YouTube and is now available for viewing:


Zip Lining on the Big Island at Kohala Zipline… Like Living in an Ewok Village

Riding on almost all of the zip lines on the Big Island in the past few years has been quite thrilling and this past weekend I was invited to go zip-lining with one of the islands newer operations the Kohala Ziplines.

The headquarters is located in historic North Kohala at 54-3676 Akoni Pule Hwy, Kapaau, HI 96755

We were scheduled for a 9:00 am tour that began at their base located in North Kohala.  We signed release waivers and geared up there at the base.

The guides help gear us up

The operation itself is run by the well known local company Hawaii Forest & Trail, and after we geared up, we jumped in one of their six-wheeled Pinzgauers and took off for about a 20 minute journey down the North Kohala Highway until we turned off onto some land that used to be owned by King Kamehameha himself.

Our ride for the day provided by Hawaii Forest & Trail

We arrived at the Zip Lines and walked over a suspension bridge to the first zip line.

Just one of a few suspension bridges on the course

Our guides gave us an overview of how the dual zipline harness system works.

Our guide tells us how the zip lines work... and most importantly... how to stop!

This is the first Zip Line I have ever been on that the pulleys were attached to two ziplines one above the other.

You're literally attached to two ziplines for added safety

These Ziplines also had like a plastic type of coating over them which made them really quiet and a smooth ride… when they get a little wet… the ziplines go even faster!

Zipping down a Kohala Zipline

The Zipline “Canopy Tour” as it’s often referred to, has 9 ziplines in all and they call the first two… “Flight School” because if you get too scared or are not able to handle the requirements needed to be on the ziplines… they have a short little “Zipline of Shame” as my friend coined it before the third zipline where folks can bail on the rest of the trip.

"Flight School" the first two ziplines on the course are 220 feet and 230 feet respectively

About half way through the course you come across this area of suspension bridges and an inclined suspended bridge that are quite unique.

Entering Ewok Village

You are constantly strapped into ziplines whether it’s the pulley system or just the grappling clips.

Some folks even chose to walk backwards for added excitment on some of the bridges

They were calling this course a “Challenge Course” as you yourself have to do the braking by sliding your hands gently against the ziplines by gloves provided by the company.

There is an emergency brake in place at the end of each zipline for those that forget to brake

About three fourths the way through the course, they provided us with some light snacks that consisted of Macadamia Nuts and Granola Bars and then we took off for the last few zip lines.

The final zipline was this side-by-side zipline where you can race your friends down a steep run that is nearly a quarter mile long!

The final zipline is a side by side zipline

I myself think the ziplining part was the easy part… the scarier part for me was doing the rappeling down a couple of the towers like this final tower at the end of the course.

This is the tallest platform we had to rappel from and that was at the end of the course

I really had a great time and I’d like to thank the folks at Hawaii Forest & Trail for inviting me and an old high school friend to check them out.

Hawaii Forest & Trail brings you the Kohala Ziplines

New Zipline Adventure Opens on the Big Island – The Kohala Canopy Adventure

Kohala Zipline swings into action this month with a new pure tree experience, the Kohala Canopy Adventure. This thrilling aerial trek captivates and challenges your senses while leaving you feeling you have accomplished something you may have never dared to try before.  Built on two decades of award winning guided adventures, Hawaii Forest & Trail delivers this nature-based elevated inspiration with style. The canopy course design is a tree-to-tree experience that features 5 elevated suspension bridges, 14 soaring tree platforms, 9 thrilling ziplines and 2 rappels.

Kohala Zipline

Kohala Zipline

World Class Canopy Course Builders Working in Harmony with Nature The Kohala Canopy Adventure embraces the captivating beauty and history of Kohala’s Halawa Gulch with platforms built in towering trees that connect each zipline and allow guests to absorb the trainquility of a meandering stream, ancient taro fields and the forest floor below. These eight dual-cable, single-rider and one dual-cable tandem rider ziplines were constructed by a team of expert canopy course builders from Colorado and Costa Rica.

The platforms and elevated sky bridges use lumber milled from trees on site with minimal impact to the forest. “The serenity and natural beauty of this site really speaks for itself.  Leaving as much of the canopy intact to create a nature based tour was our biggest challenge and we’re really excited about the outcome of this project.  It is one of the highest quality sites I’ve had an opportunity to work on,” states Victor Gallo, Co-Founder of Adventure Playground, and Site Construction Manager for Kohala Zipline.  “We wanted to honor the site by having as little disturbance as possible among these 100 year old trees.”

Kohala Zipline

Kohala Zipline


Along with creating an aerial trekking course that raises the bar on adventure tours, Kohala Zipline installed the latest safety features available today.  Beginning with redundant attachment points throughout the trek, guests also enjoy being guided by professionally certified Zipline Guides, showing that safety is truly a priority.

Kohala Ziplines

Kohala Ziplines

Kohala Zipline uses a twin line cable system with two trolleys, one secured on the top line and one secured on the bottom line.  Each line is constructed of aircraft-grade galvanized steel and coated with a proprietary polymer blend that reduces line noise by more than 50%. Kohala Zipline is Hawaii’s only course to use WhisperLinesSM, which allows guests to hear the distinctive sounds of the forest rather than line noise.

“Our guests feel really safe and comfortable being able to utilize the customized ‘participant control system’ for braking rather then the typical gravity brake other operators employ. This improved system allows the riders to control speed and orientation, making them true participants in their adventure, not simply along for the ride,” says Rob Pacheco, co-founder of Kohala Zipline. And, like other state-of-the-art safety systems found throughout the adventure, the redundant guide operated braking system is always in place in the event the rider needs assistance coming to a safe and smooth stop.

Kohala Zipline

Kohala Zipline equipment

The Kohala Canopy Adventure takes guests from 8 years to 80 years old on a 3 hour adventure into a natural wonderland where riders are initiated with a short-course zipline that allows time for individual training in technique, proper positioning, hand braking and movement from platform to platform. As participants continue through the aerial course, ziplines increase in length and speed, ranging from about 110 feet to the memorable 1,100 foot course finale; a dual-rider, side-by-side zipline that stretches out over the Kohala Ditch flume some 75 feet below. By the time the rider’s feet are back on solid ground, nearly a mile will have passed underneath.

For more information or to book a Kohala Canopy Adventure call Kohala Zipline at 808-331-3620 or visit

Next Stop TV – The Big Island… Airs This Weekend

The travel adventure show Next Stop TV that filmed here last month on the Big Island will start airing the Big Island segments tomorrow.

Next Stop TV

Next Stop TV talks to Rob Pacheco of Hawaii Forest & Trail

I was lucky enough to be an “Extra” on the show during the scenes that were filmed with Hawaii Forest and Trail along the Kohala Coast.

Next Stop TV

Riding in a Pinzgauer

The time slots are on KHNL (NBC) at 6:00 pm on Saturday night and 11:00 pm on Sunday night.

Next Stop TV
Next Stop TV airs this weekend

You can check out some clips that host John Olsen did with KHNL news here:

Hawaii Forest & Trail Honored as 2010 Rotary Club of Kona Business of the Year

Media Release:

Hawaii Forest & Trail was honored as the Rotary Club of Kona 2010 Business of the Year at their recent monthly membership meeting and luncheon.

Cindy and Rob Pacheco Accept the 2010 Rotary Club of Kona Business of the Year Award

The Rotary Club of Kona has been honoring local businesses in the West Hawaii community with quarterly awards for several years. The Business of The Year award recognizes recipients for their outstanding commitment to the community. This year, the service club decided to move from quarterly awards to honoring one business that aligned with its own dedication to community service as a source for hard work and a better life in the community.

This was the ride that took us out to Waipio Valley

The 2010 Business of the Year Award honored Hawaii Forest & Trail for its commitment to environmental education, creating a healthy workplace and for e hoomaluo (conserve our natural resources), a program within the company designed to support and inspire the conservation of Hawaii’s natural resources through corporate giving, stewardship and sustainable business practices.

Travel Writer John Fischer (About.Com) and Deston Nokes ( hike Waipio Valley while Becky Ryan from Irondog Communications ( follows up the pack

“This is an exciting time for Hawaii Forest & Trail. We inspire guests everyday on our guided nature tours. Through this inspiration, we turn guests into stakeholders in Hawaii and Hawaii Forest & Trail,”said Hawaii Forest & Trail President and Founder Rob Pacheco. “As we inspire others to conserve Hawaii’s rich natural and cultural resources, a deeper experience emerges for our visitors and community.”

Our guide Rob Pacheco tells us about Waipio Valley and the history of the valley

Hawaii Forest & Trail has received several awards including 2009 Rand McNally Best of the Road Editor’s pick, Hot Blue 100 List, and was a recent recipient of the Ecotour Operator of the Year Award by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association.

I take in one of the many waterfalls along the Waipio Rim hike

About Hawaii Forest & Trail

Hawaii Forest & Trail was founded and is operated by Rob and Cindy Pacheco, who share their passion and knowledge of Hawaii’s natural beauty with visitors from all over the world. Hawaii Forest & Trail’s vision is to inspire the conservation of Hawaii’s natural resources. Most recently, Hawaii Forest & Trail Hawaii launched their new company-wide conservation initiative entitled e hoomaluo (conserve our natural resources). The program mission is to support and inspire the conservation of Hawaii’s natural resources through corporate giving, stewardship and sustainable business practices.

The Best Hike I Have Ever Been On… Mahalo Hawaii Forest & Trail

As I mentioned earlier, today, I had the great pleasure to be part of an extraordinary group of individuals from the mainland that the Big Island Visitors Bureau has brought for a week of fun and adventure.

Today I got to join the pack on a Hiking Adventure Tour Around the Rim of Waipio Valley that was done by a Big Island Adventure company called Hawaii Forest & Trail.

We gathered at the Waimea Country Club this morning at 9:00.

Where tour guide Rob Pacheco met us promptly and gave us a brief run down of what was going to happen over the next few hours.

We all climbed into a Six-Wheeled PinzTrek and got ready for the ride of a lifetime.

I hung my head out the window risking getting my head getting chopped off to shoot the follow clip of us going down.


After we got to our initial destination, we got out and Tour Guide Rob, gave us water and walking sticks and let us know a little more about what we were doing.

Our tour guide here explains one of the important traditions that one must do before crossing the sacred lands.


And we were off

The first little waterfall and pool that we came across was beautiful

So we stopped there long enough to take pictures of everyone

And of course we had to have a group shot

We pressed on further as we new we were not at the rim of the valley yet.

We came across one of the first openings of the valley almost everyone was impressed vocally.  Unfortunately it was a bit VOGGY today.

As we walked along the rim of the valley there were lots of little scenic spots along the way.

One of the scarier parts of the hike, was when our tour guide offered us a peak directly over the cliff of a waterfall.  I was a bit chicken and was only able to take the following two pictures as my heart was racing as I knew how much of a drop it was.

We continued on and passed a few more waterfalls and stream beds

By this time we were getting hungry and it was just about the perfect time as we ended up at a clearing with some picnic tables and they brought out sandwiches, chips, cookies and sodas to eat.

We got back into the Pinztrek and headed to the final destination which was the lip of the valley.  Unfortunately as mother nature would have… it was a very Voggy Day and visibility wasn’t the greatest.

I lost track of the time, but I would say around 2:00 or so the tour ended and we were brought back to the country club the same way we were brought into the back of the valley.

This was truly the best hike I have ever taken and I’m stoked that I had the opportunity to join such a great group of folks from the mainland.

I’ll be naming them in some upcoming posts… I know that’s what everyone wants to know… is who are they.

You can click on the pictures below for even more pictures:

Where I Am… NOW

Today marks what will be an incredible three days of excitement for me.

Today, I’m off on a customized Waipio Rim Hike Adventure courtesy of Hawaii Forest & Trail and the Big Island Visitors Bureau.

I’ll write more about my adventure when I get back home.  The following is just a picture I snagged off Flickr:

This is pretty exciting for me.  I’ve been down into the valley, but never had the the opportunity to walk around the rim of the valley.

What’s even more exciting, is meeting the folks from the magazines that I’m going on this 3 day whirlwind excursion with.

I’ll write more about who they are and what magazines/online sites they represent in the following days.

I’d just like to say thanks ahead of time for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

I’m not sure if I will have access to post to my blog from the rim of the Valley so I have pre set the timing of  this post to be posted to my blog at about the same time I think I’ll be hitting the Rim of Waipio Valley.

Big Island Offering Great Deals for Locals

Media Release

Kama‘āina Specials Launch Sunday on


The Big Island Visitors Bureau and its island activity, lodging and dining partners have pooled resources to splash out unbeatable savings for kama‘āina travelers.

“We have paradise right here on Hawai‘i’s Big Island, and it’s just a short drive or short and affordable flight away,” said George Applegate, Executive Director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau.

The weather is fabulous, Kīlauea volcano is putting on quite a show, and getaways, reunions and vacations are top of mind for local people – both Hawai‘i Island and neighbor island residents. Applegate said that when BIVB asked local businesses what kinds of deals they could offer kama‘āina, the organization was met with irresistible offers from all corners of Hawai‘i’s diverse Big Island.

Want to unwind on one of the world’s best beaches on the sun-soaked Kohala Coast? Take advantage of Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel’s Golden Anniversary of Statehood kama‘āina special: book two nights at $199 per night, get the third night at $50.

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Never been to Ka Lae, where sea-faring Polynesians landed their sailing canoes to discover Hawai‘i long ago?  Discover this tranquil, beautiful region and stay at Kalaekilohana, a Hawaiian-owned luxury B&B offering a “Guilt-Free Getaway” for groups for as little as $49/night per person, if your party stays three nights or more.

Kalaekilohana Bed & Breakfast

Kalaekilohana Bed & Breakfast

Want to see the sun sink beneath the clouds, then the stars light up the night sky atop Maunakea? Or take a guided trek to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park – Hawai‘i’s only World Heritage Site – to witness the recent activity at Kīlauea, both at the summit and at sea level? Compare deals by Arnott’s Lodge & Hiking Adventures, KapohoKine Adventures, and Hawaii Forest & Trail.

How about dining oceanfront at Huggo’s in Kailua-Kona? You’ll save 20 percent off entrees after 8:30 p.m. Take an underwater journey aboard Atlantis Submarines in Kailua-Kona, and keiki ride for free with a paying adult. Or, snorkel and dive at night with gentle, giant manta rays and the expert crew of Kona Honu Divers, for 15 percent off.

Atlantis Submarine

Atlantis Submarine

“There are so many remarkable experiences on Hawai‘i’s Big Island, and our island is so vast and so diverse, even Big Island residents can enjoy a real getaway by driving to a different zip code,” Applegate said.

Nearly 50 Big Island offers await residents of the 50th state on its new kama‘āina special website, . The specials will be promoted on local radio, TV and in print media, too.

Why go anywhere else? Save money and splurge on unforgettable memories right here at home, on Hawai‘i’s youngest and biggest island, where the scenery is different around every corner and the savings are spectacular.