The HETF is located on Hawai‘i Island and consists of two Units – the Laupāhoehoe Wet Forest Unit and the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Dry Forest Unit. Both Units are located on lands managed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The HETF is cooperatively managed by the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and the USDA Forest Service under a 35-year Cooperative Agreement establishing the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest.

Both Units include long term climate monitoring equipment as well as forest dynamics plots. The Laupāhoehoe Unit also includes hydrology monitoring equipment. Facilities to support education and research activities are also available in each Unit.