The islands in the state of Hawaii are covered with lush tropical landscapes and harsh volcanic fiels. The four main islands (Hawaii, O’ahu, Kauai, and Maui) have widely diverse topography. Each island represents a different stage in the volcanic life-cycle. Hawaiian Botanical gardens allow visitors to discover the unique vegetation of Hawaii without having to travel every mile of every island.
There are also vast areas lost to urban development. These gardens can educate, preserve, and protect the landscape for future generations. There are many such areas on the islands, here are a few you should put on your itinerary.
The Big Island
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens ( The Big Island)
Hilo is the county seat on the eastern (windward) side of Hawaii, the Big Island. It is nestled into a bay at the base of two volcanoes, Mauna Loa an active volcano and Mauna Kea inactive. The east side of the island is a rain forest climate that receives an average of 125 inches of rain annually. These conditions make it a perfect site for the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.
Allow plenty of time
We had rented motorcycles in Kona and planned a day trip across the island to Hilo. The plan was to see the town of Hilo and the Akaka Falls, the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens was an add-on. Unfortunately we did not use our time wisely and almost ran out of rental time before we got back to Kona. In retrospect, I would totally skip Hilo in favor of the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Gardens. After running into a lengthy road work detour and blinding rainstorm we only had about 30 minutes to absorb this gorgeous place. You should plan to spend a couple of hours on the grounds. All of the plants, flowers and trees are well marked along paved paths that wind down to the ocean. It is a peaceful, fragrant and vibrant way to experience the unique plant life of Hawaii.
The admission price is $18 per person.
*Be sure to bring your bug spray*
This luscious park can be found on the island of O’ahu. It is also on the windward and wet side of this island. It is 400 acres of gardens, walking paths, lagoons and scenic drives. The park is part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens You will see: Native Hawaiian Plants, Palms, Aroids, Heliconias, Tropical Trees, Ethnobotanical Exhibits.
We were introduced to the Allerton and McBryde Gardens from off-shore on a dive boat. Our boat captain took us into the bay for a surface interval and gave us a great overview. I did not have my camera equipment with me. I am the above board photographer and the dive boats are really too wet and wild for me to bring my stuff along. The underwater equipment does not take above water shots well. From the boat this valley was the most spectacular place I had ever seen. That is saying a lot when talking about Hawaii. The Captain told us it was the scene of Jurassic Park filming. The valley is owned privately by the Allerton Trust and the further inland gardens, McBryde Gardens, are run by the non-profit NTBG (National Tropical Botanical Gardens).
Research the Schedule and Prices
The Allerton/McBryde gardens are located on the South side of the island near Poipu. On our next day off from diving we went in search of these Hawaiian Botanical gardens. We discovered that in order to go down into the brilliant valley you would need to purchase a tour of the Allerton Gardens. We found the combined price of $60 for both gardens too steep and we had not scheduled our visit right to catch the Allerton Sunset Tour. So we settled for the self-guided tour of McBryde Gardens.
It was a terrible tease because they drive you on a bus along a ridge that looks down into the Allerton Valley gardens. I tried to capture a few shots from the bus.
The McBryde Gardens provided a large and comprehensive sample of Hawaiian flora. It is not dramatically colorful but quiet and beautiful. There were not sufficient educational markings along the pathways. Hawaiian botanical gardens play an important role in preserving wildlife and educating posterity so the lack of markings was disappointing.
These Hawaiian Botanical Gardens are a perfect activity for visitors that love quiet tropical walks or someone with a passion for indigenous botanicals. I think many would find it expensive and boring. I enjoyed it but am very glad that we left our husbands back at the hotel pool.
Tropical Hawaiian Botanical Gardens
These three gardens are just a small sample of what are available on the Hawaiian Islands. I encourage you to seek these out for a quiet and natural experience of the tropical paradise.
*Be sure to bring your bug spray*