The islands in the state of Hawaii are covered with lush tropical landscapes, harsh volcanic fields and picture perfect beaches. The four main islands (Hawaii, O’ahu, Kauai, and Maui) have widely diverse topography from each other. Each island represents a different stage in the volcanic life-cycle. Unfortunately, there are also vast areas on the islands lost to urban development. Several Hawaiian botanical gardens allow visitors to discover the unique vegetation of Hawaii without having to travel every mile of every island. These gardens also educate, preserve, and protect the landscape for future generations.
Let’s Go! learn things about Hawaiian botanical gardens
Tropical Hawaiian Botanical Gardens on The Big Island
Hilo, HI is a county seat on the eastern (windward) side of the Big Island. It is nestled into a bay at the base of two volcanoes, Mauna Loa an active volcano and the inactive, Mauna Kea. 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. It is located in Onomea Bay, off of Highway 19 on the lush Hamakua Coast’s 4 Mile Scenic Drive, 8 1/2 miles north of Hilo.
You should plan to spend a couple of hours on the grounds. All of the plants, flowers and trees are well marked along paved trails that wind through tropical rainforest down to the rugged Pacific coast. It is a peaceful, fragrant and vibrant way to experience the unique plant life of Hawaii, as you pass burbling streams, cascading waterfalls and amazing ocean vistas.
- Admission price is $20 and the botanical gardens are open 9-5 every day except holidays.
- Bring bug spray!
- There is some limit to wheelchair accessibility so check their website for details.
Learn More: Hiking on the Big Island
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens on O’ahu
This luscious park can be found on the island of O’ahu. 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 The Hawaiian name, Ho’omaluhia, means “Peaceful Refuge”.
Locals and tourists truly find many versions of peace in this garden.
It is open to car traffic from 9AM-4PM and admission is free.
Allerton/McBryde Gardens on Kauai
We discovered 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. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera equipment with me. The dive boats are really too wet and wild for my above-board gear. 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).
The Allerton/McBryde gardens are located on the south side of the Kauai, 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.
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. This Hawaiian Botanical Garden was a perfect activity for visitors that love quiet tropical walks or someone with a passion for indigenous botanicals. However, 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.
Discover Hawaiian Botanical Gardens
These three gardens are just a small sample of what are available on the Hawaiian Islands. I encourage you to visit Hawaiian botanical gardens for a quiet, natural, and educational experience of the tropical paradise.