May is Maaavaalousss at Koko Crater Botanical Garden.

I can’t believe that I still have the original newspaper article (02/29/08) that planted the plan in my head to visit this garden, and I also can’t believe that it took me till just this past May to finally get there!

KCBG is in East Honolulu, and is considered a desert garden inside the old tuff crator, located around the bend from Haunamau Bay. There is a two mile loop trail that can be easily hiked, but it is not paved, nor are there any facilities. But there is an attendant at the entrance, and it’s free to the public (but not to dogs.. no animals allowed).

The garden is open all year, and the rocky desert gardens can be enjoyed anytime, but that is not what will take me back again next year. One sentence in the original article is KEY, “the best time to see the 80 or so kinds of plumeria in full glorious bloom begins in May”. And that’s when I went, and re-went, and re-went again, each time taking another local friend who also had never been to the garden – who in turn was just as amazed as I was and who played it forward’ and took other friends.

So what amazed us – overwhelmed us – was the plumeria grove. Yes, 80 amazing trees, some up to 100 years old, varieties I never knew existed, all in bloom at the same time. The grove went on for 100 yards, but the scent of it hit you 100 yards before you even saw it. It was heaven. It was glorious. The colors, the variety, the spectacle of it… well, it’s worth writing about, and worth making an effort to see. I see tourists oohh and aaahh over just one plumeria tree. X that by 100 and you’ll understand why I’m raving about this garden.

To be fair, the rest of the garden is interesting. There are varieties of plants that were fascinating to see. And the cactus garden is fun to walk around in, with giants standing over you. Definitely take your camera with you. Take water to drink. Go in the morning or late afternoon, when it’s cooler. But just GO!


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