It only makes sense for Hawaii to have a center dedicated to nature. Surrounded by thriving rain forests and verdant valleys, the islands have a natural beauty that can be explored at a fingertips reach. The Hawaii Nature Center captures the islands’ affinity for nature and – since the 1980s, has become a hub of sustainable living and learning.

Hiking the Makiki Valley Loop trail can be rewarding in so many ways.

With a center on Oahu and a second on Maui, the organization has inspired an appreciation for nature in more than 850,000 children and adults. There are programs specifically for schools in Hawaii, but the ones that visitors find the most beneficial are the community programs.

They’re like mini outdoor adventures, where kids and adults explore the many wonders of nature. The “Incredible Insects” program lets you romp through the rainforest and dig into the soil in search of bugs and insects. I remember participating in the Makiki Valley hiking program as a kid. Using all of our senses, we ventured through the valley, making sure to look down at the moss-covered floor and up toward the treetop canopies.

The Oahu Center is easy to find. It’s about a 15-minute drive from Waikiki, at the back of Makiki Valley. Many people enjoy coming here and taking a stroll on the nice paved paths that weave throughout the valley or hiking the previously mentioned 3-mile trail. You may also hear the echoes of Hawaiian song and dance, as the Center also shares the valley with a Hawaiian charter school.

The Center on Maui is located in between two parks – the Iao Valley State Park and Kepaniwai Park. You might recognize the Iao Valley State Park because that’s where the famous Iao Needle is located.

HAWAII NATURE CENTER • www.hawaiinaturecenter.org

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