You can explore Hawaii’s rainforests freely via hiking and walking, but sometimes it can be more enjoyable to explore the flora and fauna while gaining an education as well. This is best done in Hawaii’s bountiful botanical gardens, where you can find maps, signs and guides to help lead the way and point out the most interesting things.
The islands of Hawaii are notorious for lush, green, exotic beauty and it’s no wonder why so many people travel the world over to witness these tropics.
Since there is much to see in the dense forests of Hawaii, visiting a garden is one of the best ways to maximize the experience. Plus it’s safe and fun for people of all ages, a great activity for the whole family while on vacation. With over 35 different gardens to explore, you won’t be short of tropical adventures, and you’ll surely gain an education on Hawaii’s unique geography. I’ll list and describe a few of my favorites, and further below you’ll find a complete list of arboretums, botanical gardens, plantations and preserves, so be sure to work one or more in during your getaway to Hawaii.
The only university botanical garden located in a tropical rainforest in the nation as well as the only easily accessible tropical rainforest on the island of Oahu, the Lyon Arboretum is nestled in the valley of Manoa and spans almost 200 acres. With over 5,000 tropical plant species, the Lyon Arboretum works to restore Hawaii’s forests and is also an active research facility. It is a beautiful place for a picnic and offers acres of walking paths to explore- the perfect respite from the crowds of Waikiki.
8am – 4pm
9am – 3pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Donation, $5.00 per person
North Shore, Oahu
This garden is unique because at the end of the walk, guests can opt to swim in the waterfall that culminates the tour. Along the way however there are many nooks to explore, and kids love wandering through this safe and beautiful environment. Deeply rooted in history, Waimea Valley is a plethora of culture alongside its flora and fauna, and is a wonderful landmark to learn about during your stay on Oahu. And I definitely recommend a swim in the waterfall.
Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Child: $7.50 (ages 4-12)
Located on the south shore of the Garden Isle, Allerton is a garden paradise that has been passed down and up kept by many hands, beginning in 1848 with James Young Kanehoa, an advisor to King Kamehameha I. From there it was passed down to his niece Queen Emma, who planted a variety of flora, which still grace the gardens today. With varied topography ideal for growing both native and exotic plants, Allerton is a beautiful and sunny place to spend an afternoon in Poipu.
All tours include a tram ride, which departs from the Visitors Center at 9am, 10am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
Child: $15 (ages 8-12)
Garden of Eden
This botanical garden and arboretum is located in the lush interiors of Hana on Maui’s north side. It is a wonderful stop-off during your cruise around the Hana Highway, and boasts 26 acres of trails to explore. Rare trees and tropical plants adorn the trails and you can walk amongst the orchards and forests and discover hidden waterfalls on this property. With over 500 botanically labeled plants and the most extensive collection of Ti plants in the state, Garden of Eden is truly a paradise.
Open daily, 8am to 3pm
$15 per person
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
Hamakua, Big island
Situated along 4 miles of scenic coastline in Hamakua, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is literally a ‘garden in a valley on the ocean.’ With 40 acres of tropical plants and over 2,000 different species, this preserve is blessed with fertile volcanic soil that creates a true tropical rainforest. Explore the various trails and witness waterfalls, quaint streams and panoramic views here, and you will see what makes Hawaii such a sanctuary of flora and fauna.
Open daily, 9am to 5pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Child: $5 (ages 6-16)
Complete list of botanical gardens in Hawaii:
Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Kula, Maui
Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu
Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, Honolulu
Hi’iaka’s Healing Herb Garden, Kea’au
Hilo Tropical Gardens, Hilo, Big Island
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, Kaneohe, Oahu
Kahanu Garden, Maui
Kaia Ranch Tropical Botanical Gardens, Hana, Maui
Kalopa State Recreation Area, Big Island
Ke’anae Arboretum, Maui
Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu
Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden, Honolulu
Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens, Hilo, Big Island
Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Kauai
Manuka State Wayside Park, Big Island
Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului, Maui
Maui Zoological and Botanical Gardens, Kahului, Maui
McBryde Garden, Kauai
Moir Gardens, Kauai
Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kauai
Nani Mau Gardens, Hilo, Big Island
Olu Pua Botanical Garden and Plantation, Kauai
Pua Mau Place Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Kawaihae
Sadie Seymour Botanical Gardens, Kailua-Kona, Big Island
Tropical Gardens of Maui, Wailuku
University of Hawaii at Hilo Botanical Gardens, Hilo, Big Island
Wahiawa Botanical Garden, Oahu
World Botanical Gardens, Hilo