While Maui Ocean Center showcases marine life and fish, a tour offered by the family embraces Hawaiian culture and plants. Visitors to the Maui Ocean Center now have the opportunity to join a new tour dedicated to native plants and their significance in Hawaiian culture. Guided by a marine naturalist, the 90-minute tour was developed with support from Maui Nui Botanical Gardens in Kahului. Hawaiians were astute in acknowledging the intricate link between plants and marine life, a connection underpinning several fundamental aspects of Hawaiian culture.
The Hawaiian Culture & Plant Tour invites guests to experience the subtle fragrances of these plants, discover their Hawaiian names, and explore their cultural importance.
The Smells of Hawaii Nei
This tour engages all your senses: you’ll get to savor the delicate fragrance of the pōhinahina leaf, listen to the kukui nut as it rattles within its shell, delve into ʻōlelo noʻeau (Hawaiian proverbs), use a pohaku ku’i ‘ai (poi pounding stone) to mash kalo (taro root), and savor a variety of crops originally brought to Hawai‘i by Polynesian settlers.
Your knowledgeable naturalist will guide you on a journey from the mauka (mountains) to the makai (sea), celebrating plants like the ‘Ohia Lehua, which laid the foundations of life on this once barren volcanic island, and the Kahakai, whose blooms are at the heart of various mo’olelo (Hawaiian legends).
Bringing Awareness to protecting the Ocean
Although public awareness of Hawai‘i’s native, endemic, and canoe plants has diminished over time, it’s entirely plausible to envision a cultural and culinary revival of these species, particularly when organizations like the Maui Ocean Center and the Seascape provide them with a platform. This resurgence may, in turn, foster a renewed understanding of how our terrestrial activities impact the ocean. After all, everything is interconnected, and the evidence lies within the plants. Whether you’re curious about the role of plants in traditional Hawaiian culture and ecosystems or you’re a gardening enthusiast seeking a deeper understanding of Hawai’i’s plant life, we’re confident that you’ll thoroughly enjoy this experience!
We recommend this tour for participants aged 10 and above due to its duration and content, and the price is $35 per person. Closed walking shoes are advisable. Given the tour’s physical demands, we suggest this experience for individuals who can comfortably walk or stand for the full 90-minute duration and are prepared for exposure to both full- and partial-sun environments.