Hawaii is home to some of the most breathtaking botanicals creating uniquely beautiful landscapes and gardens you may ever see!
And even though everywhere you turn your head, there is another Instagramable scene.
These 6 botanical gardens in Hawaii are among the best.
If your vacation plans include The Big Island or Oahu, you should make sure your trip itinerary includes plenty of time for a visit to one or all of the places on this list.
Big Island Botanical Gardens
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a must-see if you are vacationing anywhere near Hilo, Hawaii on the Big Island.
Located off the four-mile Pep’ekeo Scenic Drive lies a unique and bountiful not-for-profit botanical garden in the area known as Onomea — Hawaiian for “good feeling”.
This 40-acre valley nestled along the Pacific Ocean is home to a stunning naturally occurring, three-tiered waterfall and more than 2,000 plant species from around the world, including orchids, palms, heliconias and bromeliads.
Don’t forget to stop in at the birdhouse to be greeted by the family of macaws living in the rainforest.
The lush garden of flora and fauna features several walking trails totaling about one mile is also known as Onomea Valley.
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Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse found the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden after purchasing the property in 1977.
At that time, the land was an overgrown jungle and Lutkenhouse dedicated himself to preserving the area’s beauty by clearing it out primarily by hand with the help of just a few friends and without the use of motorized machinery.
The garden opened to the public in 1984 and was then gifted to a non-profit trust in 1995 to make sure the land would always be a place to preserve the natural beauty held within.
Daily operation from 9:00 am-5:00 pm except for Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Admission: $25 for adults (17+); $12 for children (6-16); Children under 6 are free
Botanical World Adventures
Home to World Botanical Gardens and Waterfalls, Zip Isle Zipline and Segway tours, Botanical World Adventures is a botanical garden for those who would like more thrill with their horticulture (the garden is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions but other features are still open so make sure to visit their site for more details).
Of course, you could go and have a tranquil walk around the gardens, but with 8 zip lines, why wouldn’t you want to fly over this lush rainforest off Highway 19, just 16 miles north of Hilo between the extinct volcano Mauna Kea and the Pacific Ocean.
Botanical World Adventures opened in 1995. This 300-acre eco-adventure land features some of the most impressive waterfalls, including the 100-foot Kama’e’e Falls; more than 10 acres of arboretum and several specialized gardens.
There are several tours available through the gardens, even one with the resident horticultural professor Dr. Lanny Neel who has more than 30 years of experience studying and teaching about tropical plants.
These tours will be sure to excite all of your senses as you take in the rich smells of the Hawaiian ecosystem.
Daily operation 365 days a year from 8:30 am-5:30 pm
Adults (age 18+) one week pass $33; Day Pass $15
Teenagers (ages 13-17) $7
Children (ages 5-12) $3
Children under 5 are free
Kama’aina (Hawaii residents) get a 20% discount or more every day
Active duty military personnel get kama’aina prices
Optional guided walking tours of the gardens and guided hiking tours for the rainforest and waterfalls are available with special pricing. Zipline and Segway adventures are an additional cost.
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Oahu Botanical Gardens
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
This 400-acre botanical garden’s name, Ho’omaluhia, translates as “a peaceful refuge” or “to make a place of peace and tranquility” in Hawaiian.
And it certainly lives up to it.
Created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1982, the gardens feature a tropical oasis with the help of plant species from around the world, including the Americas, Africa, India, Melanesia, Polynesia and yes, Hawaii, too.
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden acts as a flood barrier for the Kaneohe community.
This peaceful garden getaway has campgrounds available 9:00 am Friday through 4:00 pm Monday for the campers among you.
And if you enjoy fishing, Ho’omaluhia also has a 32-acre lake filled with tilapia and Midas cichlids for catch-and-release fishing.
The park provides you with bamboo poles; all you have to do is bring the bait! Make your plans to go fishing on the weekend from 10:00 am-2:00 pm.
Daily operation except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day from 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Foster Botanical Garden (Near Honolulu)
Suppose you’re in the area near Chinatown at the intersection of Nu’uanu Avenue and Vineyard Boulevard and have a desire to find some peace and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
In that case, you should take a few hours to explore Foster Botanical Garden.
For $5 a day, you can walk the 14-acre garden of beautiful trees, orchids and butterflies, and if you have young ones 6-12, they are only $1.
The oldest of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, Foster Botanical Garden began in 1853 when Queen Kalama sold about 5 acres to a German botanist William Hilldebrand who wrote Flora of the Hawaiian Islands.
However, the garden got its name from the next owners Tom and Mary Foster, who bought the land in 1884.
When Mary died in 1930, she gave what was then 5.5 acres to the City and County of Honolulu to “accept and forever keep and properly maintain the (gardens) as a public and tropical park to be known and called Foster Park.”
You can’t walk the park without seeing the Sacred Fig, a tree that may descend from the Bodhi tree where Buddha would sit in meditation.
I highly recommended you make sure to experience the free staff-guided tour at 10:30 am to truly understand the history and beauty held within the gardens.
The guided tour is popular, so make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time by calling 808-768-7135.
And if you’re looking to make a day of botanicals, once you’ve explored Foster, take a quick 15-minute jaunt to North Kuakini St. to visit Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden.
This 7.5 acre garden is free of charge and hosts the Nuʻuanu Stream and Waikahalulu waterfall.
The garden was gifted to the City and County of Honolulu by Hawaii’s last reigning monarch Queen Liliʻuokalani and is dedicated to featuring native plants exclusively.
Foster Botanical Garden is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and Lili’uokalani Botanical Gardens is open from 7:00 am-5:00 pm every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens
Obviously, with the Honolulu Botanical Garden system, there is a plethora to visit if you’re staying in and around Honolulu.
Still, there is one more of Hawaii’s best gardens to discover if you find yourself near North Shore, Oahu – Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens.
Waimea Valley is a 1,875 acre ahupua’a — a division of land stretching from the mountains to the sea.
In this one-of-a-kind landscape, the Valley has historical and cultural sites with a 45-foot waterfall and a 300 acre botanical garden that would be any nature lover’s dream.
The Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens have more than 5,000 plant species in more than 40 themed gardens.
Don’t miss your chance to learn more about these gorgeous plants…
Daily tours with botanical specialists are every day at 12:30 pm, so plan your trip accordingly. These tours are complimentary with your paid admission.
Thursdays are also the day to go to catch the Farmer’s Market from 2-4 pm.
The beautiful 1.5 mile round trip paved walking trail through the gardens is stroller and wheelchair-friendly.
Your admission ($20 for visiting adults, $16 age 62+, $12 ages 4-12) to Waimea Valley comes with the chance to experience traditional Hawaiian games, music, arts and crafts, and even a complimentary 30-minute historical walk to learn about Waimea Valley’s rich history.
For an extra $12 roundtrip, you can also take a shuttle from Hale Ho’ike to Wailele to see the majestic 45-foot waterfall where you can enjoy a swim most days.
Life jacket rentals are included in your admission, and if you happen to come on a day that swimming isn’t allowed at the waterfall, you can come back within 10 days for free access.
The Valley is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
There is always something different happening in Waimea Valley, like special dinners and moon walks, to the waterfall April-October, Summer Concert Series, or Hula competitions.
I would suggest you visit their events page before planning your trip to make sure to make the most of your visit to this breathtaking ahupua’a.
Wrapping It Up…
You don’t have to be a nature lover to see the richness of the Hawaiian island’s tropical climate.
So do yourself a favor and set time aside to visit any of the best botanical gardens in Hawaii that celebrate the most beautiful and unique plants from all over the world.
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