Hawaii is blessed with lush, green rainforests. Orchids bloom on the sides of the road, and colorful vines cover trees and telephone poles alike. Yet even in the midst of this green paradise, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden stands out.
A 40-acre wonderland, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is home to over 2,000 species of plants and flowers. In all, over 125 families and 750 genera are represented, sheltered from the tradewinds by protective valley walls and nurtured by rich volcanic soil. For photographers and nature lovers the garden is a must-see.
A raised wooden walkway winds through the different sections of the garden, taking you past waterfalls, lily ponds, heliconia, immense banyans, and towering monkeypod trees until you reach the shoreline of scenic Onomea bay. There you can see the remains of the Onomea Arch, a natural archway that collapsed in 1949. The arch may be gone, but the bay remains a place of quiet beauty.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Wildlife
As you stroll through the garden, surrounded by greenery, keep your eyes open for local wildlife. You may see the Madagascan gold dust day gecko or catch a glimpse of an Indian mongoose--both introduced species to the islands. If you think you see a hummingbird, look again and you’ll realize you’re actually looking at a nectar-drinking Sphinx month, Hawaii’s largest native insect.
Around the pools and along the streams you may spot an aukuu, or blue-crowned night heron as it hunts for for fish. If you're really lucky, you may see a Hawaiian monk seal asleep on the shoreline, or spot the rare io, or Hawaiian hawk, soaring above you.
Admission and Directions
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Admission is $15.00 per adult, and $6.00 for children aged six to sixteen. Children under the age of six get in free.
The garden is 8 ½ miles north of Hilo. Take Highway 19 and turn off on the Hamakua Coast’s four-mile scenic drive.