Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, A Beautiful Garden In A Valley On The Ocean
Imagine this. Breathtaking natural beauty surrounds you. Simply “nani.” Everywhere you look, there is something new, extremely unexpected, and new to experience. If you are looking for something amazing to awaken all of your senses at once, add The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden located in Hilo to your Hawaii vacation bucket list. You just have to personally see this special place for yourself because there are no words perfect enough to describe its magnificence. It’s like a piece of paradise that everyone needs to discover. It’s waiting for you to enjoy every single inch of gorgeousness. There are more than 17 acres of lush, tropical foliage, waterfalls, and trails, along with this natural habitat that is home to hundreds of plants and creatures. It’s vibrant, colorful, and will go beyond your expectations. It’s truly a natural masterpiece that is like no other anywhere in the world. Get your comfortable shoes and your imagination ready for the hike of a lifetime.
It All Started As A Man With A Big Dream for the Big Island
Let’s start with a little history, so you’ll understand what a precious Hawaiian gift this is. Back in 1977, Dan and Pauline Lukenhouse traveled to Hawaii. They loved the Island and purchased a small vacation home in Hilo, where they planned to visit occasionally. During their first visit, they also fell in love with and purchased a beautiful secluded ocean valley property in Onomea Valley. It was 17 gorgeous acres of natural habitat that at one time was a charming Hawaiian fishing village. Folklore stories mention that a king once lived here! Through the years, the village was unoccupied and had become an overgrown impermeable jungle making it nearly inaccessible. But with some muscle and inspiration, Dan began one day at a time to bring the area back to brilliance. You see, the growth was so thick Dan cleared the way with machetes, cane knives, and sickles to get through and explore the lay of this untouched land. Dan refused to use vehicles or tractors in order to protect and not disturb the precious plants and roots. What he found inside was spectacular.
The Lutkenhouses understood how wonderful this piece of historical heaven was and decided to transform it into a botanical garden that would eventually be open to the public. Their goal was to create a garden that celebrated nature, respected the land, and to share it with the world. He went to work to create the boardwalk, multiple trails, landscape design, and, finally, planting a gracious garden. It took an impressive eight-year labor of love, but he did it. When completed, the couple both knew that their special garden would become an extraordinary extra special place that everyone would enjoy forever. When they felt it was ready to share with the world, they gifted it back to the Big Island community. Their dream came true, and in 1984 their legacy, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, became a scientific and educational nonprofit organization. The mission of this special organization is to ensure the land will continue to “inspire all people to live in unison with our planet through inclusive education focused on diverse ecosystems,” and remain open for everyone to see and explore. A plaque honoring Dan is located near the welcome center.
Expect the Unexpected at Big Island Botanical Garden
Even though the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is designed as a self-guided tour with a read while you stroll along map, expect the unexpected. The trail can get slippery, so we recommend wearing walking shoes with traction on the bottoms. Pack bottled water and insect spray, too. After all, this is a tropical rainforest, and it just might rain. But it won’t last very long. If it does rain, the visitors center provides umbrellas. The sound and sight of the rain really enhance the entire experience. It’s like an additional layer of nature’s beauty to enjoy.
It’s overwhelming to think that this one spectacular garden right where you are standing features beautiful streams, waterfalls, a bird aviary, ocean vistas, and scenic trails. The second you hit the 500-foot boardwalk, you might just feel like you are entering another world. The plants, many endangered, are bigger than life itself and come from all over the world. Their beauty is unparalleled, with each one seeming to thank this amazing place for bringing them here to thrive in their new home. Softly you hear the breeze respond, “Your welcome and Aloha.”
When you arrive at the botanical garden’s trail, the tropical breeze seems to sweetly make the flowers and lush foliage dance for you. You’ll also hear the birds, butterflies, bees, and other creatures welcoming you into their tropical home. As you walk, listen for the sound of flowing water in the distance as you’ll approach a natural waterfall that gracefully dances over the rocks and splashes to the water below. It’s almost as if the waterfall intends to entertain you with an orchestra of natural elegance. You will feel different than you ever have before. This is a very special botanical garden that will feed your soul. It’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in this once-in-a-lifetime moment in time. Close your eyes and listen to what is happening around you. It’s truly one of those emotional experiences that you’ll remember forever. Enjoy every single second and everything you see, hear, smell, touch, and so much more.
Experience More Than 2,000 Tropical Plants From All Over The World
The clever boardwalk leads you on your extraordinary journey and loops you right back to the entrance. There are more than 2,000 different species of tropical plants, including vines, colorful orchids, and gigantic bamboo trees, extraordinary palm trees that seem to reach all the way into heaven. There are canopies of growth above your head and to the left, and to the right. The huge ferns, striking orchids, fragrant roses, and other head-turning flowers pop with brilliant color and grace among the lush greenery backdrop. The locals’ beloved Satin Pothos is a vine growing throughout the trails that seems to climb like shingles up into the palm trees, then continues into the brilliant blue sky. It’s a spectacular rainbow of color, an intoxicating fragrance, and a one-of-a-kind experience for your senses. This is the perfect destination for every age and every walk of life. It is for the young and young at heart. At Hawaii Botanical Gardens, you will feel like a kid again.
Learning is a lifetime journey, and there are all sorts of new things to learn about here. They make it easy, too. Almost every plant in this paradise is labeled, creating a learning experience like no other. The ferns are the backdrop for some out-of-the-world flowers that are larger than life. You won’t believe the size of the leaves. They are huge and massive, almost gigantic. There is also the smallest miniature flora and fauna that blends beautifully with this tropical dreamland. One of the best things about hiking through this rainforest is it is immaculately cared for, and signs along the way educate you on the beautiful things you are experiencing. We suggest taking plenty of pictures, so you can not only remember your visit but can share everything you enjoyed with your family and friends.
Tropical Big Island Botanical Gardens Location
It’s easy to fit a visit to The Tropical Big Island Botanical Gardens into your exciting Hawaiian vacation. They’re conveniently located in the beautiful Onomea Valley, approximately five miles north of Hilo. From Hilo, travel on Highway 19, and between mile markers seven and eight, take the road leading to Onomea Bay and drive until you see the sign for Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.
They are open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Simply call their visitors center at 808-964-5233 if you have any questions regarding schedule changes, weather forecasts, etc. Their friendly and welcoming team will assist you in any way they can. Admission is a budget-friendly $20 for adults and $5 for children ages six to 16. There is no admission fee for children under six. It is important to note that the boardwalk that leads into the botanical garden is not wheelchair accessible. For an additional fee, the center will provide a golf cart to help transport anyone in your party who needs a ride up and down the boardwalk. A non-electric wheelchair is ok and can be used in the lower garden area.
We hope you will visit this truly amazing botanical garden while on the Big Island. Aloha!