Archive for the ‘Garden of Eden’ Tag

Hawaii’s Botanical Gardens   6 comments

The Na’Aina Kai Botanical Garden is what I wanted to see: exotic plants, manicured gardens, statuary and lovely vistas around every corner.

When we first went to Hawaii, I didn’t really know what to expect.  I mean, I had seen Hawaii Five-O (and played that wonderful theme song, like every high school band in the ’70s).  I’d even seen surfing contests on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, back when that was the only Saturday afternoon escape available for a nascent sports junkie.

But what was Hawaii really like?  I mean, a tropical paradise?  That’s what I saw when I watched South Pacific (and in spite of a spirited discussion we had one night with the family, that is a GREAT musical … but a dated & lousy film at this point!).

Given our love of photography and, uh, pretty things, Velda and I have visited several gardens in Hawaii.  Here is our ranking and recommendation for your visit to Hawaii:

1. Kauai – Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens

This is what I think a wonderful botanical garden should be.  It’s probably too big:  we did a guided tour that was about 2 hours long, and I don’t think we saw 30%, and I know we didn’t enjoy fully most of what we did see.

This garden has it all:  it’s got a huge variety of plants.  It’s got waterfalls.  It’s got statuary.  It’s a working hardwood plantation.  It’s pretty.  Gorgeous, really.  I recommend it without reservation — which you will need when you visit.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden has a dizzying array of exotics, such as these Rose Grapes from the Philippines.

2. Hawaii (Big Island) – Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

This garden is truly a tropical paradise.  You follow a creek through a meandering path with little grottoes liberally sprinkled around the path with exotic flowers and plants everywhere you look.  The path goes all the way to the ocean.  The views are gorgeous.  Do not miss this garden.

3. Maui – Garden of Eden Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Worth the price of admission, but not an essential part of going on the Road to Hana.  Pretty plants, wonderful paths to wander around.  See some pictures, below.

4. Hawaii (Big Island)World Botanical Garden & Waterfalls

This 3-tier waterfall is unusual for 2 reasons: it’s a 3-tier waterfall, and it can only be seen after you pay the admission to enter the World Botanical Garden.

I wrote about this garden previously, in 30: Hawaii.  As I said there, this is the least appealing garden we have visited.  Not all bad, but probably not worth the price of admission.

National Tropical Garden

5. Kauai – National Tropical Botanical Garden

There are 3 sites for the NTBG on Kauai:

South Shore – McBryde Garden
South Shore – Alerton Garden
North Shore – Limahuli Garden and Preserve

We visited the office on the South Shore without knowing what we were walking into, and decided that we didn’t have the time to spend on what seemed like an expensive guided tour.  We passed, and haven’t found time to go back.  I’m sure we will … but for now, I’ll simply state that their tours seemed expensive and their marketing hasn’t been persuasive.  We did spend an hour or so in their free access public area around the office, and that was, uh, worth what we paid for it.

The paths through the Garden of Eden are cinder-lined, which means they are not treacherous when wet; it does rain frequently here!

Norfolk Island Pine trees were planted by sailing ship captains who prized them for their long, straight trunks, and needed a ready supply of replacement masts when they stopped at the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was known in the 19th century.

Variegated Ginger

Rainbow Eucalyptus tree

Maui: The Road to Hana   2 comments

This is no simple road trip.  But if you are fortunate enough to visit Maui, you need to go on the road to Hana.

A tropical paradise is all around you!

This trip is not about the destination: it’s about the journey.  We’ve been to Hana, and found there really was no there there.  This isn’t about going to Hana … it’s about how beautiful it is to get to Hana.

Your driver will be busy.  There are 57 one-way bridges on the Road to Hana.  The drive is not that difficult, but it does require some road etiquette (let the first one to the bridge go through first) and patience throughout the drive.  Remember a few things:

  1. You are on vacation.
  2. You are not on a schedule.
  3. People want to pass you?  Let them.  More open road for you.  It’s prettier that way.

Gypsy Guide mixed historical trivia with scenic outlook tips and directions.

A great tool that we found for our trip was Gypsy Guide, which provides a purpose-built GPS system that will direct you to the wonderful sights along the road — it even shows you pictures of famous Hawaiians and explains their roles in history during your journey.  Just the thing so I didn’t have to talk to Velda on the road; well worth the nominal cost.  JOKE.  Joking.  I love talking to Velda.  Talk talk talk, that’s me in the car.

The Garden of Eden, currently $10 per person, is a nice diversion.

Picked the unit up in Lahaina at 6:30am; it was a great addition to the trip.  $39 for the day: very cheap for a guided tour.

But back to the road.

We got a recommendation to get on the road early, so we were through Kahului by 8am, and began our day with an early visit to the Garden of Eden Arboretum & Botanical Garden.  You’ve got to admit:  it’s a pretty grand name.  It’s definitely a good side trip:  it was a couple of hours in an interesting garden, but not essential.  Spend your time as you choose (remember, it’s about the journey).

We chose to stop at every waterfall.  Particularly noteworthy were 3 Bears Falls and Wai’anapanapa State Park and its black sand beach.  Don’t miss those!

Once you get past Hana, you can continue to the Seven Sacred Pools, which are a part of Haleakala National Park if you want to see it all … or wander back and see what you missed while you were driving east.

So, the day is yours.  Wander from waterfall to waterfall (see the pictures below), fruit stand to fruit stand (we found Longans, AKA Dragon’s Eye Fruit, for the first time on this trip, and that is no small thing!), Kodak Photo Spot to Kodak Photo Spot (remember those?).

Remember:  it’s about the journey.

It’s a short walk down the path to Ching’s Pond, where we saw some locals “cliff diving” from road level down into the pool about 25′ below. Not for the faint of heart!  Note the guided tour bus … just driving by.  Not the way I would choose to see the sights!

3 Bears Falls, AKA Upper Waikani Falls, is a gorgeous 3-part waterfall in a spendor of ferns and tropical jungle. This picture was simply taken from the road’s shoulder!

This spectacular shot is my favorite shoreline picture I’ve taken in Hawaii … and I’ve practiced extensively on 4 islands!

Wai’anapanapa is the only black sand beach on Maui.

Koki Beach has signage warning of the dangerous offshore currents. Not much danger when you take pictures from terra firma, though!

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