Whenever you want to get away from it all in a peaceful environment, just take a trip on over to the Ulu Laau Waimea Nature Park. Always expertly maintained by Waimea Outdoor Circle, this park serves as a fantastic spot to soak in the beauty of the Big Island. All across the landscape, you’ll find the largest collection of ohia lehua trees in the world. In between all the beautiful trees, native Hawaiian plants fill out the space just right.
Although the greenspace looks like a well-preserved slice of paradise, it was not originally in such great shape. Before the Waimea Outdoor Circle took charge of the space in 1989, it was filled with invasive plant species of all kinds. As a part of their effort to protect the island’s natural beauty, this group fought for a 50-year land lease, so they could turn the forgotten pastureland into a public park.
Once they did that, their volunteers started restoring the land by clearing out the Waimea Stream. They had to shore up the stream bed to keep erosion from damaging it further. Then, they cleaned out all the debris to restore the crystal-clear waters to their former glory. Although the process was time-consuming, it set the stage for the amazing results to come.
With the stream restored, the volunteers set out to begin replacing invasive plants with native Hawaiian vegetation. They first focused on putting in as many colorful ohia lehua trees as possible. To do that, they learned precise air layering techniques, allowing them to propagate lots of trees in a short period of time. Their efforts allowed them to create the largest collection of ohia lehua trees in the world, spanning from end to end of their 10-acre property.
To best complement the forest of ohia lehua, the volunteers elected to add stands of native koa trees to the mix. Well-known as the tree of choice for canoe-making, koa forests are a staple of the Hawaiian landscape, making them the perfect choice for the park. Along with all the trees, ferns, yellow hibiscus, and other native plants joined the mix. Shrubs, flowers, and ground cover fill out the spaces between the trees – and elevate the beauty of the 11 purpose-built garden beds.
Thanks to all that hard work, the reclaimed parklands slowly transformed into an authentically Hawaiian greenspace well-suited for nature walks, picnics, and educational outings. To help educate the community on the importance of land conservation, they built an education pavilion in the center of the park. The pavilion serves as a fantastic place for school field trips, workshops, and other educational pursuits.
Beyond the pavilion, you’ll find picnic tables placed in the shade of trees. Plus, open grassy areas are perfect for spreading out a picnic blanket. So, it’s well worth bringing along a tasty lunch to enjoy before exploring the parklands’ newfound beauty. After strolling through the park, you can rest upon the comfy benches, which are also built right where the afternoon shade falls.
-You can bring your dogs to the park but keep them on a leash at all times. Clean up after them as well to keep the park safe, clean, and beautiful for all.
-Want to learn more about all the plants in your midst? Go to the pavilion to borrow a self-guiding booklet before taking a stroll through the park. Then, return it before you leave, so other visitors can learn all about the vegetation as well.