Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is “a peaceful refuge” along Oahu’s windward side. Home to numerous tropical flora and many native birds, this is the perfect tranquil setting for a relaxing day outdoors.
There are eight distinct tropical gardens at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, with each one showcasing a different tropical region around the world. Hawaii is certainly one of the main ones, but the Philippines, Malaysia, Tropical America, India and Sri Lanka, Melanesia, Polynesia and Africa gardens are also expansive and exquisite. The gardens altogether cover 400 acres — bring your walking shoes so you can see them all.
The tropical gardens are also a favorite of many native birds, ranging from common finches and ducks to exotic cardinals and egrets. The birds tend to have their favorite gardens, but visitors are bound to see some no matter which regional gardens they go to.
In addition to the regional gardens, a pond is also home to cichlids. The tropical fish are not only fun to watch as they swim through the water, but catch-and-release fishing is also allowed. Tackle is available on-site, and bread makes for a perfect bait.
Admission to Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is free, and the acres can be driven or walked (although walking provides the best views). The gardens are a peaceful way for everyone to relax when traveling gets too hectic. Bring your camera and some bread, and you’re bound to have a pleasant time.
A few of our favorite highlights at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden include:
The Hawaii Garden
All of the plants in the Hawaii Garden can be seen on Oahu and the other islands, but only cultivated gardens provide information about the plants you’re seeing. Peruse the signs so that you learn about the local flora, and sightings of plants in the wilde will be that much more enriched.
The Polynesia Garden
The Polynesia Garden’s plants are native to islands on the other side of the Pacific, but many of these plants were brought to Hawaii long ago. Although they aren’t technically native, you’ll likely also find many Polynesian plants around Oahu. This garden provides insightful details on many of the Polynesian plants that you might see elsewhere.
The Cichlid Pond
Cichlids are brightly colored tropical fish and fun to watch even if you aren’t an angler. For those who do like to fish, though, the pond provides a unique opportunity to catch a few. Rather than using modern fishing rods, stop by to get bamboo poles with barbless hooks. Stick a little bread or other bait on the end, and you’ll likely have a bite just a few minutes after that hook is in the water.
Watch for recognizable cardinals and finches, but especially watch for less common birds that favor the tropics. The Brazilian Cardinal plays cousin to the United States’ Northern Cardinal, and the Java Finch is a particular species not normally seen this side of the Pacific. Pick up a one-page guide so you can easily identify 16 of the more common tropical birds that frequent the garden.
The garden isn’t here just to support nature and draw in visitors. It was originally developed in 1982 by the Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood protection for Kaneohe. Stop by after a storm, and you’ll see how the area soaks up water — and how that water makes all of the plants even more lush.