Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

This entry is part [part not set] of 14 in the series Hawaii - The Big Island


Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

The Hilo or eastern side of the island of Hawaii is the wet side and features tropical rain forests, orchid gardens and macadamia nut farms. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is located in the luscious 17 acre Onomea valley, and takes you from the visitors center down to the shoreline of Onomea Bay. The garden is filled with palms, anthuriums, orchids, ferns and more in it’s 2,000 species of tropical plants. From elevated boardwalk to streams and waterfalls, orchid and water gardens, to stands of palms, bamboo and banana trees, the garden is a visual feast which can hardly be absorbed in a couple of hours wandering the paths. Even if you don’t know the difference between a palm, coconut or banana tree, the garden will give you a true taste of the variety and splendor of the tropics. Welcome and enjoy the color, form and drama of the rainforest, where 150 inches of rain falls annually.

From the boardwalk the towering trees, vines and sheer size of the leaves, roots and trunks are impressive.

One of my favorite finds was the basket like shape of ferns growing abound the trees trunk. Do you ever wonder about the origin, creation and variety of such fantastic forms? It all seems so excessive and beyond description and our understanding. So beyond need and necessity, they seem to have grown to give us reason to stop and feel our own minute place in a great big story. If what I see in front of me with my two eyes is possible, how much more can be possible that I’m not even aware of? Travel is so invigorating and awakening.

The palm jungle is home to over 200 species of palms, some with hula skirts of berries, others with what looked like nuts, and some with fruit.

The palm jungle led into the quiet of the Onomea stream and gentle waterfalls surrounded by a dense fern grotto. It feels like a place in which you should only whisper.


Koi swimming in a pond surrounded by mossy rock walls was restful and gave a good place in the middle of the garden to take a seat for a moment and think about all we’d seen.

Then the color fireworks exploded in the neighboring orchid garden, and it was time to wake up and marvel at the variety of colors and patterns in these tropical gems.

Down the hill from the orchid walk and the parrot cage is Onomea Bay. We even saw a whale fully breach the water and land hard on it’s side with a huge splash.

I’m finishing with a gallery of tropical flowers that hid all throughout the valley. What an amazing morning to experience a tropical garden, in a valley on the ocean.

If ever you find yourself on the eastern side of the Big Island make sure you take time to visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and see for yourself the beauty of the rainy side of the island. Click here for more information from HTBG.

Live Aloha!

Here is Captain Dan’s tip for visiting the Botanical Garden: The trail through the garden is steep and fairly long so wear comfortable walking shoes. If you have difficulty walking you can arrange a golf cart ride at the office.

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