Hawaii’s Botanical Gardens: 16 of the Most Magical Spots on Earth

The beauty of blooming gardens and towering trees takes on a new glamor when viewed against the backdrop of the Hawaiian Islands. Fill them with native flora and fauna, surrounded by Hawaii’s natural falls, foliage, and fervor, and visitors quickly realize the singular magic of a tropical botanical garden. While the untamed wilds of Hawaii are something to behold, its botanical gardens offer an unguarded and accessible view of rare and endangered plants from around the world. With miles of trails and lots to explore, we’ll take you on a journey to discover the most enchanting spots in Hawaii.

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How Many Botanical Gardens Are in Hawaii?

Hawaii has thirty-three botanical gardens and arboretums across Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. These botanical gardens showcase thousands of wild and beautiful flora from Hawaii and all over the world.

Is Hawaii Botanical Garden Free?

Despite most of Hawaii’s botanical gardens being privately owned, a fair number offer free admission. Consequently, visitors can add them to their list of Hawaii’s best budget-friendly activities. Gardens with free entry include Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden in Oahu, Ke’anae Arboretum in Maui, and Liliʻuokalani Gardens on the Big Island.

However, not all botanical gardens in Hawaii provide free admission. For example, Limahuli Garden and Preserve and Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden both require a $25 admission fee. That said, you’ll be hard-pressed to regret a single cent spent once you experience the magic inside.

Which Hawaiian Island Has the Most Botanical Gardens?

The Big Island of Hawaii has the most, with a staggering eleven botanical gardens and arboretums. The most popular on the island is the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, also called the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which encompasses over 100 acres of protected land—a drop in the bucket compared to the Big Island’s imposing size.

The 16 Most Breathtaking Botanical Gardens in Hawaii

Hawaii is home to some of the best botanical gardens in the United States. So we won’t blame you for getting carried away with any of these 16 stunning botanical gardens.

Oahu’s Botanical Gardens

Oahu’s glitz and glam don’t just cover its sparkling city of Honolulu. While the iron jungle may get all the attention, Oahu’s true timeless beauty is in its natural botanical gardens spread over the island.

1. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Lush and beautiful, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden sits on Oahu’s windward side. This sprawling refuge covers 400 acres beneath the towering Koʻolau Mountain Range, offering verdant vegetation and picture-perfect panoramas. Ho’omaluhia’s free admission makes the garden’s blend of cultivated splendor and natural views all the sweeter. Picnicking by the serene lake or walking the charming trails through the garden, it becomes abundantly clear how Ho’omaluhia earned the name “peaceful refuge.” 

2. Foster Botanical Garden 

The natural beauty of Hawaii is present even in its busiest and most populous city. Located in the heart of Honolulu’s concrete jungle, Foster Botanical Garden is a shock of nature. Started in the 1850s by Dr. William Hillebrand, Foster Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Hawaii. As the first of five run by the city, it’s sometimes called the mother of Oahu’s botanical gardens

The city quickly fades from mind and view among 14 acres of towering almond palms and sweet-smelling flowers, transporting visitors to a charming tropical hideaway in the middle of a bustling giant.

3. Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens

Home to some of Hawaii’s best waterfalls and top beaches, the Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens don’t disappoint either. Directly across from Waimea Bay, the 52 gardens and over 5,000 plants beg exploration. Full of rare and interesting plants from around the world, the garden’s native Hawaiian flora, like the loulu palms and the fragrant Koki‘o Ke‘oke‘o, often shines the brightest. 

Paired with the valley’s rich history and cultural sites, the 1,800-acre ahupua‘a is easily worth the price of admission ($25).

4. Koko Crater Botanical Garden

Cradled within a crater is already a unique setting for a botanical garden. But it’s undeniable that Koko Crater Botanical Garden is special. Like Foster, Koko Crater is one of five Honolulu Botanical Gardens. The impressive dormant volcano is made even more impressive by its unique collection of gardens showcasing native plants and flora from the Americas, Africa, and Madagascar. 

Visitors can take a virtual tour, but the best way to experience this botanical garden is by hitting the trail. Open daily, a two-mile loop takes visitors through sweet-smelling plumeria groves and a hibiscus garden to an eye-catching finale filled with exotic African plants and dryland palms. Amidst the beautiful flora, it’s hard to pick a favorite feature, but the free admission is a good place to start.

Kauai’s Botanical Gardens

A botanical garden may seem counterintuitive amid the charm of Kauai’s wild majesty. But not everyone may be ready to dive headfirst into the untamed wilderness. In that case, Kauai’s botanical gardens and its easy walking paths are the perfect places to get your first look into the magnificence of the Garden Isle.

5. Allerton Garden

Kauai’s beauty is legendary, but the carefully cultivated rainforest of Allerton Garden is no less stunning for its planning. Fountains and sculptures are seamlessly woven into the natural landscape of tropical plants. With countless collections and beauty at every turn, it’s hard to settle on a standout star until you stumble upon the Moreton Bay fig trees. The massive roots hold silver-screen fame, having been featured in the classic film Jurassic Park

From the cinematic scenery to the exotic plants and garden features, the magic of Allerton Garden is worth seeing through more than just the TV screen.

6. Princeville Botanical Gardens

Kauai offers a taste of the sweet life, and at the Princeville Botanical Gardens, that’s not a figurative statement. Tropical flowers and fruits thrive in this family-owned and operated garden that enthralls visitors with its lush beauty. Of course, the pot is sweetened by the treats. 

In addition to gorgeous tropical plants, the guided tours at the Princeville Botanical Gardens treat visitors to samplings of sweet homemade honey and gourmet chocolates from around the world. The history of the cacao tree and chocolate-making will melt in guests’ mouths as they savor the flavors of Hawaii in one of the island’s most decadent botanical gardens.

7. Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens and Sculpture Park

The name is pretty accurate. This “Land by the Sea” sits perched on Kauai’s east shore, with its beautiful gardens overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Few would guess its simple backyard origins. But what began as a modest landscaping project has come to encompass a stunning, over 400-plus acre botanical garden. From a Poinciana maze to a tranquil lagoon and gardens graced with over a hundred sculptures, Na Aina Kai seamlessly combines natural elements with artificial features for an entertaining and enriching experience for the whole family. 

While the magic of the gardens isn’t free, the park offers several tours ranging from $20 to $85. On these tours, guests can get a peek into the falls, beaches, and forests that make up the Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens.

8. Limahuli Garden and Preserve

A winding journey along Kauai’s Kuhio Highway takes visitors past gorgeous falls, verdant jungles, and sheer cliffs to the inevitable end of the road and the start of the Napali Coast, a famous hiking and kayaking spot. But before that, a stop at Limahuli Garden and Preserve awaits. 

Starting at the visitor center, guided and self-guided tours weave through the preserve and lead to rich wonders, from a historic Hawaiian house to taro gardens and terrace systems that date back to the earliest Hawaiians. Between all that lies bucketloads of native Hawaiian flora to fawn over and sweeping views out over the garden from the top of the hill. A visit here quickly reveals how Limahuli earned the Best Natural Botanical Garden title in 1997 and why many consider the reservation and $20 admission fee well worth the cost.

Maui’s Botanical Gardens

Even among the lavish scenery of the Valley Isle, Maui’s botanical gardens aren’t to be missed. From scenes straight out of a Hollywood movie to trees straight out of a fairytale, Maui’s gardens are like no other place in Hawaii.  

9. Garden of Eden Arboretum & Botanical Garden

It can be hard to stand out among the Road to Hana’s many highlights, but the Garden of Eden does so effortlessly. This special garden all but demands visitors to stop and smell the roses along the journey, and many do without regrets. Originally built to protect the island’s native plants, the garden has since grown to make room for exotic plants outside the Hawaiian Islands. The result is a colorful display overlooking stunning views of lush foliage and the Pacific Ocean.

Garden guests also can’t pass up scoring a picture at the famous Keopuka Rock Overlook featured in Jurassic Park.

10. Maui Nui Botanical Gardens

Pay a visit to the tropical wonderland of the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens where native Hawaiian and Polynesian plants thrive side by side within a coastal dune system. While the gardens inevitably serve as its crowning feature (being in the name and all), the workshops offered by the botanical gardens are a unique and pleasant addition to an already captivating experience. 

Garden guests can learn how to make Hawaiian desserts, create colorful and natural dyes from plants, and construct gorgeous living wreaths for fantastic souvenirs.

11. Kula Botanical Garden

Perched on the slopes of Haleakala, the Kula Botanical Garden gives an up-close look at the vibrant and diverse life that grows along it. At 3,300 feet elevation, the garden offers a new perspective of the islands. Interspersed with tranquil waterfalls and fascinating rock formations are a collection of tropical and semi-tropical plants. Visitors can admire the beauty of the Orchid House and delight in the fun surprise of Kula’s Christmas Tree farm. If you’re spending Christmas in Hawaii, you’re guaranteed to see holiday operations in full swing at the Kula Botanical Garden.

12. Ke’anae Arboretum

The Road to Hana holds many wonders for nature lovers, and another such highlight is the Ke’anae Arboretum. Small but beautiful, the arboretum stands out, even among Hawaii’s many other botanical gardens, for the groves of fairytale-like rainbow eucalyptus trees. Yet, despite their paint-like appearance, the colors are all-natural, providing a captivating display and a perfect opportunity for a photo op. 

While the rainbow eucalyptus draws the most eyes, the rest of the arboretum holds plenty of interest, from the native Australian blue marble trees to the taro plants, papaya, and much more.

The Big Island’s Botanical Gardens

From zen-like calm to big-time fun, Hawaii tropical botanical gardens on the Big Island keep you guessing. Whether you soak in the charms of nature or pair your botanical garden visit with a trip to the zoo, you’ll have a memorable time exploring these Big Island botanical gardens.

13. Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden

Kauai gets all the credit for being paradise-like. But the coasts of the Big Island are no less heavenly, and a short drive north of Hilo to the Hamaku region will unveil one of Hawaii’s most beautiful botanical gardens. 

The Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden houses a lush tapestry of over 2,000 tropical flowers, plants, and trees. Paired with natural waterfalls and stunning views of Onomea Bay, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is an overwhelming display of Hawaii’s vibrant natural beauty. 

14. Liliuokalani Gardens

Named after the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, the Liliuokalani Gardens pay homage to their multicultural roots. While the name acknowledges Queen Liliuokalani, who donated five acres to the park, the garden’s landscape goes back to the 1860s, paying homage to the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. 

As a result, the botanical gardens stand out, even in Hawaii, for their authentic Endo style. At almost 25 acres, it’s the largest Japanese garden outside of Japan. For this reason, and many more, the Liliuokalani Gardens promise to transport you to another world of beauty and zen right within the grandeur of Hawaii’s tropical paradise.

15. Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Botanical Gardens

The United States is home to only one tropical zoo, and it’s no surprise that it resides in Hawaii on the Big Island. The Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Botanical Gardens burst with life, from tigers and monkeys to bamboo and orchids. The botanical garden complements the zoo’s animals, adding to the unique rainforest setting that can’t be found anywhere else in the country.

16. Botanical World Adventures

The name speaks for itself. Botanical World Adventures is home to heart-pounding thrills alongside its World Botanical Gardens that take your appreciation for the horticultural to new heights—literally.

The eight ziplines at Botanical World Adventures give you a fresh perspective of the World Botanical Gardens and Kamaeʻe Falls as you zip through the air above at high speeds. But, if gravity-defying adventures aren’t your speed, you can still take it slow on the ground with fragrant strolls through the Rainbow Walk, entertaining stumbles through the World Class Maze, or enchanting hikes along the Rainforest trail—you may even catch sight of other guests as they speed down the zipline above. Botanical World Adventures delivers a spectacular show whether you like your adventures fast or slow. 

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