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A Tropical Paradise: East Maui’s Botanical Gardens

May 22, 2015, 3:49 PM HST · Updated May 22, 3:51 PM
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By Alexandra Mitchell

East Maui’s botanical gardens and arboretums are the perfect places to get close and personal to some of the island’s most beautiful tropical varieties of flora and fauna.

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden.

Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden is one of Maui’s most incredible botanical gardens, and a popular Maui arboretum to visit.

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Since 1996, this 25-acre Hawaiian-style Zion has offered visitors an incredible opportunity to see native Hawaiian flora and fauna thriving in a natural rainforest environment.

The grounds are impeccable maintained, and extremely inviting to all (especially to those who are in love with Hawaiʻi).

No matter which direction you’re driving on the Hāna Highway, the Garden of Eden is a fabulous place to visit; pause and breathe in the scent of tropical blossoms in the air, and take a sweet break from the drive.

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The Garden of Eden provides many amazing photo opportunities, with ocean, mountain and waterfall views. You will see many of Hawaiʻi’s indigenous plant species, rare trees, unique flowers and an overall vibrantly lush environment.

Here, guests can peruse through easy walking trails, relax in the picnic area, watch native bird species, and shop at their fabulous Garden Gallery that is full of beautiful Maui made art and jewelry.

Garden of Eden owner Alan Bradbury was Maui’s first certified arborist and landscape designer. And, apparently, a few of the rarest plant species on the property were donated by the late George Harrison of The Beatles. Wow!

Maui’s Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden is located just off the Hāna Highway between Kailua and Keanae (approximately at mile marker 10.5). It’s about 27 miles East of Kahului.

The Garden of Eden is also a great place for a Maui wedding or private event! The garden is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, go online.

Keanae Arboretum

Rainbow eucalyptus, Keanae Arboretum.

Rainbow eucalyptus, Keanae Arboretum.

The Keanae Arboretum in East Maui has been known as a popular “leg-stretcher” destination for all the eager beavers headed toward Hāna!

This is a great place for guests to unwind, walk the trails, and see fabulous views of the Keanae Peninsula.

Since 1971, this Maui arboretum has provided a beautiful environment for visitors to check out the local area without being invasive to the local community.

In Keanae, many folks are still living the Hawaiian way; in simplicity and peace with their families, growing taro, fishing daily and living sustainably off the land.

Keanae is not a tourist destination, but their are public restrooms here.

At the Keanae Arboretum, however, you will see huge bamboo stalks, rainbow eucalyptus, and many native Hawaiian plant species, including bananas, taro, papaya, Hawaiian ginger, hibiscus and red and green ti leaf plants.

A .6-mile-wide paved path that runs alongside Piʻinaʻau Stream leads to a grove of tropical trees: koa, monkeypod, palms and more.

The leveled terraces that lie alongside the Piʻinaʻau Stream were built hundreds of years ago by Native Hawaiians. The terraces were used to grow taro.

This Hawaiʻi arboretum has over 150 varieties of tropical plants species.

The Keanae Arboretum is located about a half-mile after mile marker 16 on the Hāna Highway. On the mauka (mountain) side of the road, you’ll see a sign for the Keanae Arboretum, and there is a parking lot entrance located across the road on the makai (ocean) side.

Kahanu Garden

Kahanu Gardens.

Kahanu Gardens.

Kahanu Garden is just one branch of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, a network of preserved, open-aired gardens in Hawaiʻi.

Created by a Congressional Charter in 1964, this nonprofit institution has over 20,000 acres of preserved natural research land in Hawaiʻi–Lawaiʻi Valley on Kauaʻi (1970) aka “McBryde & Allerton Gardens,” “Kaʻupulehu Preserve” on Hawaiʻi Island (1970s), “Kahanu Garden” on Maui (1972), “Limahuli” on the North Shore of Kauaʻi (1976) and the “Awini Preserve” on Hawaiʻi Island (1994).

So, why visit the Kahanu Gardens? Well, first of all, it is a horticulturists dream world, and the largest native hala (Pandanus) and ulu (Artocarpus altilis) forest in the Pacific Islands.

The theme of Kahanu Gardens is to maintain a plant collection of Pacific Island origin. Here, you will have a rare chance to see native Hawaiian flora and fauna, as well as those that are indigenous to neighboring Pacific Island cultures–Polynesian, Micronesian, Samoan, Tongan, Melanesian and more.

Most of the neighboring plant species were brought to Hawaiʻi by canoe during ancient Polynesian times.

Kahanu Gardens is also home to Piʻilanihale (a lava rock structure), the largest existing heiau (place of worship) in the Polynesian Islands.

Visitors can enjoy weekly self-guided and guided tours at Kahanu Gardens (approximately mile marker 31). There is a small fee for both; reservations are required for guided tours.

For more information, go online.

Mahalo for reading! What are your favorite botanical gardens to visit on Maui? Share this article with your friends and family, and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below…

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