This 1000-acre garden and preserve, which is part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, honors the biological and cultural history of ancient Hawaii. The garden blankets a tropical valley overlooking Hanalei Bay on the North Shore.
Guests can either take a 2.5 hour guided tour (well worth the money), or a 1.5-hour self-guided tour (the garden offers an informational pamphlet to guide your walk).
Wander through lava rock terraces rich with still-thriving taro and native plants, stopping occasionally to view a native plover, whales spouting in the open sea, or to just take in the giant mountainous peaks guarding the trees.
This area was once the site of a sustainable ahupua’a (a model for a neighborhood), where all of the water flowing from the mountains, irrigated the food, then was routed back to the original water source to continue the cycle. Noticeably, plants and food thrived here for the ancients.
Today, visitors can view the remnants of an original Menehune taro field (that still produces vegetables), though it was built over 700 years ago. The organization has even recreated a native mesic (moist) forest, which are disappearing at an alarming rate; and there is evidence of an archeological home site of possibly a chief or kapuna. The garden provides umbrellas and recommends wearing comfortable walking shoes. Make sure to have plenty of mosquito repellent with you as bugs are aplenty.