The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a 400-acre rainforest garden in Kaneohe featuring free outdoor activities and isn’t well known to BYU-Hawaii students.
Established in 1982, it was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers as flood protection for Kaneohe and specializes in conserving plants native to Hawaii and Polynesia. The rainforest garden houses plants from tropical regions around the world, such as Malaysia, Melanesia, the Philippines, Africa, Sri Lanka, and North America, according to the official website.
The staff provides several different activities:
There are eight campsites that can be reserved for camping over the weekend (Friday to Monday). To reserve, interested guests must purchase a $33 permit online at least two weeks before the desired camp date, though park staff recommended reserving earlier due to high demand. Each permit guarantees only three cars/parking spots, 10 people, and two tents.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the park provides free bamboo fishing rods for those wanting to fish in the 42-acre reservoir, Loko Waimaluhia. Fishing rods are handed out from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and fishing time goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Participants have to bring white bread as bait, but there are no other costs. It has a catch and release policy, and the most common fish caught is carp. The fishing rods are picked up at the Visitor’s Center and the fishing spot is about a 20-minute walk down an informative trail of trees and plants.
Whether for a picnic or other outdoors event, the sites can be reserved for group events. Only 50 people are allowed for each event. Wedding ceremonies are permitted, however receptions are not.
Students are allowed to participate in the community classes offered. Some are offered every week, such as the self-directed Botanical Drawing and Painting class every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Plants, flowers, and seeds are provided. There are garden meditation sessions every first Sunday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (reservation required).
Upcoming limited events include a Frog and Garden Critter Art Exhibit on Nov. 26 that features three-dimensional artwork made out of recycled materials, and there is the Holiday Ornaments from Natural and Recycled Materials on Dec. 2 (reservation required), where dried plant materials, shells, and recycled items will be provided to make holiday ornaments.
Every month, there is a new theme for the art exhibit. Located next to the Visitor’s Center, its hours are the same as the rest of the garden and features anything from landscape paintings to animal photography.
Bicycles are allowed but only on designated roads and paved parking areas. Pets are not allowed as well as any ball playing (sports). Loud speakers are not allowed anywhere in the park.
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is located at 45-680 Luluku Road, about a mile south of the Likelike Highway (Route 63) merger. Students can arrive by bus by taking the Route 55 bus (which runs along all of Kamehameha Highway on the windward side of Oahu) to the Kam. Hwy + Luluku Rd stop at the Windward City Shopping Center. The bus ride is approximately an hour and 15 minutes, according to Google Transit. From there, walk south for about two minutes to Luluku Rd. and turn right. Then walk approximately 20 minutes to the park entrance.
The park is open every day of the year from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. For group scheduling or information on events or permits, call the Visitor’s Center at 808-233-7323. Visit the Department of Parks and Recreation website for details on all five botanical garden sites on the island at honolulu.gov/parks/hbg.
NOTE: This story is featured in the Sept. 2017 print issue.