• Spencer Lowe

5 Botanical Gardens In Oahu So Relaxing You’ll Never Wanna Leaf

Given the Island’s naturally beautiful foliage, visiting the botanical gardens on Oahu might seem a bit redundant--sort of like going to the zoo in Australia.

Like, just walk outside… 🚶🏼‍♂️🌲🌺🌵

But we here at Shaka Guide can assure you that Hawaii’s botanical gardens are absolutely worth the trip. In this article, we’ll give you everything you need to tour the botanical gardens on Oahu!

The University of Hawaii at Manoa Botanical Gardens

Ease of Access: Extremely easy and accessible for all

Location/Address: The entire Unversity of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Check signs carefully to know if parking passes are required in a specific lot.

Shaka Guide Tour: Manoa Tantalus Tour (Coming Soon!)

Best Times To Visit: Spring for the blooms

Cost: No cost depending on where you park. If you drive past a certain point on East-West street, there’s a Campus toll booth.

How long will they spend there: You can do all of the gardens in two hours, according to the official tour.

Much of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s campus is actually considered a botanical garden. The university’s botanical gardens even have an official tour route!

Anyone who has walked through the university’s campus probably isn’t too surprised to learn that the school is basically one giant botanical garden. In fact, each dot on this map represents a plant you may be interested in seeing!

Here’s our favorite garden on campus:

We’d particularly recommend checking out the Japanese garden just off of East-West street below Jefferson Hall. The area is absolutely beautiful and has plants you can’t see anywhere else on the island.

The university’s Japanese garden was designed by the famous architect Kenzo Ogata and has a coral shower tree planted by the current emperor of Japan when he was just a prince!

The University of Oahu also operates the Lyon Arboretum, which has many individual gardens inside. It's located in Manoa, not too far from campus. We recommend checking it out when you head back to Manoa to see the waterfalls!

RELATED POST: How To Find The 4 Best Waterfalls On Oahu

Waimea Valley Botanical Garden

Ease of Access: Easy paved hike

Location/Address: At the end of Waimea Valley Road, across from Waimea Bay. For google maps users: 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Shaka Guide Tour: Circle Island Tour

Best Times To Visit: Spring for the blooms. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Cost: $16.95 for nonresident adults. $8.95 for nonresident children. $12.95 for adult residents of Hawaii and military members. $6.00 for their children. Additional $4.00 discount for seniors and students with ID.

How long will they spend there: At least a couple of hours, but there is a lot more to see.

The Waimea Valley Botanical Garden is home to 36 botanical gardens and collections. Each one has its own theme such as the ethnobotany collection which features plants used in Hawaiian culture as food, medicine, tools, and even weapons.

There is so much to see here.

Across these 36 gardens and collections, there are over 5000 different species of plants. Many of these plants are native to Hawaii and endangered. A select few species are found nowhere else in the world besides the Waimea Valley thanks to the staff’s commitment to acquiring and preserving endangered species.

Foster Botanical Garden

Ease of Access: Very easy and accessible, paved walk.

Location/Address: Downtown Honolulu at 180 N. Vineyard Blvd. Honolulu, HI 96817

Shaka Guide Tour: Circle Island

Best Times To Visit: Spring for the blooms. 9:00 am - 4:00 pm every day except Christmas and New Years Day.

Cost: Adults: $5, Hawaii Residents: $3, Children 6-12: $1, Children under 5: Free, Annual Family Pass: $25

How long will they spend there: Approximately two hours.

This 14-acre Honolulu botanical garden can be found right downtown just outside of Chinatown--neat! If you need a break from the city without going too far, this Honolulu botanical garden is the spot for you.

Some of Foster Garden’s plants have been there since the 1850's when Dr. William Hillebrand first started the garden and thus the entire Honolulu Botanical Gardens system. Foster Garden now includes a conservatory, an outdoor butterfly garden, a palm garden, and a prehistoric Glen Cycad Collection.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Ease of Access: Varies

Location/Address: 45-680 Luluku Rd. Kāneʻohe, Hawaiʻi 96744

Shaka Guide Tour: Circle Island Tour

Best Times To Visit: Spring for the blooms. 9:00 am - 4:00 pm every day except Christmas and New Years Day.

Cost: Free!

How long will they spend there: Varies depending on activity.

Ho’omaluhia is a really impressive 400-acre botanical garden in Kaneohe. It has several different groupings of tropical plants from different parts of the world including the Philippines, Africa, Malaysia, tropical America, India, Melanesia, and more. You can identify them with this map.

There’s also a ton of fun stuff to do at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden.

There is free fishing on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, equipment included. Wednesday there is plant and scenery painting.

This is also a great place to camp from Friday to Monday. You can reserve a campsite here. The mountains, lake, and plants make this one of our favorite camping spots on Oahu. The birdwatching at Ho’omaluhia is excellent, too. 🐦🐤(🐓)👀

The Honolulu Botanical Garden System

All in all , the Honolulu Botanical Gardens System consists of five botanical Gardens spread across the island of Oahu. The system includes Fosters and Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, as well as Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, and Wahiawā Botanical Garden.

And each garden is wonderfully unique.

From the cacti inside Koko Crater to the favored picnicking grounds of Hawaii’s last queen at Liliʻuokalani Botanical Gardens, each of these attractions brings something beautiful and unique to Oahu’s botanical garden scene.

Final Thoughts on Oahu’s Botanical Gardens

There is more to see at these gardens than you feasibly could in one trip. If you live on the island or are going to be here a while, these gardens are awesome attractions to visit repeatedly.

Furthermore, they are always open, so you never have an excuse to be bored on Oahu! You’re sure to learn something new and see something beautiful every single time you visit one of Oahu’s Botanical Gardens.

And don’t forget:

If you have any friends or family that love botany, don’t forget to share so they can take advantage of Oahu's amazing collection of gardens.