If you are visiting Big Island for the first time, or if you have been here before but never ventured out to the Eastside, this is a good reason to do so. One of the most popular attractions, the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden, has reopened to visitors after being closed for almost a year.
The Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden attracts photographers, gardeners, scientists, and nature lovers from around the world. It offers over a mile of trails lined with thousands of rare and endangered flora from all parts of the globe. It is a magical place where paths and bridges guide you over mountain-fed streams and waterfalls into awe-inspiring views of Onomea Bay along the beautiful Hamakua Coast.
The bioreserve contains over 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera. The 20-acre valley is a natural greenhouse, protected from buffeting trade winds and blessed with fertile volcanic soil. Throughout this garden valley, nature trails meander through a true tropical rain forest, crossing bubbling streams, passing several beautiful waterfalls, and curving around the exciting ocean vistas along the rugged Pacific coast.
No matter what part of the island you are coming from, we encourage you to take the Scenic Route (Old Mamalahoa Rd.). You will see the blue sign pointing you to turn left not far before reaching Hilo (if coming from the North). Sometimes, GPS will misdirect you down a dirt road (Old Onomea Rd.) While this route will get you there, it is not recommended since the Scenic Route is easier and much, much prettier, too.
Following the route, you will have a chance to see the real wild tropical forest, which is much different from the man-made landscaping that you see in the resorts. Huge trees lining up along the narrow road, primeval-looking plants with giant leaves and vines hanging from them, and other lush vegetation thrive in a wild, natural environment.
The Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden is a whole different cup of tea, though. Situated in a beautiful Onamea Valley, it has a wealth of exotic plants and flowers which you likely have never seen before in your life. You can spend hours walking the trails and looking at amazing Lobster Claws, rare kinds of orchids, and huge bromeliads. They even have a cannon-ball tree, which was brought from India, and the black bat flower (Tacca chantrieri), which is in bloom right now and is quite a rare sight. Make sure to bring your camera with you to capture all this amazing beauty.
While the garden was closed, employees were able to improve some trails and take care of the area without the influence of visitors. The lack of people also allowed the garden to thrive, so now is a really good time to visit.
To alleviate any potential spread of COVID-19, the garden has changed some policies and its hours. Masks are required throughout the property, and temperatures will be checked before entry.
The visitor center will remain closed. Ticket purchase is available at the Garden, at $25 for adults and $12 for children (6-16).
The garden also is temporarily unable to grant entry to those who require mobility aids such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and other forms of boardwalk assistance.
The garden will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more about the Garden and how to get there, click here.
Don’t miss seeing this magical place!
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We hope to see you soon – a hui hou!
Images courtesy of Inoptia.