Day 7 - Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden - October 23, 2012
It was our last day but one of the best days. Our friends are also into gardening. They had been to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo on a previous trip and highly recommended it. We were looking forward to visiting it with them since we both love plants.
We took the top road from Kona to Hilo through Waimea. The surrounding became more and more tropical as we approached the coast. The Hilo side of the island is the rainy side and you can definitely tell by the plants. After reaching the coast, the road traveled along the ocean side winding down into the valleys where we ooh'd and awe'd about the plants. It took about 2 hours before we arrived at the garden.
We brought along our lunch and ate next to the gift store where it was sheltered. It was a light rain, humid but not too hot. We grabbed a couple of umbrellas, paid our entrance fee and crossed over the road to the entrance.
The website says it is "Garden in a Valley on the Ocean". The path meanders down a steep valley lined with tropical plants. It focuses on ginger but I recognized many of the plants as plants you see as house plants. Large philodendrons, staghorn ferns, elephant ear plants, crotons, diffenbachia, umbrella plants, and many palms. It was like walking in a conservatory but without the glass.
The path levels off and there are many different areas to explore. A lovely stream lined with palms, an orchid garden with an exciting cannonball tree nearby, macaws, and finally a view to the ocean.
Unfortunately, you do have to climb back up to the road. We took our time and since the day was not as warm, the climb was enjoyable. They do have a small golf cart that will help people back up to the road - for a nominal fee of course.
We started back but first we stopped at What's Shakin' for a smoothie. I had a delicious papaya, orange guava smoothie with passion fruit. They also had some beautiful ripe fruit for sale. I got a papaya for our last day. It was also the one place where we saw the dragonfruit cactus growing. They also had some good looking food. One thing to keep in mind, the smoothie is pure fruit and it is a long drive back.
We made one more stop along the way at the overlook to Waip'o Valley. It you have a 4-wheel drive you can make the steep drive down into the valley or you can pay for the shuttle. We were fine with the view.
The day and our vacation was coming to a close. The sun was golden over the ocean as we dropped down to our condo. We did a fast pack and then headed over to join our friends for a pizza. An enjoyable week in Hawaii.