Free and fun things to do on Oahu

Free and fun things to do on Oahu… Yes, believe it or not, one of the greatest Free and fun things to do on Oahu is… wait for it!… the botanical gardens. They are one of the best kept jewels on the island, there are a few locations and most of them are free.

So after you take a surf lesson with us at Oahu Surfing Experience relax and unwind in one of these fabulous, well-kept gardens.

Each individual botanical garden is maintained with lush, indigenous flora, as well as unique plants and trees from across the globe.You should make an effort to see such beauty. The gardens are all different just like us.

Foster Botanical Garden

Foster Botanical Garden measuring 13.5 acres (5.5 ha), is one of five public botanical gardens on Oahu. It is located at 50 North Vineyard Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, near Chinatown at the intersection of Nu’uanu Avenue and Vineyard Boulevard. Foster is in a highly urban area with strip malls, schools, and both Buddhist and Methodist religious facilities nearby.The Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Hawaii, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1853, Queen Kalama leased 4.6 acres (1.9 ha) of land to William Hillebrand, a German physician and botanist who built his home and planted trees on the site. During his stay, he introduced a number of plants to Hawaii, as well as deer and mynah birds. Many of the large trees growing today on the Upper Terrace were Hillebrand’s plantings. After 20 years Hillebrand returned to Germany, where he published Flora of the Hawaiian Islands in 1888. In 1884 the property was sold to Thomas R. Foster and his wife Mary E. Foster (née Robinson), who continued to develop the garden as their homesite. Upon her death in 1930, Mary Foster bequeathed the land and her home to the City and County of Honolulu, with the provision that the city accept and forever keep and properly maintain the (gardens) as a public and tropical park to be known and called Foster Park. At the time, the gardens were roughly 5.5 acres (2.2 ha).[3]

Dr. Harold Lyon, the first director of Foster Garden, introduced thousands of new plants and trees to Hawaii, and started its famous orchid collection. Paul Weissich, director from 1957 to 1989, expanded Foster Garden to 14 acres (5.7 ha) of native plants, and developed four additional sites on Oahu Island to create the 650 acres (260 ha) Honolulu Botanical Gardens system. Taken as a whole, these five gardens feature rare species from tropical environments ranging from desert to rainforest, comprising the largest and most diverse tropical plant collection in the United States.[3]

The Garden is the inspiration for a line in Joni Mitchell‘s 1970 folk song “Big Yellow Taxi“: “Took all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum / Then charge people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em.”.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Admission is free Hours: Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm Closed on Christmas Day (December 25) and New Year’s Day (January 1)

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden Overview

  • Lush botanical garden in Kaneohe, with beautiful views to the Ko’olau Mountains and tropical scenery
  • Good place for a stroll in nature and for picture-taking
  • Camping is permitted from 9 am on Fridays through 4 pm on Mondays (permit required)
  • Guided nature walks available (register in advance)

Guided hikes are offered at 10 am on Saturdays and at 1 pm on Sundays (call 808-233-7323 to register). Camping is allowed from 9 am Friday through 4 pm Monday. Camping permits are issued via the City and County of Honolulu online camping permit system (visit Permits must be validated at the Ho’omaluhia Visitor Center.

Situated on lush 400 acres (1.6 km²) in Kaneohe, at the foot of the majestic Ko’olau Mountain Range, the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a peaceful park that is home to hundreds of plant species, divided into geographical regions as diverse as the Philippines, Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Tropical America, Polynesia, Melanesia and Hawaii.

The garden was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood protection for Kaneohe, and the facilities now include a day use area, campground and a center with a lecture room, exhibition hall, workshop and botanical library.

Head first to the visitors center, where you’ll find information on guided tours (every weekend), special events and ethnic exhibits. Ho’omaluhia means “to make a place of peace and tranquillity” in the Hawaiian language. To get a real grasp of the incredible diversity of the flora at Ho’omaluhia, inquire about the nature walks, hiking, crafts and cloud-watching activities on offer, or just while away a quiet afternoon by the 32-acre (0.13 km²) lake (swimming is not permitted in the lake due to water impurities). When you feel like a stroll, take one of the meandering trails past the lake and streams, over footbridges and alongside verdant meadows, where an endless array of flowers, fruits, bushes, vines and trees await the photographer, naturalist or curious botanist.

Kapiolani Community College Cactus Garden

The Kapiʻolani Community College Cactus Garden is a small botanical garden specializing in cactus. It is located on the Kapiʻolani Community College campus, near Parking Lot C, at 4303 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The garden was created by Moriso Teraoka in 1988.[1]

Koko Crater Botanical Garden

Koko Crater Botanic Garden is a 1.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Honolulu, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.Challenging trail not for the feint of heart. It has many narrow segments, steep climbs and steep drop-offs. Not to mention no shade. Be sure to bring lots of water, wear pants and gloves would be helpful too.

Koko Crater is a remnant tuff cone on the south east side of Oahu. Within the crater houses the Koko Crater Botanical Gardens. On the outside south flank of the crater is the highest point accessible via an old abandoned rail line. This rail line trail is very popular and crowded. The rim trail on the other hand is less traversed and fit only for those who are not afraid of heights. The views from here span the south shores from Sandy Beach to Makapuu Wayside’s Pele’s Chair.

It also provide good views of the Koolau Mountains. On a clear day you can see the towers on Kamehame Ridge, all the way to Pu’u O Kona.

Free parking, No facilities, so bring water sunscreen and mosqito repellent and use the bathroom before you get there. Liliuokalani Botanical Garden. Just north of Foster Botanical Garden is Liliuokalani Botanical Garden. This is the smallest of the five Honolulu botanical gardens and this garden was once owned by Hawaii’s last reigning Monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. This was her favorite picnic spot on the island. Queen Liliuokalani bequeathed this beautiful garden to Honolulu to be used for public enjoyment.

This garden has beautiful picnic areas to be enjoyed by the visitors. There is a lovely stream named nu’uana stream as well as Waikahalulu waterfall. Being surrounded by the serenity of this waterfall and the natural Hawaiian flora makes this a fantastic spot to sit and reflect. This is the only garden of the five botanical gardens to feature only native Hawaiian plants.

Located: North Kuakini Street, Honolulu, Hawaii. 96817, Phone: (808) 522-7060 , Directions: Located between North Kuakini and school street, north of Foster Botanical Garden, in Downtown Honolulu.

Trails in the Lyon Arboretum: It takes about an hour to hike round trip from the parking lot to the Bromeliad Garden and Inspiration Point. Visitors can also hike to Aihualama Falls by hiking from the parking lot to the end of Lyon Arboretum road, then taking the footpath on the left. The round trip hike to the falls is about 1.5 miles. The trail head to Manoa Falls, which is not on the Lyon Arboretum grounds, is located just outside of the entrance to the Lyon Arboretum.

History of the Lyon Arboretum

  • The Hawaii Sugar Planters Association purchased the arboretum land in 1918 as part of a reforesting project.
  • In 1953 the land was acquired by the University of Hawaii and it was used to propagate ginger, heliconia, bromeliads, and aroids.
  • The Lyon Arboretum was founded in 1972 as a research unit of the University of Hawaii, College of Natural Sciences. It is used by faculty, staff, and visiting scientists to study tropical plant life with a special emphasis on native Hawaiian plants. It was named after botanist Dr. Harold L. Lyon who I believe granted the lands to the University of Hawaii for use as an arboretum and botanical garden only.
  • The arboretum was closed for a few months in 2004 to repair some of its deteriorating and possibly dangerous trails.
  • Parts of the arboretum were closed in 2006 and 2007 during a major $3 million renovation and repair project. That project was completed in mid-2008 and the Lyon Arboretum was opened to the public again on June 14, 2008.

Lyon Arboretum and Botanical Garden LOCATED :University of Hawaii at Manoa, 3860 Manoa Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, Phone: 808-988-0456 | Fax: 808-988-0462

Web Site: – Lyon Arboretum

The Garden’s site began in the 1920s, when the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association leased land from the State of Hawaiʻi for experimental tree planting. Most of the Garden’s large trees date from that era. The property was transferred to Honolulu in 1950, and opened as a botanical garden in 1957. It is open seven days a week, from 9am to 4 pm.

The garden now contains 35 distinct collections, representing some 5,000 taxa from around the world.[1] It contains one of the finest collections of Polynesian plants in existence, as well as excellent collections of very rare Hawaiian plants, rare and endangered species native to Lord Howe Island, and individual gardens dedicated to plants from Guam, Madagascar, the Mascarene Islands, the Ogasawara Islands, and the Seychelles. Other major collections include the hibiscus evolutionary garden, araceae, bauhinia, bromeliaceae, heliconia, liliaceae, as well as bamboo, begonia, ferns, tropical fruit, etc. The garden valley is approximate 0.75 miles in length, with a small waterfall and swimming hole at the valley’s high end.

Their moon walks are great and they are only $10 April 8 may 6 June 8, July 6, August 5, September 3, October 1 .Buffet dinner at the restaurant The Proud Peacock $29.95 adults and 12.95 child 4-12 dinner reservations at

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