Are you searching for the best botanical gardens on Oahu? This guide from an Oahu, Hawaii local has everything that you need to know.
Visitors to Oahu tend to have a love of nature, so it’s no surprise that the botanical gardens on Oahu are becoming beloved attractions. From stunning mountains to plants of the world and even a few animal visitors, these Oahu botanical gardens are prime little pockets of nature.
Even if you’re not typically a fan of botanical gardens, consider giving one Oahu’s botanical gardens a visit regardless! Perhaps the views of the Koolau mountain range or the friendly little ducks will change your mind. Here are six gorgeous botanical gardens on Oahu for you to visit.
Tips for Visiting the Botanical Gardens on Oahu
Use Bug Repellent
Bug repellent is highly recommended. The still water in the rainforest-like environments around the Oahu’s botanical gardens attracts a lot of bugs – especially mosquitos. And the bites from these little critters can last for weeks! There are both traditional and natural options to help you ward off the little critters.
Grab a Map
Nearly all of Oahu’s botanical gardens have either long paths or many paths (or both). Either way, a map comes in handy! If you don’t grab one, odds are you’ll miss a section filled with the island’s beautiful natural sights! But if you can’t find a paper map, there’s a good chance that there is a map somewhere that you can take a picture of. Then, you can reference the photo on your phone whenever you need more guidance.
Okay, I’m Ready! Tell Me About These Blooming Botanical Gardens on Oahu!
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
The Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is by far the most popular botanical garden on Oahu. You know all of those Instagram pictures of people standing on a wooden platform facing a lake with stunning green mountains in front of them? Or the ones where there is someone on a single-lane road with green plants growing on both sides and those same stunning green mountains in the background? That’s Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden.
But taking some pictures isn’t the only activity you can do at Oahu’s most famous botanical garden. There are many ducks and even a few swans that spend some time in and around the lake on the property. Bring a few slices of bread to feed them! Or, if you enjoy fishing, for a few hours every weekend, you can catch-and-release a few fish with the family! Lastly, if you want to spend as much time as possible at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, you can even do some camping for up to three nights in a row! In other words, there are tons of things to do at this Oahu botanical garden.
Wahiawa Botanical Garden
Wahiawa Botanical Garden is easily the most hidden botanical garden on this list, and it also happens to be one of my favorites. The town of Wahiawa in general does not garner much visitor attention, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something to see! Within the Wahiawa Botanical Garden, there are quite a few natural gems. Take a stroll on the metallic plants path, bask in the beauty of the heliconia garden, and gape in awe at the giant orchid! As an added bonus, all of the paths throughout the Wahiawa Botanical Garden are paved, unlike many of the other botanical gardens on Oahu. The vast majority of this particular botanical garden is also handicap accessible.
*Bonus: If you’re a fan of the supernatural and haunted, rumor has it that The Green Lady of Wahiawa roams these gardens. According to the stories, this green lady was a mother who was extremely afraid that a car would hit one of her children. To avoid even the slightest possibility of this problem, she and her family would trek across the gulch and through the forest. Unfortunately, one day, one of her children got lost in the woods, and the green lady died from grief. Today, the stories say she has become as green as the forest, still looking for her missing child.
Foster Botanical Garden
If you end of staying in Honolulu or Waikiki during your trip to Oahu, you might get a little caught up in the hustle and bustle of the hordes of people. Foster Botanical Garden can be a great break from all of that.
Located in the middle of Honolulu, Foster Botanical Garden is the island’s oldest botanical garden. Started in 1853 (over 100 years before Hawaii became a state!), this particular garden is actually home to some of Oahu’s oldest trees! It is also home to an amorphophallus titanum plant, also known as the corpse plant. This rare five-foot tall plant only blooms once every three to five years – and, as the name implies, it smells similar to a dead body. It’s a rare event that some people must see and others want to avoid at all costs.
*Note: there is a small entrance fee to visit Foster Botanical Garden.
Waimea Valley Arboretum and Botanical Garden
The beautiful Waimea Valley is home to tons of wonderful Oahu sites, including Waimea Falls, the Waimea Farmers Market, and the Waimea Valley Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
While many of the botanical gardens on Oahu show just about any plant that can thrive in Hawaii’s climate, Waimea Valley Arboretum and Botanical Garden chooses to showcase Hawaiian and Polynesian plants in particular. This garden especially makes a point of clearly labelling each and every plant on the property – so plant lovers and gardeners, here’s your chance to study up!
*Note: there is an entrance fee ($16 for adults with discounts for kamaaina and military) to visit Waimea Valley Arboretum and Botanical Garden. This entrance fee also grants you access to Waimea Falls.
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
Located within the famous Koko Crater (which is known for its challenging, 1,000-step hike), the Koko Crater Botanical Garden is a hidden gem. In my opinion, this may be the best botanical garden on Oahu. This garden has a two-mile loop filled with plants from all over the world – from the plants of Africa to the ones that make their home right here in Hawaii.
However, the most eye-catching part of the botanical garden is right at the entrance: the plumeria grove. Filled with dozens of different types of plumeria trees, this little piece of paradise is a must-see. While most plumerias are white with a bit of yellow, the plumerias at the Koko Crater Botanical Garden range from white to yellow to orange to pink! If you only take the time to see one section of the garden, this is the one that I recommend.
Located in Manoa Valley not too far from Manoa Falls is Lyon Arboretum. Within the arboretum there are several gardens, including the herb and spice garden, the Native Hawaiian Garden, and the Betty Ho Memorial Garden. There is also a small natural waterfall, Aihualama Falls, located on the property.
Looking for other amazing nature-centric activities to do on Oahu? Check out our eight Oahu waterfall hike recommendations!
Are there any other Oahu botanical gardens that you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments!
Want to visit one of these botanical gardens on Oahu on your next trip to the islands? Pin this post for later!