Are you looking for for a guide to Koko Crater Botanical Garden? This guide from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know!
Nestled within Hawaii’s famed Koko Crater lies the Koko Crater Botanical Garden. Most people – locals included – have no clue that this hidden gem of nature lies just under their noses! Find out everything you need to know about visiting this stunning botanical garden on Oahu.
Where Is Koko Crater Botanical Garden?
I’m sure you’ve heard of Koko Crater, because it is the home of the esteemed 1,000-step Koko Head hike on Oahu. But you don’t have to do that brutal Oahu hike to experience Koko Head, because, as the name implies, the Koko Crater Botanical Garden is actually located within Koko Crater!
There is a designated dirt parking area located at Koko Crater Botanical Garden. As you make your way to the garden, you’ll have to pass a chained gate. This is simply to keep unauthorized cars from driving onto the property, not to keep nice visitors from seeing the gorgeous plants.
When Should I Go to Koko Crater Botanical Garden?
The garden is open every day – with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – from sunrise to sunset. The preferred time of day to visit would be early morning, simply because the garden can get quite hot. However, the garden is amazing at all times of day.
As for the preferred time of year, one of the beautiful things about living in Hawaii is that nature is alive and thriving all year round. So while we do have more flowers blooming in the springtime, that doesn’t mean that you won’t catch anything in the fall.
What Should I Bring When I Visit?
Unless you plan on making it a short visit, Koko Crater Botanical Garden isn’t the kind of botanical garden that you can visit on a whim. You have to be prepared with a few different items.
I can’t stress this enough. BRING WATER. You may be thinking, “oh, I’m just going on a nice stroll through a botanical garden.” But let me be honest with you. It’s not a stroll, it’s a hike. (For context, the “hike” to Waimea Falls is easier.)
My point is bring lots of water, especially because shade is limited. And help out the environment by putting it in a reusable water bottle.
The path around Koko Crater Botanical Garden is not paved. It is a dusty dirt path covered with small white rocks to guide the way.
These little rocks actually make it harder to walk around without the proper footwear. So save yourself some trouble (and the possibility of twisted ankles) by putting on some athletic shoes. These Fila women’s hiking shoes have served me well (and here’s the men’s version, if you’re interested).
Hat & Sunglasses
I’m not usually a hat-and-sunglasses kind of gal. But it is quite dusty and quite hot, so hopefully these accessories will help out a bit.
I’ve already probably over-emphasized how sunny and hot Koko Crater Botanical Garden is, so it should come as no surprise to find reef-safe sunscreen on this list. You have to protect your skin from those UV rays after all!
Use the code BORDERS15 on the Little Hands Hawaii website to get 15% off your order!
A Bite to Eat
While it’s not necessary, it’s a good idea to bring something to eat during your visit to Koko Crater Botanical Garden. If you’re hiking the garden’s two-mile loop trail, pack a snack in your bag. And if you want to take things a little easier, you can enjoy a lunch amongst the blooming plumerias instead.
What Is There to Do There?
While there are quite a few things to do at Koko Crater Botanical Garden, it’s up to you to decide how long you want to spend there. It can be a 15-minute visit or a four-hour one. All you have to do is decide what you want to do!
Check Out the Plumeria Grove
The plumeria grove is my favorite part of the Koko Crater Botanical Garden. There are dozens of different types of plumeria trees, all compacted at the front section of the garden. And they come in an array from different colors – from white to yellow to orange to pink!
(As a matter of fact, there are so many brightly colored pink bundles, that I added this plumeria grove to my list of my favorite pink-colored places in Hawaii!)
You’ll inevitably find yourself taking dozens of pictures of these beautiful Hawaii flowers. It’s so wonderful that most of the time I’ll visit Koko Crater Botanical Garden JUST to see this section.
Basically, if you only take the time to see one section of the garden, this is the one that I recommend.
Hike the Two-Mile Loop
You might not have expected a full-on hiking trail in the middle of a botanical garden, but Koko Crater Botanical Garden certainly has one!
The two-mile loop around the rest of the gardens (not including the plumeria grove) is where you’ll get your exercise in, and also where you’ll be able to see glimpses of plants from all over the world. From a cactus garden to dryland palms to the plants of Africa and the flora of Hawaii, it’s kind of like a tour of the plants of the world – all within two miles!
If you do decide to do this two-mile loop, be sure to take a picture of the map that you see when you first walk into gardens. There are parts of the path between the sections that can sometimes be rather long and can make you feel like you’ve wandered off of the path, even if you haven’t. Taking a picture of the map will prevent that issue, as you will be mentally prepared for a section of trail without any specific plant area.
Munch on Some Lunch
Scattered around Koko Crater Botanical Garden are quite a few picnic tables. So grab some lunch (if you’re coming from Waikiki, Tucker & Bevvy is the place to grab picnic food) and enjoy it amidst the wonderful sights and sounds of nature.
Find the Picture-Perfect Family of Chickens
There is a picture-perfect family of chickens, complete with a rooster, a hen, and a bunch of little chicks, hanging out in the gardens! See if you can find them!
Are There Any Restaurants Near Koko Crater Botanical Garden?
After your time at Koko Crater Botanical Gardens, you’ll definitely want something to eat (unless, of course, you decided to have a picnic). After all, you’ll have used a ton of energy checking out all of the amazing plants!
If you’re looking for some nearby eateries, head to Koko Marina Center, where you can have a delicious meal at the Greek Marina or Kona Brewing Co. And top of your meal with a nice malasada from the Leonard’s Bakery food truck.
Have you ever visited any of Oahu’s stunning botanical gardens? Tell me about it in the comments!
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