Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

Botanical Brilliance in Hawaii

Kauai's beachside garden tempts with flora, fauna, and a tree house.

bronze statue overlooks Ka'ula Lagoon and Hula Island in Hawaii, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Dennis Frates/Alamy
Photo caption
A bronze statue overlooks Ka'ula Lagoon and Hula Island.

It should come as no surprise that the Hawaiian Islands are home to many botanical gardens and arboretums. Kauai, the Garden Isle, has half a dozen, including 240-plus-acre Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. Former California ranchers Joyce and Ed Doty, who moved to Kauai in 1982, created the sprawling spectacle, starting from a simple landscaping project.

Today the property comprises a spread with 13 themed gardens, a plantation of 60,000 hardwood trees, a white sand beach, trails upon trails, and an impressive collection of bronze sculptures. The large-scale works range from whimsical (frisky piglets bathing in a tub) to workaday (a horse and mule pulling a stagecoach). A small lagoon stocked with koi can be admired from the Japanese teahouse that overlooks a cascading waterfall. There's even an English hedge maze to wander.

Kids get their own garden, presided over by a 16-foot-tall Jack and the Beanstalk sculpture. The area includes bridges, tunnels, slides, a pint-size train, and a tree house inspired by the novel The Swiss Family Robinson.

To explore the gardens, you must make a reservation and join a guided tour, on foot or by cart, which can take anywhere from 90 minutes to five hours. But given how much there is to see here, even a whole day might not be enough.

This article was first published in November 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.