Five hundred thousand years ago, a massive landslide swept half of a volcano into the Pacific Ocean. Half a million years of rain and wind erosion, along with numerous eruptions, shaped the windward landscape of Oahu and what we know as the Ko’Olau Mountain range. These eruptions formed natural landmarks like Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Koko Head, and Punchbowl craters.
Search any hashtag relating to hiking trails on Oahu and the majority you discover will showcase views from many of the majestic hikes along the Ko’Olau range- Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven), Tom Tom Trail, Koko Head lookout, and Olomana. Driving less than 30 minutes from Waikiki’s tourist bustle will have you in lush, green valleys. This lure of urban escape inspires local and traveling adventurers daily, promising amazing, unspoiled views of evergreen valleys and azure seas.
If you’re visiting Oahu and packed only a bathing suit, slippahs, sunnies, a floppy hat, and a sundress, you’ll probably not ready for a summit hike requiring sturdy hiking boots, long socks, wet weather wear, and probably a bandage or two. No worries though! Rather then hiking Ko’Olau, you can visit one of its most beautiful base locations at Kaneohe’s Ho’Omaluhia Botanical Garden.
One of Oahu’s five botanical gardens , the 400-acre garden is filled with trees and shrubs from rainforest around the world. You’ll discover the trees which give us açaí bowls, rubber glue, the dye used in your lipstick, the leaves for Panama hats, and many other plants which have been vital for humans.
Ho’Omaluhia means “to make a place of peace and tranquility.” That is absolutely what you will find while exploring the different trails here. With Ko’Olau as a backdrop, prepare to be awed as clouds sweep across the mountains as you sit in a lush landscape designed for natural exploration and family fun. Facilities here include areas for picnics, camping, meeting rooms, and even an art space. Due to frequent rain showers on the Windward (Eastern) side of Oahu, even on a clear day you’ll want to bring rain gear and insect repellant. If Oahu has been experiencing heavy rain showers, you may be in luck and see waterfalls running down the Ko’Olau mountain range from here (absolutely mesmerizing experience!).
Ho’Omaluhia Garden is open daily from 0900-1600. You can camp here from 0900 Friday until 1600 Monday with a proper permit. The entrance gate is where you’ll see popular Instagram post from, but the garden has IG-worthy photo locations throughout. Take an afternoon away from it all and visit Oahu’s beautiful rainforest garden, Ho’Omaluhia.
Click the Slideshow below to see more photographs from Ho’Omaluhia Garden.