Your Destination Guide to Maui

Destination Guide Maui - Your Destination Guide to Maui, HI

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The Gardens of Maui

The Gardens of Maui
The Gardens of Maui

© Josh Berglund

Maui's gardens possess a beauty akin to nothing else this world offers. Fields of violet, crimson and gold flora look out over a bright and vast pacific. Tropical treetops surrounded by mountain mist sit bordered by Haleakala volcano and the central Maui Mountains. Butterflies delicately rest their wings as the scents of lavender, guava, and blue sage mingle with the island breeze. For plant-lovers, these spots could rival the Garden of Eden.

Kula Botanical Gardens

Gracing the bottom slopes of Haleakala, Kula Botanical Gardens is a peaceful place to visit after a morning spent atop the volcano. Originally started as a display garden for a landscape architecture business in 1968, the botanical gardens now cover eight acres and draw thousands of guests a year. Hundreds of plant varieties exist in this little ecosystem, including several native to the Hawaiian Islands. Paved pathways lead you through the flourishing grounds containing blooming proteas of different sizes and shades, banana trees and orchids. All of the plants are labeled with their place of inception, botanical name and common name. Along the way, you will encounter a Koi pond, Nene geese, African Cranes, and a chameleon exhibit. Waterfalls, a "Tunnel of Love" made from tree branches and roots, a covered bridge, rock formations, and carved hedges dotted with flowers make you feel as if you've fallen into Wonderland. A gift shop overlooking the ocean features snacks, Maui-made souvenirs and garden-related items.

Tropical Gardens of Maui

Covering four acres at the entrance of Iao Valley on Maui's north side, the Tropical Gardens of Maui show off an exquisite display of exotic plants from all over the world. Because of its altitude and location in the valley, the site actually has its own "micro-climate." This allows the garden to grow exotic plants from all over the world, including: Hawaii, Madagascar, Indonesia's rainforests, Brazil, Australia, Cuba and the southwestern American desert. While wandering among the numerous pathways that weave throughout the gardens, keep your eye out for some unusual species. The Grammatophyllum speciosum--also known as the Giant Orchid--is the largest orchid variety in the world, growing thousands of flowers. Amherstia nobilis, with its elegant crimson flowers, is known to be one of the most beautiful trees in the world. The Raphia palm is hard to miss, possessing leaves up to 60 feet in length. If you have a weak nose, check out the Amorphophallus titanum flower. It can reach over 6 feet at full height, and is known for its foul smell. When you tire of walking, take a rest in the intricate white-pillared gazebo, hidden at the end of a small stone pathway. On your way out, stop by the nursery, where you can purchase some of the unusual plants from their gardens.

Garden of Eden Arboretum

Driving the famous road to Hana, you will come across the perfect rest stop: the Garden of Eden Arboretum. Originally envisioned by landscape designer Alan Bradbury, the grounds encompass 26 acres between the towns of Kailua and Kaenae on Maui's north shore. Meander through the gardens on one of the numerous paths weaving throughout the extensive property, which lead you past more than 500 different plant species, indigenous and exotic, all labeled with their names and place of origin. The garden boasts a banana patch, "enchanted forest," fruit orchard, 100-year old mango tree and the largest collection of Ti plants in all of Hawaii. Brilliant blue peacocks, ducks and chickens will make your acquaintance as you tour the grounds. If you bring lunch, enjoy a peaceful picnic at one of the many tables located throughout the gardens. As an added bonus, you are granted stunning views of the Pacific just beyond the many trees, flowers and shrubs. You may even recognize the Arboretum's spectacular shoreline, featured in the opening of Jurassic Park.

Enchanting Floral Gardens

The Enchanting Floral Gardens in Kula will hypnotize both your nose and eyes. Your sense of smell will be pleasantly provoked by the aromas of eight acres of fruits and flowers, while the brilliant colors of the gardens—bright yellows, reds and purples—look out over the Pacific from 2,500 feet in elevation. Almost every inch of land is covered by blooming fruits and flowers. The Floral Gardens pride themselves on their large collection of flowers—hibiscus, orchids and proteas are among the many that decorate the property. In the botanical garden, you will find star fruit, pineapple, papaya, guava, mango, and Kona coffee. A few small but peaceful gazebos reside on the property for when you tire of the island sun. One, aptly named the Stairway to Heaven, sits amid hundreds of bright flowers and overlooks the ocean and West Maui Mountains. If you're still searching for shade, a blooming archway made up of Orange trumpet vines frames the water in the distance.

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

Driving up the Haleakala hillside, you can smell the lavender farm before you see it. Forty-five different varieties of the plant blanket over 10.5 acres, permeating the cool breeze with their wonderfully invigorating scent. The farm is the work of agricultural artist Ali'i Chang, easily found on any given day caring for his 55,000 lavender plants. The farm's elevation, at 4,000 feet, not only gives the sunny fields a stunning view of the ocean, but the ability to bloom year-round. Other plants include olive trees, hydrangea and protea. Have lavender tea and scones with friends on the farm's spacious porch before heading on a guided tour of the property. You can even purchase a lunch basket with food flavored with lavender. Before you leave, be sure to stop by the gift shop. Ali'i Farm uses its lavender to make numerous items including shampoo, lotion, chocolate, jelly, and even dog biscuits. With a few delightfully-smelling souvenirs, you will always remember your visit.

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