If you’re in the mood for a mental and physical getaway, take a serene safari through some of nature’s most beautiful and lush plant life; stop on by National Tropical Botanical Garden; (NTBG) in Kauai, Hawaii. One simple stroll and you’ll be reeling at how awesome natural beauty and wonder truly is. And we’re not talking about your typical “garden-variety” stroll; we’re talking about an amazing sensory experience filled with wondrous beauty and sights. With a visitor rate of almost 1,500 per day, NTBG takes pride in many things: increasing the public’s awareness of the fragile state of ecosystems & plant populations; educating people on the importance of plants to human life; and showing off the sheer beauty of some of life’s most simple-seeming yet complex forms: plants and flowers. The amazing 2,000-acre site in Kauai is rife with other things to learn as well as sites to see, exhibitions to visit, and classes to take, too! Read on for information on what’s what at NTBG & get ready to book your tickets to luau-land! The classes one can enroll in at NTBG are fascinating. Children can learn everything from identifying, documenting, understanding, and conserving tropical plants and their habitats; adults can take university/graduate-level courses on cultural knowledge, horticulture & botany. There are even classes designed for grade school, high school and college science teachers! Other major attractions at NTBG? The Breadfruit Institute is a big one; it aims to educate people on the use of the Breadfruit on the islands for food and reforestation. Additional must-see exhibits are the Preserves. “Preserve” means “a refuge for nature;” which, in turn, means creating a safe haven for species threatened by invasive plants, animals or humans (i.e. real estate development). Preserves receive intervention by NTBG staff to improve their habitats. Staffers work to restore those ecologies that sustain or preserve plant communities. Don’t miss further attractions at NTBG’s sister bases in Hana Maui, Kauai, Hawaii’s Big Island as well as Florida. You’ll witness things like The Kampong Southeast Garden of Tranquility, and the Kahanu Garden on Maui’s Eastshore. Don’t leave NTBG just yet though; first, take a look at the Top Five Things to See at NTSB, which is based on visitors’ comments & reviews and information from tourism and travel sites & brochures.
1. McBryde Garden Southshore Kauai
Nestled between rugged cliffs dropping down to a drastic luxuriant valley floor, the McBryde Garden is something you simply cannot describe using words. The beauty is immeasurable. You’ll see native and exotic plants, which are worshipped by locals for their beauty, plus you’ll get to see rare and endangered Hawaiian species and learn about the efforts local scientists & botanists are making to save them. On the other hand, take a trip back in time to ancient Hawai’i in the Canoe Garden, which has an ever-changing stream of beauty as it meanders toward & ends at the Pacific seashore.
2. Limahulu Garden & Preserve
An iconic mix of history, modern times & true beauty, Limahulu is set in a fertile tropical valley on the north shore of Kauai, Limahulu Preserve’s backdrop is the majestic Makana Mountain; there’s also Pacific Ocean views from nearly every direction. The Garden was recently selected by the American Horticultural Society as the Number One Best Natural Botanical Garden in the United States. The Preserve is a sight itself and is dedicated to restoration of species native to the habitat. Visit both and you’ll see lush tropical valleys containing a pristine Hawaiian stream with an 800-foot waterfall! The area is surrounded on three sides by steep ridges climbing 2,000 feet high. Within the spectacular setting are three different ecological zones & tons of ancient Hawaiian archaeological sites and symbols.
3. Botanical Research Center
One of the most successful and interesting research facilities in the nation, the BRC was completed early in 2008 and has over 22,000 feet of projects by horticulturists, botanists and more research scientists. A truly unbelievable sight, visitors are invited to come in and ask questions while the workers develop horticultural practices to care for these prized collections. They also propagate at-risk plant species and ensure that the living collections in all of the gardens have proper curation and interpretation. Hundreds of thousands patronize the center throughout the year.
4. Allerton Garden
One of the most amazing gardens in existence hands-down, is one filled with natural resources and wonderous beauty. Set along the Pacific Ocean on the south side of Kauai, Allerton Garden is a true paradise. Transformed through time by the hands of a Hawaiian Queen, a sugar plantation magnate, and an artist and architect, the limitless possibilities found in its dramatic topography led to the creation of this real garden masterpiece. It’s obvious the focus in this place is the art of landscape design, but one cannot escape the towering rainforest trees, the stunning water designs in miniature waterfalls and flowing fountains, the golden Bamboo grove, the flower garden and the abundance of tropical fruit trees ripe for the picking at all times. You simply cannot miss this attraction on the Kauai campus.
5. Featured Plant: Yesterday-Today-And-Tomorrow
Seen throughout the entire year, the amazing flowering plant is named as such for it’s changing colors! It varies and will emerge as deep violet the first day, then turn lavender the second, and finally turn white on the third day. After that, it drops to the ground! How cool is that? A must-see-to-believe for sure!
National Tropical Botanical Gardens
3530 Papalina Road
Kalaheo, HI 96741-9599