No visit to the eastern side of the Big Island would be complete without a stop at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. The garden is about 40 acres and set in a big ravine stretching down to the ocean. You park at the top and make your way down the paved path toward Onomea Bay. There are over 2000 species, including orchids on nearly every tree! I have never seen so many blooming orchids. Every time I looked up, there were more and different kinds!
The area was completely stripped of the natural vegetation by early settlers, but after the sugar mill closed down in the late 1800s the jungle took back over. When the Lutkenhouse family bought the land it was a dense, overgrown jungle. They slowly transformed the land into a natural garden filled with native Hawaii plants as well as exotic plants from around the world.
We walked past the Onomea waterfalls, through the Heliconia Trail and Orchid Garden, and made our way to the view point overlooking the crashing waves in Onomea Bay. The trek out was a bit steep, but we took our time, enjoying all the various flowers and plants along the way. Whether you are a flower-enthusiast or just looking for a peaceful place to stretch your legs, I highly recommend a visit to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden!