The plantation and gardens guided nature walk is now given in an eco-tour style with emphasis on touching and smelling the bushes, nuts, fruits, trees and flowers along the way. Our tour guide, Joan, was very knowledgeable, showing our small group of four the flora, their names, medicinal purposes, and interesting facts. For example, the Traveler’s Tree stems' casings hold rainwater providing an emergency drinking supply. Also, its’ fan shaped leaves grow in an east-west line which travelers can use as a compass. There are so many different species of plants that I thank Patsy Fong for helping to identify them in our photographs.
The flourishing gardens are lovely and reminded me of an enchanted forest. With all of the surrounding natural beauty it is easy to understand why people have special events on the grounds. We had numerous photo opportunities, particularly on a plateau overlooking the ocean. The orchards were well maintained and our guide picked fresh, delicious lychees for us to eat during the tour.
I would have liked to have bought some lychees, postcards and a souvenir, but the fruit stands, drink concessions and gift shop are permanently closed. Tours are no longer offered on Saturday. Cash is the ONLY form of payment accepted for the nature walks and lei making instruction.
Lei making class is still offered every day, except Christmas and New Years. There is plenty of free parking in front of the open-air visitor’s center and bathrooms are located inside.
We felt the price of $14.50, per adult, was well spent considering the money goes to perpetuate this once royal, still pristine land as part of Hawaiian history and heritage. Inspired by the dazzling gardens and plantation during an easy, 90 minute hike of one mile, we had a great time.