A Local’s Guide to Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i
Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Matt and Roxy Ortiz are a husband and wife art duo who collaborate under the name Wooden Wave. When they’re not working on a project or building their new home, you can find them exploring O‘ahu with their son Kai. Recently, we asked Matt and Roxy to help us write a short guide for visiting Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden, a lush 400-acre garden on the island. Here’s everything they think you should know.
“We love the way the Koʻolau Mountains rise out of the trees. This range is such an iconic part of the landscape of O‘ahu. It makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.”
When is your favorite time of year to experience Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden?
Ho‘omaluhia is on the windward side of the island and because of its close proximity to the mountains, it gets a lot of rainfall. If you’re looking to stay dry and have a picnic next to the lake, then summer is probably best. On the other hand, rain is part of what makes this place so special! The landscape is so lush and green. Also, there’s a chance you’ll see the Koʻolau mountains come alive with waterfalls if it rains heavily, which is stunning!
Sounds incredible. Would you recommend seeing the Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden on foot or by car?
Drive there and park in one of the lots. There are several to choose from for the different trails. It’s a mellow walk to any of the features, but it’s also nice to drive slowly through the whole garden before you leave. If you want to get some nostalgic chuckles from your passengers, whistle the soundtrack to Jurassic Park when you first drive past the entrance. But If you want to get the authentic audio experience, go slow and listen to some Hawaiian music. We recommend playing George Helm. His music and energy in the songs Kalamaʻula and Kamalani O Keaukaha complement the scenery beautifully.
We’ll add it to the playlist! How much time should we set aside for the full Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden experience?
Take your time! Keeping in mind the park opens at 9 AM and closes at 4 PM sharp, so set aside enough time to walk around the visitor center and rest by the lake. We’d recommend at least three hours.
Can you picnic in Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden? If so, what snacks are you packing?
Yes, you can, and we’re all about that picnic life! We generally make some sandwiches and cut up some fruit. Bring some kind of beach blanket as the grass might be a bit damp even if it’s sunny.
What should we wear to Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden?
It can be quite warm but pack a light jacket if it looks like rain. Otherwise, dress for comfort, wear a hat, and be ready for mosquitoes. Sandals are great for strolling, plus it’s nice to go barefoot in the grass while picnicking. If you’re ambitious and plan to walk all of the trails, then an athletic shoe would be recommended.
Ahh, we know the perfect place to find that footwear. Lastly, traveling with kuleana (respect) is always top of mind. What’s your advice to visitors?
Be mindful of the hours and signs about photography on the roads. There will be other visitors walking on the side of the road and it can be quite narrow, so drive slowly and stay off of your phone while driving. Also, you’ll be passing through a quiet neighborhood to get to Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden so please be respectful and drive like your kids live there! As always, make sure not to leave your opala (trash) around, and please use the recycling bins.
If you’re lucky enough to experience the beauty of Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden, make sure you snap a few pics in your favorite footwear and tag #AnywhereAloha. We love seeing where your OluKai take you