Stroll Kaua’i’s Prized Botanical Gardens

Essential KauaiKauai

PHOTO: HAWAI‘I TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / TOR JOHNSON

Kaua‘i is nicknamed “The Garden Isle,” and for good reason: Kaua‘i is home to three botanical gardens belonging to the NATIONAL TROPICAL BOTANICAL GARDEN (NTBG) , a private, nonprofit organization and the only officially recognized tropical garden in the United States. This institute is dedicated to scientific research, conservation and education, working every day to protect and preserve tropical plant life that is under threat of extinction.

NTBG’s gardens — two on the South Shore and one on the North — are open for public tours, the fees of which go toward helping support the nonprofit’s mission.

On the South Shore in the verdant Lāwa‘i Valley lie the ALLERTON and MCBRYDE GARDENS . Access to the gardens is through the Visitors Center across from Spouting Horn in Po‘ipū, but the experience for both gardens begin immediately when visitors board NTBG vehicles for a ride along a spectacular coastline and journey into the valley.

Tours of both of these gardens are available via appointment only. Full tour descriptions, times, online bookings and pricing for McBryde and Allerton gardens are available at ntbg.org, or by phone at 808-742-2623.

On the North Shore, you’ll find NTBG’s third Kaua‘i garden, LIMAHULI GARDEN . Located in a lush valley overlooking the ocean, protected on three sides by craggy, moss-green mountains, upon entering Limahuli, visitors are awe-struck by the sight of ancient taro terraces that date back to the time when the first Polynesians landed on the island. These lo‘i kalo are backdropped by the majestic Mount Makana.

Self-guided tours of this garden are available via appointment. Full tour descriptions, times, online bookings and pricing for Limahuli Garden are available at ntbg.org, or by phone at 808-826-1053.