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A tour of O‘ahu’s BOTANICAL GARDENS is not only a walk in beauty, but also is a lesson in the science of tropical plants. Some tours and exhibits are designed to enhance knowledge of various species, while others are more aesthetic, providing photo tours around the island’s gorgeous botanicals.

The gardens listed here do not represent the full list of O‘ahu’s botanical gardens, but rather a cross- section of destinations throughout the island:

FOSTER BOTANICAL GARDEN is a verdant oasis on the edge of downtown Honolulu fidlled with acre upon lush acre of the nation’s largest collection of tropical plants. It’s also home to 43 of O‘ahu’s designated “exceptional trees,” which are protected by law. The collection includes labeled plantings of palms, heliconia, orchids and a primitive cycad garden. The gift shop has packaged plants and seeds that are cleared for entry into the mainland, as well as plant-related gifts and crafts. Call 808-768-7135.

LYON ARBORETUM , a 194-acre tropical rainforest research center in upper Mānoa Valley, is an easy drive from Waikīkī. Home to more than 5,000 tropical plants, the arboretum contains one of the world’s largest collections of palms. It’s open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and closed on weekends. The arboretum is an independent research unit within the University of Hawai‘i, and is the only university arboretum in the country set within a tropical rainforest. The entrance to the arboretum is at the end of Mānoa Road. Reach the arboretum by phone at 808-988-0456 for more information.

HO‘OMALUHIA BOTANICAL GARDEN lies on the Windward side of the island. The gardens are laid out on 400 acres in the shadow of the Ko‘olau Mountains and are divided into sections devoted to different types of tropical plants. Guided hikes are offered. Camping permits and information are available at Ho‘omaluhia Visitor Center. Call 808- 233-7323.

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