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Back to the Garden: Rediscovering Kahanu Garden on Maui's Hana Coast

A view of the Hana Coast from Kahanu Garden's rugged shoreline.

On a self-guided tour, provided guidebook in hand, I gained a richer understanding of each of the garden's canoe plants—kalo (taro), ulu (breadfruit), uala (sweet potato), ko (sugar cane), awa (kava), and more. I paused at the seaside graves of Kahanu family members, ancestors of Kahanu, a chief granted the land by King Kamehameha III in 1848. I again stood at the base of Piilanihale, a heiau (temple) believed to have been built over 3.5 centuries beginning in 1200 A.D. For years hidden by jungle, the heiau was restored by staff and volunteers over three decades, from the garden's 1974 opening.

Hawaiian red ginger flowers in bloom near the garden's entrance.

The lawn was still vast, still empty, but I appreciated the views that allowed.

Mostly, though, I reveled in the garden's wonderful quietude, leisurely taking in its cultural and natural treasures. I sat for an hour on its sea cliffs, listening to the pounding surf and watching the ocean. I contemplated life and hatched plans.

Kalo (taro) grows in the park's canoe garden.

And then I was gone again.

Kahanu Garden
650 Ulaino Road, Hana, Maui • (808) 248-8912 • Click here to visit the Kahanu Garden website.

Plants in Kahanu Garden's canoe garden are marked with informational placards explaining their use in the everyday lives of early Hawaiians.

Photos by David Croxford and Derek Paiva for HAWAII Magazine

(This feature was originally published in the May/June 2013 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Kalo and more! Head to Hana this weekend for the annual East Maui Taro Festival
East Maui Taro Festival honors an ancient Hawaiian staple
Hidden Hawaii: Along the Hana coast

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