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The Park, The Rain and Other Things: Exploring Oahu's Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden's reservoir lake, Loko Waimaluhia, or "lake of tranquil waters."

Each of my past several visits to Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden began at sunrise. Greeted by a few wild chickens strutting near the park’s still-locked, gated entry, my running buddies and I would lace up our footwear and survey the skies above Windward Oahu and the lushly verdant hills before us. Then, rain or shine, we would run.

I loved scrambling up and down the park’s winding road, perennially dotted with showering blooms from rainforest trees and plant species native to Hawai‘i and other far flung tropic locales from Polynesia and Melanesia to Malaysia, Africa, Sri Lanka and India. On these runs, I typically gave more attention to my pace and snippets of conversation among my friends, than admiring the park’s profusion of nature.

Today will be different.

As I sign in for a guided nature hike at Hoomaluhia’s visitor center, talk in my group of a half-dozen visitors is already focused on Oahu’s windward side geology and the Kaneohe-area park’s origins at the foot of the majestic Koolau Mountain Range. All of this before our hike even begins on this wondrously clear morning. The good weather is welcome.

Cloudbursts are frequent at  the park, with annual rainfall counts tallying more than 100 inches. Interestingly, the yearly rainfall that keeps the park perpetually verdant was a large part of what motivated its genesis. 

Following floods in 1965 and 1969 that devastated Kaneohe communities downstream of where Hoomaluhia now sits, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
was contracted to design and build a 2,200-foot earthen dam on area-traversing Kamoalii Stream. A planned added benefit of the massive, earth-moving flood-control project was a 400-acre park surrounding the completed dam’s reservoir. The aptly named garden park, Hoomaluhia, Hawaiian for “make a place of peace and tranquility,” opened in 1982. The 32-acre reservoir created by the dam was given the name, Loko Waimaluhia, or “lake of tranquil waters.”

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
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Back to the Garden: Rediscovering Kahanu Garden on Maui's Hana Coast

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