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

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My first-ever excursion into Hoomaluhia was an overnight camping trip with my son’s Cub Scout troop. Secretly dreading I would end up lugging camping gear deep into a forest of some sort, I was thrilled when, after driving nearly two miles into the park, I spotted a small parking lot, picnic tables and a no-frills, but tidy, restroom area near where we would later build campfires. During a nature hike, the Scouts made beelines to plants in the campground area fitted with markers noting species and places of origin.

Camping at Hoomaluhia is hardly a rugged wilderness experience—in a few areas, one can catch glimpses of traffic on a nearby freeway. Still, on some visits, there are moments when the only sounds I hear are chattering birds and tradewinds sweeping through leafy trees before being lifted up to the peaks of the Koolau.

The park's main road, bordered by rainforest trees and plants.

In these quiet times, it’s easy to feel truly immersed in nature and far from urbanity. I feel it while running along the park’s road before the entry gate opens to cars. I feel it during today’s guided nature hike when we stop under tucked-away cinnamon and nutmeg trees to snap twigs and pods and bring them to our noses, savoring the scent of spices.

The moment reminds me of the morning I woke up at my son’s Scout camp out years ago. It had rained overnight in Hoomaluhia while we slept in our tents. As I stepped outside and gazed at the emerald Koolau before us, I witnessed clearing sunrise skies and a newly formed waterfall plunging down a mountain crevice—a breathtaking sight. It’s all still there.

More than three decades after human hands and the din of earthmovers shaped Hoomaluhia Garden, it continues to bloom as a place of peace and tranquility. 

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden

End of Luluku Road, Kāne‘ohe • (808) 233-7323 • Website

Photos: David Croxford for HAWAII Magazine

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

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