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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.

Hoomaluhia_Botanical_Garden_Oahu_park_Hawaii
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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