Tropical Botanical Gardens, Hilo
This is actually a tropical nature preserve and sanctuary devoted to providing a plant haven, living seed bank and study center for plants of the tropical world. The first part of the walk through it appears to be natural gardens but I am sure some species have been added to it. The latter part of the path is obviously where some specimens have been planted and some are not yet mature. However, it is well done and has a lot of magnificent foliage and blossoms as you can see in the photo.
What this garden adverises is Umauma Falls but the orchids in the photo were almost as big as my head - spectacular! The falls are truly beautiful and the walk through the rainforest is striking. It includes many varieties of orchids, bromeliads, ginger, etc.
This might not be the place for the 'younger' crowd, but if you like flowers, plants, trees and wonderful views of the ocean and waterfall then this is the place for you. There's lots of signs about the dangerous and steep initial descent, but I didn't think it was that bad, just slightly steep. It was dry when we went, which helped I'm sure.
My advice, bring a lot of bug spray. There are towelettes on sale in the gift store for only $1.50 apiece. They have umbrellas you can use for free.
When you're done touring the gardens, go back up and look at the little quasi-museum within the gift shop. Takes 10 min to look at, but some interesting stuff. When you leave turn left out of the parking lot to continue on the scenic drive, at the end is a small market, smoothie, fruit stand run by a wonderful family. Perfect place to get a little snack and local flavor. Keep going along the road and you'll hit the highway again.
This was our last stop on the way back to the ship after the afternoon tour. I enjoyed walking around and taking photos of the flowers. We really couldn't take any flowers back with is though so I just got some soap.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.
A beautiful display of rare and endangered plants from around the world and those native to Hawaii. Trails wind through a Hawaiian rain forest, many flowers, fruit trees, waterfalls, bamboo, rugged coastal views, tropical birds.
Akatsuka Orchid Gardens has a good collection of exotic orchids available for purchase. Check their website for directions and details.