On the Big Island
About 7 miles north of Hilo on the east side of this island, you'll find this beautiful tropical garden. Just look for the "4 Mile Scenic Drive" sign as you head towards Akaka Falls. Turn right and follow the narrow winding road. This 4 mile section of road used to be their coast highway until the current Hwy 19 was built. You'll see the parking area for the garden on the left. Admission was $14 per person to stroll through the gardens. That's a little steep but we did get a free umbrella rental and free bug repellent of which both are almost a must.
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3 Mamalahoa Highway, , Papaikou, Hawaii 96781
Enroute from Hilo towards the infamous Akaka Falls, we stopped to admire this amazing coastline and rocky shores known as Onomea Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. Also known as the Hamakua Coast comprising parts of North Hilo and Hamakua on the flanks of the two dormant volcanoes - Mauna Kea and Kohala. Since the Hawaiian islands are a chain of volcanic mountains that are slowly moving through the Pacific Ocean in a northwesterly direction by means of plate tectonics, therefore the beaches and shores are rather rocky and sharp, always changing, always evolving. Mark Tawain described the islands as "the loveliest fleet of islands to sail in any ocean". Streams, Cliffs, some beaches, and lush/verdant stream valleys dot this landscape. This is an area of high rainfall due to is windward location. Onomea Bay is a perfect place to see ocean and earth aggressively carving out the landscape. Over the millennia, forces of earth, sea, volcanic activity, earthquakes, and tsunamis have altered this landscape creating unique geological features along this coastline. One of which was the Onomea Arch which is no longer after destruction from an earthquake in 1956. This was a legendary arch where King Kamehameha threw his spear creating this huge tunnel in the rock. Now its just a wide crevice in the cliffs on the north side of Onomea Bay. Once there was a fishing village named Kahali'i along the bay, the remains of its old stone walls can be still found in the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens where the villagers once grew taro and sugar cane. This was also one of the first natural landing areas for ships as early as the 1800's. It was a famous port for construction of the Onomea Sugar Mill and exportation of raw sugar. This valley along the bay also hosted a lilikoi or passion fruit farm, cattle farming, plantations, wild banana, mango, coconut, and guava tree farming. The area is amazing and hosts Akaka Falls, Hawaiian Botanical Gardens, as well as several other scenic points of interest.
While travelling along the coast near Hilo with my friend Kawika, we dropped into a beautiful hidden scenic cove that lies next to the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens. While the Botanical Gardens have a admission fee, this little public area does not. You can take the little hike down the path past the gardens and down to this really nice little cove. Along the way you can enjoy some of the tropical flower delights branching out from the botanical gardens as well as those in the wild along the path and shoreline. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens are a piece of paradise in a valley along the ocean and a notoriously beautiful part of the Big Island. It is located approximately 8.5 miles north of Hilo enroute to the famous Akaka Falls. It is a hotspot of Onomea Bay. The park consists of a garden valley with nature trails meandering through a true tropical rainforest, streams, waterfalls, and ocean vistas. The garden has a vast variety of palms, gingers, bromeliads, heliconias, and other 2,000 rare flowers/plants from around the world. It is run by a non-profit nature preserve and conservancy that provides a plant sanctuary, a living seed bank, and a study center for trees and plants.