Lyon Arboretum botanical gardens inland of Honolulu, Hawaii.

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Lyon Arboretum


Beautiful walking trails wind through this highly regarded 200-acre arboretum managed by the University of Hawaiʻi. It was originally founded in 1918 by a group of sugar planters growing native and exotic flora species to restore Honolulu’s watershed and test their economic benefit. This is not your typical overly manicured tropical flower garden, but a mature and largely wooded arboretum, where related species cluster in a seminatural state. For a guided tour, call at least 24 hours in advance.

Key plants in the Hawaiian ethno-botanical garden are ʻulu (breadfruit), kalo (taro) and ko (sugarcane) brought by early Polynesian settlers; kukui (candlenut trees), once harvested to produce lantern oil; and ti, which was used for medicinal purposes during ancient times and for making moonshine after Westerners arrived. It’s a short walk to Inspiration Point, or keep walking uphill for about 1 mile along a jeep road, then a narrow, tree root–ridden path to visit seasonal ʻAihualama Falls, a lacy cliffside cascade.

The office has a good selection of books for sale, as well as insect repellent. Parking is a major hassle; get there early to snare one of the scarce spaces. Otherwise, ride bus 5 to the end of the line and then make the 0.6-mile walk up to the arboretum.

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