Limahuli Garden and Preserve
Wondering what to do or see when visiting Kauai? Check back regularly for our weekly featured attraction. This week, we’re highlighting the north shore’s Limahuli Garden, selected as the best natural botanical garden in the U.S. by the American Horticultural Society. It’s a well-earned honor!
Limahuli Garden and Preserve was established to restore and preserve native plants and Hawaiian culture, while educating scientists and tourists alike. The garden area is open to the public, and showcases a variety of plants in different collections. These collections include many native plants which are rare and on the verge of extinction, as well as crops cultivated by the early Hawaiians, such as taro, sweet potatoes, and plantation-era flowers and fruits – like the pineapple! – that are widely associated with Hawaii.
The preserve area consists of almost 1000 acres of land. The Lower Preserve is rugged, only accessible by foot, and not open to the public. This area was severely impacted in the late 1800’s when cattle were introduced into the Limahuli valley. The aggressive restoration project implemented ten years ago has proven so successful that it garnered national attention and now serves as a model for newer projects.
The Upper Preserve is extremely remote and only accessible via helicopter. It is so inaccessible, that it remained a pristine ecosystem until powerful hurricanes Iwa in 1982 and Iniki in 1992 stripped the Upper Preserve of a great deal of vegetation, while also depositing non-native seeds throughout. To combat the effects of the hurricanes and pressure from a growing feral pig population, increased management and restoration efforts have been in place since 1992 in the hopes of returning the Upper Preserve to its original state.
The Limahuli Garden and Preserve is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday). You can see the visitor center and gift shop from the highway as you drive through the Haena area (about 7 miles past the town of Hanalei, and about a half a mile before the road ends at Ke’e Beach). Self-guided tours are available Tuesday-Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission for adults is $20, $10 for college students with a valid school ID, and children 18 and under are free. Guided tours are offered Tuesday-Saturday at 10:00 am. Admission for adults is $40, $20 for college students with a valid school ID, and $20 for children 10-17. Guided tours require advance reservations. The loop walking tour is about 3/4 of a mile over varied terrain-walking sticks are available for those who need them, and the trail is not suitable for strollers or wheel chairs. For more information, please visit http://ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli.php.