Beautiful Gardens of Kauai Part I

Beautiful Gardens of Kauai - Part I

First of three posts about visiting beautiful gardens on the island's north shore

Panoramic view from about midway up at Limahuli

NOTE:  Rental cars are strongly recommended on Kauai.  On this particular trip, rental cars were insanely expensive at well over $100 per day for an intermediate SUV.  I was booking through Costco, which usually has the best deals.  I've been told that Turo is a better option now, so you will want to investigate that.    

I decided to test out the new island ride-sharing service.  It is NOT ready for prime time.  That is a topic for another blog post.  However, my tip if you plan to visit without a car is to reserve your transportation in advance.  You can do this through Uber or one of the island's taxi services.  These are not cheap, but if you only go out from your resort for a few days, it can save you money.  Your resort concierge can also be a good resource.   

Since I was staying on the island's north shore without a rental car, my garden visits were limited to that area.  That's okay since three of the five most highly recommended gardens are on the island's northern side.    

Advance reservations are required for all three gardens.  Operating days/hours are highly variable.  For example, at Na Aina Kai, I wanted to do a self-guided tour and photograph with my tripod.  That option was only available on Thursday mornings.  My point here is that if you want to see the gardens of Kauai, you'll need to be on your advance planning A-game.

Limahuli Garden and Preserve

Limahuli Garden and Preserve is located in the most remote but scenic area of the three gardens I visited.  It is located in Hanalei on the Napali coast, with absolutely stunning views of the mountains and the ocean.  The drive is not treacherous like the road to Hana; however, there are several single-lane bridges. 

At Limahuli, you are literally mountain climbing, as there is a significant change in elevation as you make your way through the garden.  The paths are mostly paved, and stairs aid your uphill climb.  If you would feel more secure with a walking stick, they do have loaners available.  You will want sturdy, grippy shoes as the paths are likely to be slick from the occasional showers this area is known for.  Plan to spend one and a half to two hours here so that you can take your time getting around.

Guided tours are not available at this time.  Check the website for the most current information.  You need to book your self-guided tour in advance and reserve a parking spot for your vehicle since the parking here is limited.  Currently, self-guided tours are a reasonable $25.  The garden provides a very nicely detailed booklet and signage to help you navigate and learn as you go.

This garden is a nature preserve, as there are a variety of endangered plants and trees here.  Before entering, you must spray your shoes with an antifungal agent to protect these plants from diseases.  A perfect example is hibiscus kokio shown at left.  It’s a rare version of the familiar flower that’s endemic to and found only on Kauai.  It is considered to be a "species of concern."  This term means there is concern about the ability of this species to persist in the area over the long term.

Limahuli is one of five National Tropical Botanic Gardens, three of which are here on Kauai.   It's best for its scenic views and conservationists.