We boarded an air-conditioned van at the pier and listen to our local guide as we took a scenic and narrated tour through Hilo’s bay front and the lush Hamakua Coast in route to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The 40-acre valley is a natural greenhouse, protected from buffeting trade winds and blessed with fertile volcanic soil. At the entrance gate to the Garden, we were greeted by the Garden’s gate-keeper who answered questions and then sent us off into the tropical jungle. A 500 foot long elevated boardwalk winds down the steep walled ravine of Kahalii Stream that is now dry because of a 1949 landslide.

The Garden’s collection of tropical plants is international in scope. Over 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera, are found in this one-of-a-kind garden. At a time when rainforest plants are disappearing at an alarming rate, the Garden is working to preserve as many species as possible for the benefit of future generations.