Sunday, November 11, 2018

Winter Escape--Honolulu

As the days get colder, I daydream about tropical beaches.

For example, in Hawaii
Waikiki, Honolulu

While I always recommend the Big Island if you are going to Hawaii (for its diversity and its active volcano) I recently did a successful experiment--I had a great botanical time from a single hotel in a easily-reached city. We simply flew to Honolulu last May, stayed in a hotel there, and explored from there.
Diamond Head, Honolulu
View from hotel window
The hotel was along Waikiki Beach. Waikiki is an easily-reached tourist destination with lots of hotels varying in location, amenities and prices.

Waikiki, Honolulu
Waikiki Beach
Waikiki, Honolulu
Along Waikiki Beach Walk
We rented a car but Kawela Bay on the far side of the island of Oahu from Honolulu is only 42 miles away--the traffic may be bad but the distances on Oahu are not great.
Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu
Path in Foster Botanical Garden
Foster Botanical Garden (home page) is in Honolulu, four miles from Waikiki. It was founded in the early 1800s and used to grow imported trees with economic potential in Hawaii, such as camphor, kapok and cinnamon. The result is they have an interesting collection of plants, including, after 200 years, some really big ones.

Queensland kauri, Agathis robusta Foster Botanical Garden
Queensland kauri, Agathis robusta (Auricariaceae), from Australia

Elsewhere in Honolulu, big tropical plants, exotic to me, were everywhere
Plumeria (Plumeria) from the Americas

hau tree Hibiscus tiliaceus
hau tree, Hibiscus tiliaceus a Hawaiian native
In the center of the island is the Wahi'awa Botanic Garden (website), 23 miles from Honolulu. It is  at almost 1000' above sea level--Honolulu is at sea level--and so a bit cooler. At one time it was an experimental garden for the sugar planters. Today it has a spectacular collection of striking tropical plants from around the world.

This, growing on Wahi'awa's parking lot fence, is jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys, pea family Fabaceae) from southeast Asia. Its flowers really are turquoise.
Wahi'awa Garden, Oahu
jade vine, Strongylodon macrobotrys
But I also loved the similar scarlet jade vine (Mucuna bennettii, pea family, Fabaceae)

Wahiawa Botanical Garden, Oahu, Hawaii
scarlet jade vine, Mucuna bennettii
Native Hawaiian plants can be hard to spot around Waikiki--though increasingly they are used as ornamentals--but not far out of the city, the mountains still hold native communities and are laced by hiking trails.

Along the shores, one can admire the view or, in places, play in the surf or walk looking at shore plants and beach drift.

beach morning glory Ipomoea pes-caprae
beach morning glory Ipomoea pes-caprae

coast, Oahu, Hawaii

We also went to history and art museums, ate out, gift shopped, swam...lots of non-botanical fun.

I wish a blog post could include the temperature, the breezes, the sounds and smells as well as pictures. Those are part of why Honolulu is such a lovely place!

Comments and corrections welcome.

Posts from this blog about the visiting Honolulu
Foster Botanical Garden link
Waihawa Botanical Garden link
Cactus Garden in Honolulu link
Hiking Trails above Honolulu link

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist

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