A Day In Paradise
After enjoying the Founders' Birdhouse, a side trail will lead visitors past rare Pembanus Palms to Anthurium Corner. This area was made possible in part by Marian Kobayashi who, as a tribute to her late parents, (Anthurium farmers for many years on the Big Island) donated $10,000.
Anthurium Corner features every shade of Anthurium andraeanum (Araceae family) nestled beneath a large prehistoric-looking Mulesfoot Fern (Angiopteris evecta). The giant fern provides shade that these Anthuriums need to thrive. A bench across the path from this colorful bounty provides a quiet place to sit and admire the beauty.
Visitors next retrace their steps back towards the Founders' Birdhouse and towards the Lily Lake Trail.
If, as Henry David Thoreau said, "the lake is the eye of the land," then Lily Lake is the guardian of Onomea Valley. Located at the center of the Garden,the lake now looks as though nature placed it there. In fact, it was dug by hand by Dan Lutkenhouse and three helpers, and the bottom was lined with hand-poured concrete three inches thick to contain the water.
Recently a major effort was completed, breathing new life into the Lake and its surroundings. This project included a complete cleaning of the lake floor, creating a new rock wall for safety and beauty, adding a natural wetland filtration system with a waterfall to keep the water clear, and surrounding the lake with many new plants.
Using plants and natural systems to filter and maintain clear water in Lily Lake was the best and most environmentally friendly option. A wetland filtration system eliminated the need for expensive filters and costly maintenance, while adding beautiful aquatic plants to the area. As the water circulates through the wetland, the plants' roots absorb a lot of the nutrients leaving less for the pond polluting algae to thrive.
Over 110 species of tropical plants can be seen from the Lily Lake. Among them are giant Queen Victoria water lilies from the headwaters of the Victoria River in Africa; an exotic wi apple tree, believed to be the largest wi apple tree in Hawaii; Madagascar travelers trees, a spectacular fan-shaped variety; and betel nut palms, the source of betel nuts, a narcotic. Purple lotus and papyrus reeds fringe the border of the lake. Nowhere else in the world, be it jungle or botanical garden, is this vast variety of plants displayed.
Lily Lake is home to a large school of beautiful koi fish, some as long as 30 inches. Koi fish are revered in Japan, where they are carefully crossbred to produce prize specimens, sometimes valued in excess of $1000 apiece. Feeding time at Lily Lake is a colorful frenzy, as the fat and happy koi gobble pelletized fish food.
Skirting the lake, the trail passes multi-colored crotons, or Joseph's coat, and pretty impatiens flowers. Ti plants with narrow, red- striped leaves fill the understory, while monsteras with their huge leaves climb into the canopy of tall trees, including giant monkeypod trees. Along this trail are more than 40 different species of plants.
The Next trail leads guests out to breathtaking views of Onomea Bay.
Trail to The Ocean
The trail leads to the majestic Pacific coast, passing giant coconut palms and monkeypod trees on the way. Some of these trees are more than 100 years old, and as ancestors from the past, they have witnessed the migration of settlers in and out of the valley. Australian tree ferns provide a lacy, vivid green backdrop. Graceful licuala palms are found here as well.
More than 60 different species are found on this trail. Exotic plants include Indonisian ginger, Amazon lily, Philippine orchids, and beautiful bromeliads. Look for the deep green and purple hues of the understory foliage here, the light playing over the rainforest can provides an ever-changing backdrop that contrasts with patterns of leaves along the trail.
The Oceanfront Trail
The Oceanfront Trail begins at the Twin Rocks Overlook. Here, Guests can read the Legend of Twin Rocks, two young lovers turned to stone as they protected their village from attack. This serene area has 360° panoramic views and is available for weddings and Corporate Groups.
Nearby in a secluded setting are four unmarked graves of persons who once lived in the valley. Below on the coast is the lava tube of Onomea Bay.
Lava tubes are formed by hot lava flowing from vents into the sea. The outer layer of lava cools into rock, insulating the still molten interior through which the lava pours on its way to the sea. Today, the tube is filled with sea water and beaten by breaking waves. No one knows how far the lava tube runs into the valley. This is a very interesting and beautiful feature of the rugged shoreline of the Garden. Presently there are at least 28 different species of plants growing on the Oceanfront Trail.
Along the Oceanfront Trail, ironwood trees from Australia whisper in the tradewinds. Majestic Breadfruit trees are plentiful; these provided a staple food for the ancient Hawaiians and early settlers, and chewing gum was made from its white, milky sap.
Lauhala trees, which the early Hawaiians used to make tapa mats, are set back from the short cliff overlooking Onomea Bay. The atmosphere is timeless, with the rolling breakers inspiring peaceful meditation.
Rock Island and Crab Cove
As important residents of the Garden's marine preserve, a'ama crabs and opihi thrive here. Onomea Bay is one of the few places on the Big Island where these marine creatures are not hunted.
From Turtle Point, you can look down over Crab Cove; further along the shore, at Turtle Bay Vista, you can see the black sand beach where a monk seal recently made an unprecedented visit.
Wooden benches invite rest, reflection, and contemplation above the rocky shore. This spot is one of the most exhilarating and restful in all the Garden.
From Crab Cove, visitors follow the Alakahi Stream through a palm forest, returning to Lily Lake and other beautiful Garden trails.
Alakahi ("Little River") Stream Trail
This bubbling stream is crossed by two small bridges, made like all of the Garden's bridges from wood and metal salvaged from old sugar mills. The stream is surrounded by orange heliconias, giant mango trees, and pink ornamental bananas.
Here is also where you will find a large Statue of Ku, the Hawaiian God of War, carved by sculptor Rocky Vargas from a Monkeypod Tree that once stood in the Garden.
Approaching Lily Lake, an abundance of anthuriums are present, including obakes, a beautiful multicolored Japanese hybrid variety. Along the Alakahi Stream Trail, there are more than 33 varieties of plants.
Boulder Creek Trail
On the way to Cook Pine Trail, Boulder Creek Trail crosses Alakahi Stream, which cascades over mammoth boulders. Ordinarily the streambed is dappled with sunshine and mossy rocks, but after heavy rains the stream is transformed into a whitewater torrent. Ferns and flowers grow from hidden nooks in the rocks.
Low rock walls which created terraces are evidence of the early settlers who planted taro here. There are more than 16 species of plants along this short, shady trail. Nearby, the Garden's historic Portuguese oven is prominently identified.
Cook Pine Trail
The newest trail in the Garden is the Cook Pine Trail. Whereas most of the Garden trails are shaded by tall trees, the Cook Pine Trail enjoys an abundance of sunshine. Over 48 species of trees and colorful flowering plants that thrive in full sun have been planted here.
This trail features a towering Cook pine, named after the famous English navigator Captain James Cook, the first westerner to arrive in Hawaii. Set amidst African tulip trees with their orange blossoms, the Cook pine emerges from the canopy like a rocket to the moon. It is estimated to be 160 feet tall, making it the largest specimen in the islands.
Many tree ferns can be seen here, including the rough tree fern, the black tree fern, and the West Indian tree fern. Numerous blooms of the hibiscus family present a rainbow of colors, ranging from red and yellow to soft purple. Colorful ti plants and unusual stilt root palms line the trail. A noteworthy rare species is the lovely lemon bay rum tree from Trinidad, remarkable for its intoxicating scent.
Cook Pine Trail hosts a variety of Hawaiian endemic plants. The rare palm pritchardia schattauerii is represented; only a few dozen individuals of this species are found today on the Big Island. The loulu palm is also here, a fan palm native to the island of Molokai. The floss silk tree, with its prominent thorns, will one day be 50 feet tall and bear beautiful blossoms and seeds that look like small footballs. Inside the seeds is a fluffy silk known as kapoc, once used to make life preservers because it floats so well.
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Includes full color photographs, partial plant list, and history of Onomea Valley
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