Maui's Kahanu Garden offers walking tours

HANA, Hawaii--The National Tropical Botanical Garden opened its 123-acre Kahanu Garden at Hana, Maui for guided walking tours.

Started 25 years ago, the garden specializes in plants with significance in Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures. It also includes Pi'ilanhale Heiau, one of the state's largest heiau (Hawaiian temple) and 16th century resident of Maui's King Pi'ilani. Visitors see the heiau on the tour, but are not allowed to enter the sacred site.

NTBG's priority at Kahanu Garden is the collection and study of Pacific plants. It claims the world's largest collection of breadfruit and has extensive collections of native palms, coconut trees, bananas, vanilla and pandanus. The garden is developing a collection of rare and endangered coastal species that grows only on Maui.

The privately funded NTBG has four other botanical gardens, and with the opening of Kahanu, all five are open for guided tours.

On Kauai, it has the 186-acre Lawai Garden, its research center and headquarters, at Lawai, near Poipu, and adjacent 100-acre Allerton Garden. It also has the 17-acre Limahuli Garden near Haena on Kauai's north shore, and the nine-acre Kampong Garden in Coconut Grove, Florida. Last fall NTBG opened a visitor center and gift shop in Poipu, from where visitors are shuttled to the two Lawai gardens.

Guided tours are offered at Kahuna Mondays through Fridays. Admission is $10 per person (12 and under, free), and reservations are required. Call Kahanu at (808) 248-8912 for more information and specific tour times.

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