McBryde Garden: All tours require a round-trip tram ride between Southshore Visitors Center and the Garden; approx. 15 minutes each way. Tram departure schedule: Self-guided: 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.; Guided Sun: 9 a.m.
Self-guided: Adults (13 yrs. and above) $20; children 6-12 yrs. $10; children 5 yrs. and under free
Guided: Adults (13 yrs. and above) $40; children 10-12 yrs. $20. Children 10 yrs. and above only on tour
Allerton: M-Sat: 9am, 10am, 1pm, 2pm; 2 ½ hour tour
Costs: Adults (13 yrs. and above) $40; children 10-12 yrs. $20. Children 10 yrs. and above only on tour.
In Lawai, the 186-acre National Tropical Botanical Garden at McBryde is the only tropical-plant research station in the United States. Here you’ll see lily pads the size of swimming pools, along with dozens of rare and endangered plants, including strawberry bananas and wild ginger.
The research station was founded by congressional charter in 1964 but is supported today through private donations. The National Tropical Botanical Garden also manages two off-site properties: 1,000 acres in Limahuli Valley in northern Kauai and 100 acres in Hana, Maui.
The neighboring hundred-acre Allerton Gardens was a favorite summer vacation spot for Queen Emma, wife of Kamehameha IV, in the 1800s. Today it’s run by John Allerton, whose father, Robert, bought the property in the 1930s for the purpose of creating a beautiful garden. The father-and-son team certainly succeeded, and Allerton is a cornucopia of sights and smells.
There are more than 6,000 species of tropical plants flourishing in this fertile land. The gardens are organized into sections, such as plants with medicinal value, plants of nutritional importance, endangered species, and herbs and spices.
As the world’s rain forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate, this is an important facility where tropical plants are preserved and propagated and the public is educated about the role of each plant within its ecosystem.