Situated in Hilo on the island of Hawaii, the Liliuokalani Gardens is a 30-acre park that boasts exquisite Japanese gardens, pagodas, fish ponds and rock gardens. Named after Queen Liliuokalani, this beautifully landscaped park is a tribute to the first Japanese immigrants that worked on Hawaii island’s sugar cane fields. The garden was first created in the early 1900’s and is considered to be the largest Edo-style garden outside of Japan. With stunning views of surrounding areas and plenty to see and do, the park is an extremely popular attraction with visitors to the island.
Known locally as Moku’ola, Coconut Island has played an important part in Hawaiian traditions over the years. This intriguing little island can be found just across the drive from the park, and is accessed by a narrow footbridge. Commonly referred to as the Healing Island, Coconut Island used to be the place that locals would visit in order to find natural cures for the illnesses and diseases that they encountered, and it used to also house an ancient healing temple. It is also from Coconut Island where visitors can enjoy breathtaking views across downtown Hilo and the Hilo bayfront.
Shoroan is a traditional Japanese tearoom that can be found on the grounds of Liliuokalani Gardens, and had to be rebuilt in 1994 after the original structure was destroyed by a fire. Shoroan’s actual tea room, known as its chashitsu, was donated to the garden by the Fifteenth Grand Tea Master of Urasenke, and is as traditional a tea room as you would find anywhere in Japan.
The Japanese Gardens
The serene Waihonu Pond is at the center of the Japanese gardens, with the surrounding landscape being planned around this focal point. The pond is surrounded by charming footbridges, as well as gazebos, and there are also plenty of stunning plants all around, from weeping willow trees to azaleas to bamboo glades. The various paths and walkways around the park have recently been renovated, and a Japanese rock garden was also added, bringing about even more of a tranquil ambiance.
Banyan Tree Drive
Banyan Tree Drive, which flanks Liliuokalani Gardens with its canopy of Banyan trees, is definitely another of the park’s most impressive features. The majority of the trees were planted by the city in 1935, after which the remaining trees were planted by several famous individuals, who each have their name displayed next to the tree that they planted. From Richard Nixon to Babe Ruth, these trees boast some of the biggest names in American culture and history, and it is always exciting to take a stroll around and see who else’s name you discover.
The tourists that visit Liliuokalani Gardens usually stop by to take a look at all of the park’s stunning features, from the koi ponds to the colorful plants. The park is also extremely popular with the locals, who tend to prefer visiting in the early mornings for a peaceful workout session. Since the garden is not fenced off, it is open every day of the week, for 24 hours a day, making access convenient whenever you happen to decide that you want to check out this cultural and natural landmark on Big Island.