The United States of America are home to some breathtaking beaches, with locations like Miami Beach, Clearwater, Myrtle Beach, and Malibu standing out as some of the top spots in the contiguous states, but one state always seems to dominate any list of best American beaches: Hawaii. The Aloha State, situated many miles off the Pacific Coast, is made up of multiple islands, each boasting their own beautiful beaches. Hawaii also gets some of the finest weather imaginable, with almost constant sunshine and wonderfully warm temperatures all through the year, providing the perfect conditions for never-ending fun in the sun. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Carlsmith Beach Park
2.Reeds Bay Beach Park
3.Richardson Beach Park
4.Four Mile Beach
5.Hilo Bayfront Park
5 Best Hilo Beaches
- Carlsmith Beach Park, Photo: Melastmohican/stock.adobe.com
- Reeds Bay Beach Park, Photo: De Visu/stock.adobe.com
- Richardson Beach Park, Photo: Chris/stock.adobe.com
- Four Mile Beach, Photo: Melastmohican/stock.adobe.com
- Hilo Bayfront Park, Photo: Maridav/stock.adobe.com
- More Info, Photo: dhayes/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Melastmohican - Fotolia.com
More Ideas: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
Located in Papa'ikou on Hawaii's Big Island, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a 17-acre nonprofit nature reserve at the entrance to Onomea Bay, containing more than 2,000 species of native and international plants. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden was the vision of Dan Lutkenhouse, who happened upon the then-densely-overgrown Onomea Valley area during a vacation with his wife Pauline in 1977.
Lutkenhouse purchased the 17-acre land parcel for use as a botanical garden space, with the intent to preserve the area’s natural beauty from commercial development, and moved to Hawaii’s Big Island to cultivate the garden. Over the course of eight years, Lutkenhouse and his assistant, Terry Takiue, cleared the Valley’s jungle overgrowth by hand, with care not to disrupt the foundations of the area’s ecosystem, and developed the gardens to incorporate into the existing landscape. The Lutkenhouses formally opened the gardens to the public in 1984, and in 1995, donated the gardens to a 501(c) nonprofit trust in order to protect the area from future development.
Permanent Collections and Gardens
Today, the Garden features over 2,000 plant species of more than 750 genera, both native to the Hawaii area and transplanted from around the world. It is located eight miles north of Hilo, along the Hamakua Coast 4-Mile Scenic Drive near Route 19, and opens out onto the beaches of Onomea Bay. More than 200 species of palm tree are on display at the Garden, including some mango and coconut specimens that are more than 100 years old. A Visitor Center is located at the entrance to the facility, containing a gift shop and large lanai-style porch with visitor seating. Inside the Center, a small Onomea Museum contains photographs documenting the Garden’s development, as well as relics and artifacts from the Valley uncovered during the area’s exploration. Gatekeepers near the Center are available during operating hours to answer visitor questions about the Garden and its plant life. From the Center, a 500-foot Boardwalk, elevated over the dry ravine of Kahalii Stream and enveloped in giant bamboo, banana, and ginger tropical growth, marks the formal entrance to the Garden.
Two cultivated palm tree areas, a Palm Vista and Palm Jungle Trail, showcase palm species from around the world, including the Malaysian wanga palm, the fastest growing variety of palms in the world, and the towering Australian Alexandra palms. Within the jungle trail, the Onomea Stream leads into the three-tiered Onomea Falls, uncovered by Lutkenhouse during the process of clearing the Garden’s grounds. Visitors may view the falls, which is widely considered to be the most beautiful waterfall in the state of Hawaii, from a viewing bridge area.
Several cultivated areas of individual species are highlighted, including a Heliconia Trail, Orchid Garden, and Bromeliad Hill. An Anthurium Corner serves as a tribute to the parents of Marian Kobayashi, who were noted Anthurium farmers on the Big Island. Nearby, the Founder’s Birdhouse is home to several resident South American macaws, all named after prominent landscape features of the Big Island.
At the center of the Garden, the hand-carved Lily Lake reservoir is home to Queen Victoria water lilies, Madagascar travelers trees, and koi fish. Several beachfront trails begin near the lake, including the Trail to the Ocean and the Oceanfront Trail. The Alakahi Stream Trail contains two small bridges crafted from wood salvaged from area sugar mills, and the Boulder Creek Trail and Cook Pine Trail provide views of the jungle’s native areas. At the Bay’s beachfront, Turtle Point overlooks Rock Island and Crab Cove, which serve as a nature preserve for a'ama crabs and opihi. Other wildlife found throughout the Garden includes the gold dust day gecko, the sphinx moth, and the Hawaiian monk seal.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Guided tour packages are offered for small groups, featuring personalized docent-led tours of the Garden’s grounds and a choice of gifts from the facility’s gift shop. Educational tour programs for students are tailored to school curriculum standards and may be customized to meet individual classroom needs. Full wedding packages are available for rental, including full coordination of minister, floral, food, and music services by Garden staff. The Garden’s grounds may also be reserved for banquets, film shoots, and other special events, with banquet seating and catering service available upon request. Workshop add-ons are available for all tours and events, focusing on plant cultivation and artistic uses for flowers.
Shore excursion packages are available for visitors traveling to Hawaii’s Big Island by cruise ship, including transportation service from docking piers to the Garden facility. A 2.5-hour Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Tour is offered by Tour Dispatch, featuring 90 minutes of self-guided exploration of the Garden along with narrated tours of other nearby area attractions.
27-717 Old Mamalahoa Hwy, Papaikou, HI 96781, Phone: 808-964-5233
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More Ideas: Kalani
Set on the breathtaking volcanic coastline of Hawaii’s Big Island, Kalani is an educational retreat center that offers health and well-being retreats, group workshops, sabbaticals, and community life experiences.
Surrounded by 120 acres of pristine landscapes in the Puna District, Kalani offers comfortable accommodations ranging from off-grid campsites to eco-friendly wooden and bamboo cottages, freshly prepare farm-to-table fare, and an array of activities. Adventures and activities in the area include swimming and snorkeling in the azure ocean waters off the coast, exploring waterfalls the black sandy beaches and parks, and viewing Pele's lava flows at the Volcanoes National Park.
Thriving themselves on providing hands-on community participation and offering sustainable education programs, Kalani is a living model implementing best practices in permaculture.
Kalani offers a range of accommodations to suit every need from simple campsites to eco-friendly wooden and bamboo cottages. Architecturally aesthetic and equipped for comfort, rustic accommodations are simple, outside-in spaces that offer tranquil havens in which to relax and are available in a variety of styles and sizes from free-standing cottages, bungalows, and lodges to tree houses and lofts. All accommodations are basic and clean with no phones, televisions or heating and cooling, although open to the cool breezes off the sea.
Private, free-standing cottages are 400 square feet in size and made from renewable bamboo and wood with covered, outdoor lanais. Nestled among tropical foliage or looking out over the fields, cottages boast beach house décor and unique artistic touches and feature comfy beds, private bathrooms with showers and baths, and mini fridges.
Hale Lodges are family-friendly two-level lodges that are located on the central lawn near the dining lanai and offer quiet bedrooms on each floor with direct access to common areas and beautiful views. Approximately 200 square feet in size and catering for up to three guests, Hale Lodge rooms feature comfortable beds and private or shared bathroom with showers and baths. Hale 1 is a stylish second-floor studio spanning 1,000 square feet in size with covered outdoor lanais on both levels, while Hales 3 and 4 have larger second-floor studios with a shared kitchenette on the ground level.
Bungalow Rooms are 225 square feet in size with high, slanted ceilings and tall screened windows that flood the rooms with natural light and lovely jungle vistas. Accommodating up to two guests each, these rooms feature one queen-size and one twin bed, a private bathroom with shower and bath, and a mini fridge.
Lofts are approximately 1,000 square feet in size and feature two private bedrooms that open onto a common space, private bathrooms with showers and baths, a common area with a high-ceiled seating area and kitchenette.
Tucked beneath the cool shade of a large Monkeypod Tree, five Treehouse rooms seamlessly connects the nature outside with the interiors through large screened walls that draw in tropical breezes, filtered light and spectacular views. These rooms are 500 square feet in size and feature comfy beds, private bathrooms with showers and baths, and mini fridges against a backdrop of breathtaking views.
Described as the beating ‘heart’ of Kalani, the dining lanai and kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day, for up to 250 guests. Mealtimes are announced by the sound of a conch shell, a daily tradition that echoes the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian island land where Kalani now resides. Cuisine at Kalani encompasses a variety of culinary styles including Italian, Thai, and Indian, as well as an abundance of Hawaiian specialties such as fresh seafood and local tropical fruits and vegetables.
Facilities and amenities at Kalani included a beautiful 25-meter swimming pool and heated Watsu saltwater pool, as well as two Jacuzzis and a sauna. Massages are offered by expert therapists and can be enjoyed in the peaceful sanctuary of the massage rooms overlooking the pond.
Activity and gathering spaces include the Rainbow Room, which boasts 3,200 square feet of space with a suspended wooden floor, state-of-the-art sound system, bathrooms, showers and water fountain and is ideal for large group activities like yoga, music or dance performance. The Blue Moon Room is 6,600 square feet in size and features the same facilities.
The EMAX (Earnest Morgan Arts Exuberance Center) is 4,500 square feet in size with a suspended wooden floor with ocean views and is used for yoga, martial arts classes, dance and ecstatic dance, and other performances. Constructed from solid lava rock with a beamed wooden ceiling, the Ceremonial Lodge is available to groups for ceremonies and other special occasions and celebrations.
Other guest facilities include a casual open-air dining lanai (veranda) that offers delicious cuisine in a scenic, relaxed environment, a comfortable lounge area with several plush couches and wireless Internet, and a gift shop is stocked with Hawaiian clothing, crafts, snacks and other items.
Kalani offers a variety of daily activities, ranging from meditation and yoga to dance and volleyball. Activities, daily classes and activities include a series of yoga classes and workshops, including Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Restorative Yoga, as well as Hula classes, Lauhala weaving, and volleyball. Various dance, movement and meditation workshops and classes can be enjoyed such as Kalani Ecstatic Dance, Aerial Dance, Tai Chi, Qigong, Osho Nataraj Meditation, and Aquatic Bodywork.
12-6860 Kalapana-Kapoho Road, Pahoa, HI 96778, Phone: 800-800-6886
Back to: Spiritual Retreats
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More Ideas: Akatsuka Orchid Gardens
Located in Volcano, Hawaii on the Island of Hawai’i, Akatsuka Orchid Gardens is a greenhouse garden facility specializing in orchid cultivation, displaying more than 500 blooms, including the award-winning $20,000 “Volcano Queen” orchid. The Island of Hawai’i, colloquially referred to as the Big Island, became known as a prominent orchid growing sanctuary throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Chinese immigrant laborers working for area sugar plantations began transplanting native Asian orchids onto the island.
Orchid cultivation quickly grew as a popular hobby for wealthy merchants and descendants of the islands’ royalty, and as a result, several orchid growing societies were formed on the islands during the 1930s. In 1957, the World Orchid Conference, the largest orchid-centric botanical event in the world, was presented in Honolulu by the American Orchid Society, cementing the United States territory’s international presence as a major hub for orchid cultivation. Later that year, the University of Hawaii embarked on a research initiative focusing on the production of Dendrobium orchids, which is credited as a major influence in the development of the “Hawaiian Lei” orchid as a popular cultural symbol of Hawaii. Though only three species of orchids are native to Hawaii’s Big Island, the prevalence of transplanted wild-growing species such as the Phaius tankerville and the Arundina graminifolia has earned the island the modern nickname “Orchid Isle.”
Akatsuka Orchid Gardens was founded in 1974 by Moriyasu Akatsuka. Prior to his move to Hawaii, Akatsuka worked as a horticulturalist for a family orchid nursery in Japan, primarily growing Cattleya orchids, a variety commonly used for corsages and other decorative attire. Since its opening, Akatsuka’s facility has become one of the largest and most prominent orchid farms in the state. Throughout the facility’s history, Akatsuka has bred over 2,000 unique hybrid Cattleya plants.
Today, the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens facility encompasses more than seven acres, featuring 13 greenhouses showcasing more than 200,000 individual orchid plants. More than 500 blooming varieties are on display, including Akatsuka’s original “mother plants” that comprised the facility’s origin. Though the Gardens’ focus is its Cattleya orchids, other varieties grown include Dendrobium, Odontoglossum, Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, and Miltonia plants. Several tropical plants, including varieties of Bromeliads and Anthurium plants, are also highlighted. Visitors may purchase orchids and tropical plants directly from the facility or through the Gardens’ website, which offers shipping throughout Hawaii and the continental United States.
A 13,000-square-foot Orchid Showroom showcases more than 1,000 blooms, over 70% of which were grown on site. Inside the showroom, an 8,000-square-foot area has been designed as an Orchid Maze, which contains a self-guided path highlighting several orchid displays, including a wall of Akatsuka’s original hybrids and a custom-designed sign with 700 orchids spelling out “Aloha.” Exhibits throughout the maze offer information on orchid growth stages and cultivation, and educational video stations provide opportunities for interactive learning. A miniature zen garden area offers seating, and an orchid backdrop area is provided for photo opportunities.
From May through August, the Gardens’ signature $20,000 Orchid is on display in the showroom. Transplanted from Thailand in 1984, the Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum plant is a natural cultivar with no hybridization utilized. Valued at over $20,000, the orchid is one of the finest living specimens in the world today. It is the only plant of its species recognized as having perfect symmetry by the American Orchid Society, certified with a First Class Certificate and a 91 out of 100 score ranking in 1991.
Though the showroom is free and open daily for visitors, a small admission fee is required for entry to the Orchid Maze. 45-minute guided tours of the facility are also available, allowing visitors to tour the Gardens’ 13 greenhouses and growing facilities. The history of the Gardens is narrated by orchid experts, who also detail the orchid cultivation and reservoir collection processes used by the facility. All tour guests participate in a transplanting activity and have the chance to take home a small orchid plant. A complimentary sample of the Gardens’ homemade Poha berry ice cream, available for purchase in the gift shop, is also offered. Advance reservations for group tours are recommended, and cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.
The facility is located along the Big Island’s Highway 11, between mile markers 22 and 23. All facilities, including the greenhouses and gift shop, are wheelchair accessible. As part of the Volcano Village artist community area of the Big Island, the Gardens are located 10 minutes from the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is home to two active volcanoes, Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984, and Kilauea, considered one of the most active volcanoes on earth today.
11-3051 Volcano Rd, Volcano, HI 96785, Phone: 808-967-8234
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