What comes to mind when you think of Kauai in Hawaii? Tropical gardens, right?! That’s why we were so excited to visit one of three National Tropical Botanical Gardens on the island, Allerton Garden. This garden came up a lot during my searches of things to do in Kauai so I knew we had to check it out for ourselves.
Kauai National Tropical Botanical Garden: Allerton Garden
Allerton Garden features an eclectic collection of statues and fountains nestled among a wide variety of flora. Visitors can choose from three guided tours: one of the gardens, one of the gardens and house, and one that includes both Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden. We opted for the garden tour. After our docent got on the shuttle bus, we started on our 15-minute drive up to the garden.
Allerton Garden sits above the picturesque Lāwaʻi Valley and its gorgeous beach. So beautiful! During the ride, our guide gave us a brief summary of how Hawaiian royal, Queen Emma, came to own this land. It then changed hands again before Robert Allerton bought it. We also learned about some of the plants found on the island.
Our bus parked near the bathrooms and the science center. The science center always has some 500,000 plants growing in it. After self-introductions of those in our group, we stopped to taste some breadfruit and check out a few nearby plants. Then it was time to continue on to the garden.
Touring the Allerton Garden Rooms
The Allertons often hosted guests at their home and in their garden. The area near the gazebo is where food and tables were usually set up. An interesting tidbit is that Mr. Allerton wanted the fountain statues to look like they do in France. To achieve this, he insisted that the statues never be cleaned or polished. That order is still observed today and, while the statues do have an antique look, they also don’t work as well as they used to. 😛
Allerton Garden consists of several “rooms.” Each of these sections has different landscaping styles and art pieces. Most of these were modeled after other famous landmarks Mr. Allerton saw on his travels. Scroll through the photos below to see:
- Diana’s Room
- Three Pools
- Bamboo Forest
- Mermaid Room
For a portion of the tour, we had an extra guest join our group. It was kind of hard to concentrate on what the guide was telling us while this little guy was tagging along. 🙂
Filming Locations of Famous Movie Scenes
Many movie directors noticed the rugged appeal of the area near Lāwaʻi Stream and included it in their films. That’s why it might look familiar if you’ve ever seen movies such as Jurassic Park.
Speaking of Jurassic Park, the Moreton Bay Fig Trees at the last stop are where dinosaur (Raptor) eggs were found in the original movie. Of course, we had to take advantage of the photo op with fake eggs!
What You Need to Know About the Allerton Garden Tour
Allerton Garden is a unique point of interest for those drawn to history, art, and landscaping. I did feel that tour prices were pretty steep ($60 per adult), even though I know the funds go to a good cause. The grounds are well-maintained and the staff is friendly. Our docent, David, was very knowledgeable about the background story of the garden, scientific research done there, plants on the premises, movies filmed on-site, and origins of the art placed in each part. At the end of the tour, you’ll want to make sure to browse the fabulous selection of souvenirs in the gift shop.
Since we were staying on the south side in Poipu, Allerton Garden was only a short drive away. But, I made the mistake of not noticing the “arrive 30 minutes early” note in the confirmation email. Plus, we happened to take a wrong turn on the way there and then had to backtrack. We ended up arriving about five minutes past our tour time and, well, the bus had already left. Fortunately, the staff was kind enough to reschedule so we could join the morning tour the next day. You can be sure we arrived MUCH earlier than we needed to for that appointment!
The tour itself was informative but it wasn’t quite what we hoped for. We did learn about a few of the tropical plants here but that seemed like secondary information. That’s why I don’t have too many photos of flowers and such. Allerton Garden mostly focuses on random items the owners wanted to copy for their personal space. They weren’t concerned about local culture or preserving native species. Instead, the garden is made up of plants they liked and what they thought complimented the artwork.
North Shore Limahuli Garden and Preserve
For those more interested in plant life from Polynesia and preservation of the local natural beauty, head to Limahuli on the North Shore. It’s managed by the same foundation and is also a National Tropical Botanical Garden. We would have loved to visit this garden as well. But, even with 10 days in Kauai, we couldn’t find room in our schedule to go there. Keep in mind that that garden is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Too, even though it is a self-guided tour, visitors need to make reservations for a parking spot ahead of time.
I was provided with one complimentary admission and a discount on two additional guests for review purposes. All opinions are my own.