We met up with friends for an after school picnic today at Moanalua Gardens. Hooray for kindergarten that gets out at noon!
I’ve always liked this park but it never made sense to me. It’s well maintained and beautiful, has an odd collection of buildings, feels randomly located and attracts busloads of (mostly) Japanese tourists who walk a little ways into the park, take lots of pictures and leave. So I googled it before sitting down to write this post and now it makes more sense! That and a sign I saw at the park which explained the Japanese tourists.
The buildings include the summer house of King Kamehameha V (pictured below) which is closed to the public for safety reasons and an old tea house that I couldn’t find much information on.
I think the reason the location feels odd is just because of how the land around the park has developed through the years, sort of isolating this beautiful spot. And the Japanese tourists? They come to see a famous monkeypod tree that is the symbol of the Hitachi Group.
Never heard of this famous tree? Me neither, but if it wasn’t famous before it is now that it appears in every Japanese visitor’s travel album.
After our picnic the kids all had fun climbing trees, checking out the koi pond and playing in the shade. There are beautiful wooden benches throughout the park that I liked to sit on and my girl liked to climb on. There is also a trail that goes along the back of the gardens. We didn’t explore it today, but the kids did check out a stream that flows through the gardens.
This place is called “Moanalua Gardens” which makes it sound like a botanical garden where you should “look, but don’t touch” which isn’t that much fun for children. But I felt just the opposite here. We stayed out of roped off areas and didn’t do anything destructive of course, but in some gardens kids being kids would be frowned upon – not here. A great place with so much to explore. No playground, but the kids didn’t even seem to notice. We’ll be heading back again I’m sure!
Do it yourself on Oahu:
• As for so many places on Oahu, Moanalua Gardens is easy to find (you can see it from the freeway) but a little tricky to actually get to the first time. It’s not intuitive and it’s not well marked, but really it’s easy.
Directions: From the Moanalua Fwy. (Hwy 78) take the Pu’uloa Road exit and drive toward the mountains / Tripler Hospital. Take the first left which is Mahiole Street (there’s a signal and a street sign). Take the very next left which will go under the road you were just on. At this point you will probably feel like you’re in the wrong spot but just keep going and you’ll be in the Moanalua Gardens parking lot before you know it.
• Take koi food if you want to feed the fish.
• Public restrooms are available.
• It’s free!