Lyon Arboretum is a botanical garden that is owned and operated by the University of Hawaii. It is used for research and community education and is open to the public! It’s location in a tropical rainforest in the back of Manoa Valley is a gorgeous spot.
When you sign in at the visitor’s center you can get a map of the place which I would recommend. I found the map a little hard to read and match with the trails themselves but we would have been even more lost without any map at all.
My friends and I began by exploring the trails located near the visitor’s center. My son loved practicing his new reading skills by reading the labels on the trees and plants, my daughter loved carrying our map and all the kids had fun walking on the trails.
Near the visitor’s center there are several small gardens you can visit, a traditional Hawaiian hale (pictured here, it has since been completed), and a nice gazebo and adjacent little pond.
We fueled the kids up with a picnic lunch, stopped at the restrooms and then we were off for a grander adventure. We explored a number of the side and loop trails shown on the map and the kids had fun leading the way as we hiked.
Do it yourself on Oahu
Location: 3860 Manoa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822
Directions: Here’s a link to directions and a map.
Hours: Mon-Fri from 8am to 4pm; Sat from 9am to 3pm; Closed holidays
Cost: The arboretum is technically free, but there is a suggested donation that I believe was $5 per person. I think I decided kids were half-price and donated $10 for the three of us but I can’t remember exactly.
Parking: There is a parking lot adjacent to the visitor’s center. If it’s full, wait a bit and hopefully a spot will open up.
Facilities: There are restrooms next to the visitor’s center. There is also a covered pavilion nearby with benches – a nice spot to have a picnic. Oh, and there’s a small gift shop inside the visitor’s center.
Other: All visitors must sign in at the visitor’s center. • I’d recommend you take bug spray no matter what time of year you go. Even in the summer Manoa valley can get a lot of rain, making it a nice place for mosquitos. • You could probably take a jogger stroller on some of the paths here but I think a backpack carrier would be a better choice for little adventurers.
More info: 808-988-0456