Hawaiians have a connection to the land and sea that starts at the very beginning for locals. Spending any amount of time in Hawaii will make it clear just how important nature is to native Hawaiians. There’s a long cultural history of caring for nature that exists through many avenues, including preservation, enchanting botanical gardens that can be found on many of the islands, and aloha ‘aina.
Aloha ‘aina is commonly translated as “love of the land”, but it has a much deeper and heartfelt meaning to many. The ‘aina means much more than simply sand or dirt, it denotes a deep emotion carried from ancestral times when all people lived as an integral part of nature. Humans considered nature a sibling born from the same parents when time began. Humans depended on nature to thrive and therefore always gave it the respect and love it deserved.
Aloha is often defined as affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, civility, kindness, charity, and hospitality. It is a love that extends to all with good will and it is given without restraint or for want of anything in return. And so people were taught aloha ‘aina, aloha kai, “love the land, love the sea” and only take what you need.
This belief and tradition extend to the present day, in which visitors and experience the love and care that many locals still put into nature with lovingly maintained botanical gardens. Some of the best botanical gardens to visit follow.
HO’OMALUHIA BOTANICAL GARDENS
Ho’omaluhia translates to “a peaceful refuge”. The 400-acre Oahu botanical garden surrounded by the Koolau Mountains definitely fits the title. The gardens were designed in 1982 to create flood protection and it features plants from the Americas, Africa, India, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Hawaii. The lake offers catch-and-release fishing in the large lake and is ideal for lazy afternoons in the sun.
Waimea Valley covers nearly 2,000 acres and features the 45-foot-tall Waimea Falls. The ancient ruler of Oahu, Kamapuaa, named it the “Valley of the priests” because native Hawaiian high priests and their descendants lived in and cared for the valley for centuries. The park is now home to thousands of tropical, native, and endangered plants. Visitors can explore the trails and swim in the falls.
FOSTER BOTANICAL GARDENS
Foster Botanical Gardens is nestled right in the center of Honolulu, and offers a bit of piece from the bustle of city life. The park is 14 acres and is the county’s oldest botanical garden with a large collection of tropical plants and trees. They also house an outdoor butterfly garden and a prehistoric flora collection. One of the greatest lures is the amorphophallus titanum plant, also known as the corpse plant.
Love of the land is a hallmark of Hawaiian culture and it’s easy to get involved and help preserve the nature that has been so vital for hundreds of years. For more information and other great places to visit on Oahu please visit Ola Properties today.