National Tropical Botanical Gardens
Tucked away in Lawai Valley, these gardens include lands and a cottage once used by Hawaii's Queen Emma for a summer retreat. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the rambling 252-acre McBryde Gardens to see and learn about plants collected throughout the tropics. It is known as a garden of "research and conservation." The 100-acre Allerton Gardens, which can be visited only on a guided tour, artfully display statues and water features that were originally developed as part of a private estate. Reservations are required for tours of Allerton Gardens, but not for the self-guided tours of McBryde Gardens. The visitor center has a high-quality gift shop with botany-theme merchandise.
Besides harboring and propagating rare and endangered plants from Hawaii and elsewhere, NTBG functions as a scientific research and education center. The organization also operates gardens in Limahuli, on Kauai's North Shore, and in Hana, on Maui's east shore. www.ntbg.org. COST: McBryde self-guided tour $15, Allerton guided tour $35. OPEN: Allerton Gardens tours (by reservation) daily at 9, 10, 1, and 2. Sunset Tour Tues., Thurs., Sat. ($70).