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“Rounding out your visit to Oahu”
Review of Lyon Arboretum

Lyon Arboretum
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Go Oahu Card
Ranked #49 of 324 things to do in Honolulu
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Part of the University of Hawaii, the Lyon Arboretum offers 194 acres and a research facility.
Burke, Virginia
Level Contributor
97 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 184 helpful votes
“Rounding out your visit to Oahu”
Reviewed 17 February 2014

When visiting Oahu, everybody goes to Waikiki to shop and eat, and to the beautiful beaches all around the Island. Waikiki is about as far from the old "real" Oahu as you can get. It is more like Tokyo or New York City on steroids than old Oahu. No sense crying about that. It has happened. So we make the best of it.

LUCKILY, one can find ways of getting a bit closer to what Oahu once was by:
1) going to the cultural centers of Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum to learn of the history of the island.
2) visiting the Western shore of the Island and going to the Makaha and Yokohama beaches, which, where many locals go.
3) taking a long and inexpensive ride on the No. 2 bus, say between Waikiki and the Bishop museum, and seeing the Oahu middle class going to and from work. THis is a fun trip. If you take public transportation in New York City, you may not hear anyone talk to a stranger, but on the No. 2 bus, you will hear lots of conversations among the locals. If you ask the bus driver to tell you when to get off, you may well have struck up a conversation with three or four locals sitting around you. MUCH FUN.
4) Eat traditional Hawaiian food at a restaurant like Helena's. It is near the Bishop Museum, and it a treasure.
5) See what deep forests of Oahu look like by visiting the Lyon Arboretum.

I loved this place. It is a big time adventure that has a personal feel. When we arrived by car, the parking lot was full. My wife asked someone at the little park headquarters for advice. He went over and moved a truck so we could park.

I read that you should buy bug spray for the walk in the woods so I asked the lady who runs the little store for some. She handed me a can, and said, "Here, just use this." VERY NICE! Pleasant surprises are always nice.

THERE IS NO CHARGE for admission. There is a money jar. I put $10 in for my wife and I. The lady said "Thank you", and sounded like she really meant it. I loved this "small time" feeling of the management of the place. The few people who work there were extremely nice and personable. The rest rooms looked more like home than those of a visitor site. The place is immaculately taken care of.

I had read that it is hard to follow the trails in the park. Well, there is the main trail and some shorter smaller trails. The main trail is paved with stones, so it is impossible to get lost on it. We didn't take the smaller trails. The main trail ends at a waterfall. This is not a difficult hike. There are signs on interesting trees. There are beautiful birds. There are beautiful vistas. There is peace and quiet. I almost got the feeling I was back in old Oahu, but that was more of a romantic notion.

The Lyon Arboretum is a wonderful counterpoint to the the hyper-touristy feeling of downtown Waikiki. When you take the hike, you might not see more than one or two other people. You can "become one with nature" with at this cathedral of flora.


NOTE: other reviewers have also pointed this out. The drive up to the arboretum ends with a long, very narrow, curving road. Take it slow and carefully. You will encounter tourists walking two or three abreast, oblivious to your car. These folks are at probably going to another attraction which has a parking lot about a mile before you get to the Lyon Arboretum.

Also note that you should wear shoes or sneakers for the hike on the main trail. It is a bit rocky. You couldn't take a stroller or a wheelchair on that path. However, it is not difficult. My wife and I are senior citizens, and we had no problem with it.

Visited February 2014
10 Thank Mel M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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323 reviews from our community

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English first
Sacramento, California
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Visit to Lyon Arboretum”
Reviewed 13 February 2014

While visiting family in Oahu my coysin took me to Lyon Arboretum. It was absolutely beautiful. The guide was very informative.

Visited May 2013
Thank Ndiolle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
40 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Botanical Rainforest Valley”
Reviewed 12 February 2014 via mobile

We enjoyed our visit to this beautiful botanical oasis near the heart if a major tourist metropolis. The parking was free but somewhat tight and limited. We received a good orientation by a volunteer at the information centre and a small map to guide us. Wear sturdy hiking shoes as the main trails and many side trails are uneven and rocky/ gravelly with roots and other obstructions. Initially many of the plant specimens are labelled but there needs to be a major effort put into increasing and updating the signage. Use the washroom facilities at the info centre as there are no other facilities along the trails. Bring water and binoculars to observe the many birds on site. The shama thrushes were quite approachable and the cockatoos were very noisy as they flew about in the tree canopy. At the end of the main trail there is a small waterfall but we learned from others that it was at a small trickle and the trail was steep and too muddy for the footwear we had. A nice visit.

1 Thank Rick W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacramento, California
Level Contributor
255 reviews
117 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
“Excellent, especially in combo with Manoa Falls hike”
Reviewed 9 February 2014

May be the best garden in the area. The road up is narrow, and the parking lot is small. Once you are up there and parked, you can wander around for hours. The developed and undeveloped areas are great, and you can walk down the hill to the Manoa Falls, which is an amazing hike.

Visited January 2014
3 Thank micchio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York
Level Contributor
47 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Gorgeous hike into the rainforest”
Reviewed 2 February 2014

I love visiting botanical gardens and this one was very special. There are trails going through different sections, into the mountains with a supposed waterfall at the end, I didn't see it, it was too dry. But nonetheless it's amazing to see the diversity of ecosystems on the island and see this jungle so close to the beach, with birds singing and clouds floating through the tops of the mountains. I highly recommend making a trip here and taking a relaxed hike, would just advise to be aware that the mosquitos can come out, so bring some bug spray.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank ABee_NYC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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