The Big Islands Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is 17 acres of lush greenery, with pathways inviting visitors to explore. The garden began taking shape in 1977, when the land was purchased by a couple from San Francisco. Over eight years, they cleared paths through what was thick jungle, and in 1984 they opened the garden to the public. It's now run by a nonprofit.
The botanical garden and nature reserve includes waterfalls and streams among more than 2,000 species of plants. One side of the property is on Onomea Bay, where there's a boardwalk overlooking the ocean. The garden is home to some wildlife, too, including geckos, frogs, and several types of local birds.
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is located 7 miles north of Hilo on the scenic route off Route 19. It's open daily from 9am-5pm (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day), and the last admission is at 4pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-16.