With tropical greens and magnificent ocean vistas that will take your breath away, a visit to the Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden is a walk through paradise. National Geographic Traveler magazine named it one of “50 Places of a Lifetime.” In terms of Kauai activities, this is a not to be missed opportunity.
Located near our Poipu vacation rentals and past Spouting Horn, these gardens are where Queen Emma had her summer cottage and notables like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis came to stay. They have been transformed through time by ancient Polynesian explorers, touched by Hawaiian royalty, later owned by a family rooted in sugar, and then cared for by a philanthropist and his architect partner.
In popular culture these spectacular gardens captured the attention of Hollywood. You saw Johnny Depp here in Pirates Of The Caribbean and the exotic fig trees in the Allerton Garden were featured in Jurassic Park.
More importantly, however, the Kauai gardens are a living laboratory where you can see the largest collection of native Hawaiian plants in existence, including palms, flowering trees, heliconias, and orchids in a conservation program.
Garden History. Throughout this beautiful Lawai Valley, there are indications of traditional Hawaiian archaeological sites. The historic property was purchased from Queen Emma’s estate by the McByrde family in the 19th century and used as a sugar plantation. In the 1930′s, philanthropist Robert Allerton acquired the property and with architect partner, John Gregg Allerton, built a home and transformed the plantation to a garden of rooms with interconnecting pathways.
Before Robert died he donated money to buy land next to his property which eventually became known as the McByrde Garden. It was the first garden in what is now called the National Tropical Botanical Gardens (NTBG). Upon his partner’s death, the Allerton Garden joined this collection. Today NTBG includes the Lumahuli Garden on the North Shore of Kauai just beyond our Hanalei vacation rentals, and the Kahanu Garden on Maui.
Interesting Fact: These are among the only tropical gardens with a charter from the United States Congress.
Suggestions for planning your visit: Start at the Visitor Center where you’ll find information on both gardens. A tram will take you to each one. We suggest you begin the morning at Allerton Garden which is a 2.5 hour guided tour ($45 for adults). Take a break using our Kauai dining tips for an oceanfront lunch. In the afternoon you can return for the 90 minute self-guided tour of the McBryde Garden ($15.00 for adults) or enjoy the guided tour ($25 for adults). If that’s too much for one day, you can split your visit over your Kauai vacation. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and use mosquito repellant.
Best Buy: Purchase a $70 pass which has no expiration, can be used on multiple days, and includes entrance to Limahuli Garden on the North Shore and Kahanu Garden on Maui. This pass has to be purchased at the Visitor Center. You’ll also receive a guided tour of the Allerton Garden and a self-guided tour of the McBryde.
Splurge with a Sunset Tour: Includes a visit to the Allerton estate as a private guest, appetizers to enjoy and selection of beverages on the lanai while watching a spectacular Kauai sunset ($70 for adults).
For more information on tours, see the website for The National Tropical Botanical Gardens. After you visit the Allerton and McBryde Gardens we invite you to share your experiences. Mahalo!