Wondering what to do in Kauai – for natural and sculpted beauty, go to Na Aina Kai (“Lands by the Sea”) Botanical Gardens in Kilauea. It has quite a history. Opened to the public in 2000, it is 240 acres of unfolding artistic creations, both natural and man-made, all a result of the vision of its founders, Ed and Joyce Doty.
Starting in the late seventies when Ed and Joyce Doty decided to “retire” on Kauai they bought a twelve acre house lot on the bluff in Kilauea. There they started designing their home and large backyard. For twenty years that “backyard” evolved to include several very large projects. The first was a Poinciana Maze where one may wonder without getting very lost. It incorporates “surprises” for the visitor around every corner.
The second was the Ka’ula Lagoon which took three years to build and includes a Japanese-style tea-house overlooking the water.
In 1991 the Dotys designed and incorporated the International Desert Garden into the last section of their “backyard.”
Then in 1994, as an anniversary present to her husband, Joyce Doty purchased “Valentine”, the first life-size bronze sculpture to be placed in the garden. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who took these photos, posed in front of this intricate piece of art when they toured the garden a few years ago. It sits under a large banyan tree and elicits an appreciation for love at any age.
Hear what the Dotys had to say about the day this sculpture arrived at their property. It gives you a glimpse into their individual personalities.
With these three large projects complete, along with their home and swimming pool, the Dotys decided to buy the large plantation lot next door so they could continue their artistic and horticultural vision. With that came the planting of 60,000 hardwood trees (mostly teak) over a period of four years. These trees were an investment in the future as the wood from the forest will eventually help fund the garden.
More land meant more space for outdoor art. The extensive collection of life-sized, limited edition bronze sculptures, like “Valentine”, began. Today there are over 160 of these pieces placed purposefully around the beautiful gardens!
Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens opened to the public in the year 2000. Since then large areas have been developed for entertainment and education. First the Children’s Garden was built which includes wonderful mosaics, a jungle tree-house, a gecko shaped children’s maze, numerous play areas, and, of course, a Jack and the Beanstalk bronze sculpture and fountain. Special “Keiki Days” are one Saturday a month.
Then, to reflect the islands’ heritage, a quarter acre piece of land was turned into an ancient Hawaiian village which depicts a miniature ahupua’a (a Hawaiian land division which runs from the mountains to the sea).
Just recently a Horticulture Amusement Garden and Navajo Compound were added to this magnificent property and there is no telling what new and innovative projects are projected for the years to come. Sadly, Ed passed away a few years ago, but there is no indication that Joyce is slowing down anytime soon. Her continued contribution to Kauai is invaluable. Visiting her garden is a treat that should not be missed.
For a ten minute tour of the garden and sculpture park, watch this video with exquisite footage of the property:
Na Aina Kai Tours are conducted Tuesday through Friday only. Tours begin and end with a visit to the Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop. They range in length from 1 1/2 to 5 hours. There are seven walking and/or riding tours available. Depending upon the tour you choose, you will travel to one or more of the diverse destinations within this 240 acre Botanical Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Tours are conducted by knowledgeable volunteer guides. All tours are guided and suitable for children 13 years of age and older. Children younger than 13 will enjoy one of their “Under the Rainbow” Children’s Garden Family Tours. Family tours must be pre-arranged.
Reservations are recommended for all tours.
Prices range from $35 to $85 per person, depending on the tour you choose.
For more information and photos of the garden, or for a list of offered tours, check out Na Aina Kai’s website at http://naainakai.org/
4101 Wailapa Road
Kilauea, HI 96754
South from Honu Point Vacation Rental, Princeville, drive approximately 6.5 miles and take the second left turn past the 22 mile-marker onto Wailapa Road. At the end of the half-mile road, enter through the iron gate and park next to the Orchid House Visitor Center.
Na Aina Kai, a not-for-profit organization, strives to …
• Ensure its future sustainability through investment in forestry. And share what we learn to encourage others to invest in forestry for Hawaii’s future.
• Practice natural resource conservation based on sound scientific principles.
• Preserve the land and natural resources for future generations of visitors from the Hawaiian Islands and around the world.
• Provide an ever-evolving array of natural wonders and human-crafted artistic creations.
• Offer enchanting venues for private, corporate, and cultural events.
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