Manoa Valley, home to Lyon Arboretum, is a short hop from the hubbub of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, but it is eons away in terms of state of mind. The university-run botanical garden offers 200 acres of both manicured and wild greenery, with benches to contemplate the wonder of it all and a network of trails to get purposefully lost.
The patio behind the gift shop and visitors center is at a perfect elevation above the floor of the valley—high enough so that the gardens slope downward in the foreground, while the jagged green ridge of the Ko'olau Range rises in the distance. Plantings date from 1918 and some big-boy trees shade a host of flowering trees and shrubs, including plants with leaves the size of surfboards. Lyon's entrance is very near the trailhead for Manoa Falls, a popular tourist trot, and also by the Treehouse Restaurant, a place to bag lunch afterwards. Oahu Trailblazer has deets beginning on page 78.