The University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa is a hustle and bustle during the academic year, with over 20000 students populating the campus. Unless you are a botany student it is easy to overlook the variety of trees and plants on this lush campus, which a professor planted once to create an outside classroom. For hobby botanists there are websites and maps available of where to find the many hundreds of different species.
University Campus from a different perspective
The campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa offers a pleasant tropical setting not only for the academic world.
On Sundays however, the campus grows quiet, and there are some lots open for general public parking. This is the best opportunity to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this botanical garden like setting with some interesting collections. Due to its proximity to Manoa Valley, which has a slightly cooler and wetter micro climate than the surrounding areas, a visit is particularly pleasant during the summer months. Ever since our kids were born, the campus has been offering a quiet, enjoyable, close to town retreat. And especilally for younger ones, there are many possibilities to either take them along in a stroller and or let them explore and play with all the fascinating nuts, blossoms, seeds, huge leaves (needless to say to be careful as there is always the chance that plants are poisonous) or pods.
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Something for all ages
Along Manoa Stream, there are possibilities for strolling through a Japanese Garden, which has a collection of 50 species including koi, contemplating underneath the Thai Pavilion or admiring architecture, like the Center of Korean studies, which is a replica of a Korean king's throne hall. At the St. John Plant Scientific Lab along Maile Way are numerous species like the colorful Rainbow Shower Tree, or the Blue Marble tree, which is especially appealing due to its numerous bright blue fruits that can be found (and smushed) on the ground in large numbers. Continuing along Hamilton library leads to McCarthy Mall, in the middle of the campus. The wide, shady pathways give ample opportunity for kids to practice riding their bicycles or skateboards in the shade and is the only place, which can get a little crowded on the weekend. It has a fascinating flora with trees like the Fish Poison Tree with 16 in long leaves and puffy white blossoms, Tamarind with its brittle pods that make an interesting crushing sound, or the African Tulip tree with pods, which split open and make perfect little boats. Close to it right next to the Art building stands a huge Baobab or Dead Rat Tree; its fruits are always good for banging, cracking or just dragging along because it looks (and feels a little bit furry) like a – rat. Further down is Krauss building, with the courtyard water garden, a nice little pond with water lilies, fish, and ducks. Right across Dole Street, the Kanewai Cultural Garden of the Hawaiian Studies Center houses a collection of native plants. It is a tranquil place dedicated to preserving Native Hawaiian practices of natural resource management with native trees, taro patches, and a Hawaiian hut.
The campus is not only home to huge exotic trees, some of which are always blooming, but also to sculptures, interesting buildings, or almost always students practicing their guitars, drums, and numerous feral cats. There are plenty of benches and tables to have a snack underneath almond trees, while being surrounded by the wonderful scent of plumerias. Drinking fountains and restrooms as well as snack machines are located in almost every building.