Kahanu Garden in Hana serves as the guardian for an important archaeological site, the enormous, centuries old stone temple known as Pi'ilanihale Heiau. A 500-acre natural sanctuary with vast, well trimmed lawns, this National Tropical Botanical Garden preserves an entire stretch of gorgeous coastal land.
Two distinct garden areas deserve separate mention. One is its small forest of breadfruit trees. Kahanu Garden maintains the world's largest collection of this important food crop of the Pacific. Because it contains 130 distinct varieties gathered from 20 tropical island groups, this collection serves as a "germplasm repository" for a culturally important plant whose variety reflects untold generations of human history.
Distinct from this collection is the Canoe Garden, an assemblage of all the useful plants that the early Polynesian settlers brought to Hawaii and depended on for the prosperity of Maui Nui's native culture.
As with the breadfruit collection, the intent here is to preserve the genetic diversity of these plants - 40 different types of ko, or sugar cane, for example, and many unusual types of mai'a, or banana. Other culturally important plants gathered from the surrounding countryside and preserved here include 'uala (sweet potato) kalo (taro), ulena (turmeric), and wauke (paper mulberry, used to make kapa cloth).
Self-guided tours are available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The tour is 1/2 mile long and takes about 1 1/2 hours. There is a $10.00 per person fee and reservations are not required. Children 12 yrs. and under free.