The region of Oceania covers islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Hawai'i (also in the Regional Guide to USA and Canada), Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Norfolk Island, and out to Easter Island. Although many of these islands are better known for their tropical resorts and water activities, there are also destinations for garden lovers.
Gardens to see and visit among the Pacific's beautiful islands include tropical gardens in Hawai'i, botanical gardens in Tonga, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, exotic resort gardens and garden cafes, as well as the historic gems of Norfolk Island.
"Norfolk Island is a small yet breathtakingly multi-layered place. You can enjoy this sub-tropical gem on a single gorgeous level, such as the scenery, or immerse yourself in it’s mind-blowing history going back to the First Fleet and beyond, incredible food where you talk in food metres not miles, it’s sustainable community and agriculture and more. The more I visit, the more I discover all of which I share on my Norfolk Island tours."
Garden Travel Guide to Oceania and Pacific Islands
Islands of the Pacific and Oceania offer romantic vistas of tropical beaches fringed with lush vegetation. However several of them, such as Norfolk Island and, of course, the Hawai’ian Islands also have fascinating histories, unusual cultural mixes and interesting and quirky gardening styles.
Many of the smaller Pacific Islands, such as Kiribati are very low-lying on coral atolls and are, sadly, already being affected by rising ocean levels caused by climate change. This causes intrusion of seawater into fresh groundwater, more frequent storm events and even summer drought.
Pacific Ocean islands covered in this Regional Garden Travel Guide include Hawai’i, Fiji, Norfolk Island, Tonga, Cook Islands, Samoa, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Climate of Oceania/Pacific Islands
The climate of the many islands in the Pacific Ocean has several influences. Those closer to the equator like Samoa are hotter and more humid than those that are further away, such as Tonga. And, as the islands have a small land mass, the surrounding ocean means that there is much less variation between day and night temperatures.
Rather than experiencing the regular four seasons, Pacific Islands throughout the tropical zone have a wet season from November to April, characterised by brief but heavy rain showers and occasional cyclones (hurricanes) caused by the reverse monsoon trough of the South Pacific Convergence Zone. This is followed by a dry season from May to October. However climate change means that cyclones can occur even during the dry months and, during El Niño years, many of the islands can suffer from months of drought.
Hawai‘ian climate has two main seasons: Ka‘u wela,which is the dry and more sunny season with warm trade winds that dominate the weather from May to October and Ho‘oilo, which is the cooler, and wetter season of rain and storms from November through April.
Those islands with high land masses like Fiji and New Caledonia will often have a rain-shadow area, creating a drier west coast, as the prevailing winds are moisture-laden trade winds from the east and southeast.
For islands outside the Tropics, such as Norfolk Island in the South Pacific, its distance from the Equator and a deep surrounding ocean give it mild temperatures of 18-24°C all-year-round.
Best time to visit gardens in Oceania/Pacific Islands
The dry season from April to October is the preferred season for many travellers to Pacific Islands as it is not quite as hot and humid, and there’s a lesser chance of getting caught up in a tropical cyclone. In April and May, gardens will still have lots of fresh growth from the rainy season but the air is a little cooler and there’s less rain about. July and August are very popular months to visit as it’s in the middle of the dry season, however this can mean there’s not nearly as much water in some of the more spectacular waterfalls and cascades. July also coincides with Australian and New Zealand winter school holidays, making it a very busy time.
Cruises to the Pacific Islands
Many cruises depart during the dry season, taking advantage of the prevailing easterly trade winds. You will experience a smoother cruise travelling westward with the swell, rather than heading from west to east.
Gardens to see and visit in Oceania
Gardens to see and visit in Hawai’i
• Ho`omaluhia Botanical Garden
• Foster Botanical Garden – 14 acres, oldest botanical garden in Hawai’i
• Koko Crater Botanical Gardens – dryland garden with cactus, aloes and succulents
• Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden – native Hawai’ian plants
• Wahiawa Botanical Garden
• Moanalua Gardens
• Halawa Xeriscape Garden
• Lyon Arboretum
• Waimea Valley – waterfall, Hawai’ian plants, cultural displays, Malasian (Papua New Guinea) flora
• Oahu Urban Garden Center – University of Hawaii – turf plots, ecosystem forest, Plumeria (frangipani) collection, subtropical fruit orchard
• National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kaua’i – includes Allerton Garden, McBryde Garden, and Limahuli Gardens and Preserve – historic lava rock terraces and native plants
• Na’Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kaua’i
• Smith’s Tropical Paradise, Kaua’i – 30 acre, tropical orchard, Japanese garden, fern grotto
• Nani Mau Gardens, Hilo – 20 acres of themed tropical gardens, large orchid collection
Hawai’i (Big) Island
• World Botanical Gardens – rainforest garden, spectacular cascade of Kamae’e Falls, children’s maze
• Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden – 40 acres of lush gardens
• Akatsuka Orchid Gardens
• Cultural Gardens at Honolulu International Airport – Japanese, Chinese and Hawai’ian gardens
• Garden of Eden Arboretum, Maui
• Kula Botanical Garden – 8 acre garden, Hawai’ian native plants
• Enchanted Floral Garden, Kula, Maui – 8 acre garden, cafe
Gardens to see and visit in Fiji
• Garden of the Sleeping Giant (Nadi)
• Thurston Gardens (Suva) – old clocktower and summer houses, tropical gardens
• Lavena Coastal Walk – spectacular rainforest and coastal scenery
• Flora Tropica Gardens (Savusavu) – significant palm collection
Gardens to see and visit in Norfolk Island
• Norfolk Island Botanic Garden – featuring the iconic Norfolk Island pines and palms plus other indigenous plants
• No 10 Quality Row – gardens around the historic house built in 1844
• Hilli Restaurant vegetable garden (can be visited as part of the Mastering taste tour)
• Tea Pot Gardens cafe
• Garden tours to Norfolk Island also feature several private gardens
Gardens to see and visit in Tonga
• Ene’io Botanical Garden, Vava’u
Gardens to see and visit in the Cook Islands
• Mare Nui Gardens, Titikaveka – 7 acre tropical garden, lily ponds, mountain views, Hidden Spirit Cafe
Gardens to see and visit in Samoa
• Gardens of the Baha’i Temple in Apia
• Vailima Botanic Gardens – 12ha surrounding the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, Apia
• Pacific Jewell’s Garden Cafe, Apia
• Savai’i – colourful tropical home gardens can be viewed from the street
• Although there is a surrounding garden, the extraordinary natural wonder of the 30m deep (90ft) swimming hole filled with pristine turquoise water formed by the To Sua Ocean Trench on the north side of the island of Upolu about 7km west of Apia is worth seeing for itself.
Gardens to see and visit in New Caledonia
• Gardens at Le Meridien Hotel, Ile des Pins
• Jardin Botanique and Vailleraie, Lifou (one of the Loyalty Islands)
• Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre Noumea – surrounding gardens includes a Melanesian food garden
Gardens to see and visit in the Solomon Islands
• Rarotonga Maire Nui Botanical Gardens – lush tropical gardens with cafe
• Pacific Resort Hotel Rarotonga
• Cooks Oasis Holiday Villas, Arorangi, Rarotonga
Gardens to see and visit in Vanuatu
• The Summit Gardens – largest tropical gardens in the South Pacific, lavastone walls, pavilions, stunning ocean views
• Rainbow Gardens, Port Vila – botanic garden with palms, indigenous medicinal and cultural plants, orchid collection, water gardens
• The Secret Garden, Port Villa – rainforest garden with wildlife
Gardens to see and visit in Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
• Jardin Tau
• Hotel Rapa Nui