Walk around the parks near Waikiki and you might encounter some interesting trees unique to Hawaii. They tower some 70 or 80 feet in the air, have a tangled web of branches, and roots that hang from the top reaching very close to the ground. The trees are called Banyan Trees.
History of the Banyan
A popular tree found throughout the islands, the Banyans have come to be commonplace against the Hawaiian landscapes. But interesting to know, these famous trees are not native to the area.
The first tree was brought to Hawaii in 1873. It was a gift from the missionaries of India. Planted in Lahaina, on the island of Maui, the tree commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission to Lahaina.
Now, there are many banyans that have sprouted up all across the islands.
Some Waikiki Banyans
Some of the trees you can see by venturing not too far from our hostel. Go across the street and you’ll find one standing right in front of Honolulu Zoo. There’s many more inside the zoo as well as the rest of Kapiolani Park.
One of the more famous trees is located inside the International Marketplace. More than 160 years old, the tree took root before the Marketplace was even constructed. Kiosks and shops were built around it. And now, visitors can sit at the base and admire its grandeur.
Inside the Moana Surfrider Hotel is another banyan that was planted in 1904. Housed by Waikiki’s first hotel, this tree stands about 75 feet high and its branches cover about 150 feet of Moana’s courtyard. Take a peek at this one by entering either through the beachside or the front lobby of the hotel.
Take a stroll down the main strip to Kuhio Beach and you’ll find one near the Duke Statue next to the road. Just behind the tree is a hula mound where Hawaiian dances are performed three times a week. Enjoy sunsets, great music, and chirping birds, all at the same time.
And there’s so many more as you venture outside Waikiki too. Downtown. Iolani Palace. North Shore. Big Island.
The Largest Banyan
Out of all the Banyan Trees in Hawaii, the largest one still stands in Lahaina, Maui. This one was first introduced to Hawaii in 1873.
The tree was only 8 feet tall when planted, but is now over 60 feet tall. Its branches have spread out sprouting new roots that have descended to the ground. This has now created 16 trunks surrounding the main trunk. The canopy of branches and leaves covers just over a half-acre.
The Lahaina Banyan Tree is not only the largest tree in Hawaii but also in the United States. If you’d like to visit the famous tree, you can find it in a 1.94-acre park known as Banyan Tree Park, located at the corner of Front Street and Canal Street in Lahaina.