Hawaii is known for its tropical flowers, but the orchid isn’t one of them. At the Big Island’s Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, however, over 1,000 of these symmetrical, blossoming beauties create a vibrant greenhouse of color.
The owner of the gardens, Moriyasu Akatsuka, has been skillfully cultivating orchids for centuries here in the mountainside enclave. Considered a master of hybridization, Akatsuka creates orchids that will bloom more frequently and are unlike any others in the world. One orchid, an exceptionally rare type of Paphiopedilum, was found in Thailand and nursed back to health before being displayed here at the garden. Due to its symmetry and singular characteristics, the orchid is valued at $20,000, and travelers who visit between May and September can see it in bloom. Like many of his other unique orchids, this famous plant was given its own name and is now known as the “Volcano Queen” due to its regal home on the mountain.
While all visitors will undoubtedly be impressed by the breadth and size of this collection, orchid lovers and green thumbs will have found their favorite corner of paradise.
The Akatsuka Orchid Garden is 45 minutes south of Hilo in the rural town of Volcano. The showroom is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is a convenient stop when traveling between Hilo and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There is no admission fee for visiting the showroom, although guided tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays cost $35 for adults and $25 for children.