Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Allerton Gardens, Kauai, Hawaii

When traveling for fun and relaxation, we all ask for "a room with a view". How about when the room IS the view? At the Allerton Gardens, on the south shore of Hawaii's island of Kauai, that's how it is! Robert Allerton and his adopted son John Gregg purchased a piece of land in the Lawai River valley in the late 1930s and transformed an already gorgeous tropical setting into a series of garden rooms, filled with everything from manicured gardens to tropical forests, bubbling fountains to enclosed rooms with sculptures and gazebos.

We first visited these marvelous gardens a decade ago and toured the gardens again a couple of months ago when we were on vacation. There is a new visitor center, instead of the old trailer that was there before, and the gardens have remained beautiful, just as Allerton intended.

The lush, tropical Lawai River valley was part of the Hawaiian royal family's estate, a favorite retreat for Queen Emma in the mid- to late-1800s. The McBrydes, a significant plantation family on Kauai, obtained the valley from the queen around 1890.  Today, the McBryde estate is part of the National Tropical Gardens Trust, the larger section being the McBryde Botanical Gardens, the rest is the Allerton Gardens.

Over the past half-century, Allerton Gardens has been the location of choice for a number of Hollywood blockbusters -- South Pacific, Jurrasic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. All that aside, this is a wonderful tropical excursion, worthy of spending an afternoon to experience what Hawaii was like many years ago.

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