Experience Solitude and Nature in Kaneohe at the Friendship Garden

At the start of the Oneawa Hills Trail is a short garden trail that offers a wonderful view of Kaneohe Bay. According to the now defunct Honolulu Advertiser, it’s a “a gem,” with “the best views of Kane’ohe Bay, with only birdsong and bamboo within earshot.”

According to the Friendship Garden website, it is an ideal place for meditation and I can see why. The garden is tucked away in a very quiet Kaneohe community. I can imagine that it would be quite easy to get lost in your thoughts here.

The Friendship Garden. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
I love to photograph steps. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
More steps. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The trail consists of an upper loop and a lower loop. The upper loop is where the action is. Here you will find a bamboo, banyan, and macadamia groves. The garden also houses a Japanese style tea house, stone lantern, and pavilion. There are also some beautiful lava stone platform steps. Another attraction at the garden is a large stone basin that was donated by a Japanese University. The end of the upper loop will bring you to a beautiful lookout point from where you will be able to see Kaneohe Bay. Continue past this lookout point and you will be on the Oneawa Hills Trail.

“Friendship Garden is part of what began in the 1920s as Hawai’i’s first multi-racial community, called Kokokahi (“of one blood”), a place where people of all ethnic backgrounds would come together to live, work and play. It was the inspiration of the Rev. Theodore Richards, who together with his wife, Mary Atherton, acquired the land and built the community.”

The Friendship Garden is open daily during daylight hours and it is free.

Total Time: 15 to 30 minutes.

Explorers: Coty Gonzales and Joel Sabugo.

Directions Friendship Garden Trailhead: From the University of Hawaii you will take the H-1 and take Take Exit 21B for HI-61 N/Pali Highway. Turn left onto HI-83 N/Kamehameha Hwy. Turn right onto Mokulele Drive. Turn right onto Kaneohe Bay Drive. Pass the Camp Kokokahi YWCA on your left and then turn right onto Kokokahi Place. Follow Kokokahi Place to the end until you reach the start of the Friendship Garden. Find parking alongside the road.

Garden walls. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
You’ll find a map of the Friendship Garden here as well as more information about the gardens. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Welcome to the Friendship Garden. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
That’s Joel. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Happy plant. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Joel trekking through the bamboo grove. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Is that a hibiscus? Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Joel at the Friendship Garden’s ridge lookout point. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
The view at the top of the Friendship Garden’s upper loop. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
To access Oneawa Hills, you will need to make your way past the Bamboo Grove and toward the Ridge Lookout on the map. From there, you will walk Mauka and continue on Oneawa Hills.

By Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.

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