Christmas Tree Hunting in Hawaii at Helemano Farms

On the mainland, it’s not uncommon for families to go to a Christmas tree farm to choose a Christmas tree to bring home and then decorate. In Hawaii, not so much. Here, we are usually stuck with whatever local stores have sitting inside Matson shipping containers. These are Christmas trees that are shipped to us from the mainland. SPAM is not the only thing thats coming to us from Minnesotta, our Christmas trees do too. So I was taken by surprise and became very enthused when I learned of a local Christmas tree farm that was just a thirty minute drive away. A tropical island in the middle of the Pacific … with a Christmas tree farm? Yep.

Helemano Farms started in 2002 as an agriculture project by Mike O’Brien. Shortly after, Mike had planted more than 15,000 Norfolk Pines with the idea of offering locally grown Christmas trees to Hawaii residents. Unfortunately, O’Brien passed away before seeing his dream come true. In 2005, Helemano Farms kept O’Brien’s dream alive by offering fresh Norfolk Pines to Hawaii residents.

“Originally from Australia’s Norfolk Island, the Norfolk pine came to Hawaii in the 19th Century. Norfolks can grow more than 150 feet tall! At Helemano Farms, we have thousands of Christmas trees from 5 to 20 feet tall. When cut down, Norfolks stay green, healthy and gorgeous for more than a month and do not turn brown like Christmas trees shipped to Hawaii. We carefully cut our Norfolks so a new tree grows from each stump! Real Christmas trees are better for our environment than artificial trees.”

Intent with supporting a local business, my wife and I decided to forego a K-Mart tree for one that was born from Hawaiian soil. The drive out to Wahiawa was only spoiled by the, now recurrent, Sunday traffic on the H1. Once we hit the H2, it was smooth sailing. Helemano Farms is located in Whitmore Village, just before a military checkpoint gate.

Once at the farm, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from Norfolk Pines or Leyland Cypress trees. Just behind the main building will be a field of Leylands, however, you’ll notice that many of them have already been cut down. We scoured this section and didn’t find one that we liked. We were a bit bummed and were now contemplating a trip to K-Mart. Resistant, we decided to take a walk through the Norfolk Pines on the right of the building. At the end we found a second batch of Leylands, many of which were still intact. Not too long after, we found our tree. It was the most symmetrical, to our eyes at least, and had the best potential for attaching a tre topper. It had character, namely an extremely long branch that sort of grew upwards like an awkwardly extended arm. That didn’t matter because this was our tree and it was a great tree. It was our first Christmas tree as husband and wife.

Directions to Helemano Farms: From the H1 Freeway: Take H2 Freeway north, then take Wahiawa Exit 8, which leads to Kamehameha Highway. Take Kam through Wahiawa Town, go over the bridge, then turn right on Whitmore Avenue. Follow Whitmore Avenue for 1.8 miles through Whitmore Village. Turn right just before the military checkpoint.

You choose your tree and they’ll cut and bag it for you. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

You pay based on tag color. The tag color represents the tree height. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Norfolk Pines. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Interesting tree top. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Up close. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A 6 foot tree. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Michelle checking out the Leyland Cypress Trees. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Field of trees. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This turned out to to be one of my favorite photos of the day. Baby trees growing in the foreground. While the sun sets over the Waianae Mountain Range in the background. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Focus. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Perverted Christmas Tree Hunter. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

We found our tree. Oh, and object permanence in practice. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Next step, cut it down. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Next step, bag it. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Hard Worker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

And here’s the final product! Photo by Coty Gonzales.

About Coty

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

One comment

  1. We made the trip this year too and got a tree! It was so beautiful and the experience was amazing. Everyone was helpful and we left with the perfect tree. Can’t wait to go back again. 🙂

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