Hawaiian Culture & Botanical Plant Tour | Maui Ocean Center

Park Hours
9 AM - 5 PM

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Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM


explore the unique environment of Maui

How Maui Ocean Center Is Working To Preserve Hawaiian Botanical Plant Life

The Maui Ocean Center offers a unique experience with its native flora and fauna spread across the aquarium. In June of 2023 we launched our Hawaiian Culture & Botanical Plant Tour, a 90-minute tour led by a dedicated naturalist. During this tour visitors will explore the ecological and cultural connections between land and ocean in Hawaiian culture, exemplified by the Kumulipo creation chant. 

Many land plants have counterparts in the ocean, acting as mutual guardians. For instance, the Hāpu‘u tree fern on land corresponds to the giant grouper in the ocean, both sharing the meaning of “plentiful” in Hawaiian. The Alahe‘e plant’s leaves and fruit can create a black dye and are linked to the he‘e (octopus), serving as substitutes for one another in ceremonies. ‘Āweoweo, with soft leaves used for shorebird nests, releases a fishy smell when crushed, reflecting its connection to the Hawaiian bigeye fish.

During this tour, participants will engage in a multi-sensory experience, including smelling pōhinahina leaves, hearing kukui nuts, learning Hawaiian proverbs, and using poi pounding stones. They’ll also taste crops introduced by Polynesian settlers. The tour covers a journey from mountains to sea, highlighting plants like ‘Ōhi’a Lehuna and Naupaka Kahakai, significant in Hawaiian legends and island history.

This tour supports re-planting native coastal vegetation to combat erosion impacting coral reefs. It includes hands-on experiences with kalo (taro root) and a taste of essential crops from the Seascape Restaurant.

The tour is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm, recommended for ages 10+, and requires comfortable closed-toe shoes. Accessibility accommodations can be arranged. The tour costs $34.95 in addition to the general admission fee, and it’s not recommended for children under 10.

Group tour inquiries can be made via email. Maui Ocean Center is committed to sustainability, from rare species propagation to reducing plastic waste, water usage, and carbon emissions, and holds certification from the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawai‘i.

Discover Hawaiian Plants

Ulu (Breadfruit)

Breadfruit was one of the two foods that could replace Kalo as a staple food in certain areas of Hawai’i....

ʻUala (Hawaiian Sweet Potato)

ʻUala, also known as Hawaiian sweet potato, is a starchy root vegetable that has been a staple crop in Hawaiʻi...

Hala (Screwpine, pineapple tree, walking tree)

The hala tree, also known as the screwpine, pineapple tree, or walking tree, is a unique and versatile plant found...

Hau – Sea Hibiscus, Coastal Cottonwood

Hau can be seen growing in low elevation environments in somewhat dry conditions. It is a true hibiscus, meaning it...

Pua Kenikeni (Perfume Flower, Ten Cent Flower)

‘Ōhi‘a ‘ai (Mountain apple)

The ʻōhiʻa ʻai is a member of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and is related to other plants like guava and...


* Minimum of 4 required to run the tour