One of the most beautiful places on the island of Oahu is this seldom-visited Japanese temple, built in the middle of the Valley of Temples. There's a complex of Buddhist temples and a cemetery set against a very spectacular landscape: a small pond surrounded by flowers that forms a huge colorful rug surrounded by rolling hills and the bizarre peaks of the Kualoa Mountains.
You can get there by car after paying the entry fee of $2. You'll drive down a A long tree-lined avenue leading to the characteristic Byodo-in Temple, a replica of a Japanese temple, with a very characteristic shape and bright colors. Inside, you'll find the largest wooden Buddha outside of Asia and it's completely covered with gold.
The surrounding hills and covered in striking white crosses to indicate that the place is actually a cemetery. The absence of other tourists makes it an oasis of genuine peace, a small piece of Japan in the heart of Hawaii. If you're on the island, you can't miss it. You can reach the Valley of the Temples directly from the resort of Kanehoe in the Windward Coast, not far from Kailua.
The botanical gardens of Ho'omaluhia can be called the Jurassic gardens. This area was in fact a natural set for some scenes in the Spielberg film Jurassic Park. Admission is free, and the vast park can be accessed easily by car, along charming streets that climb the slopes of the mountains. There are several parking spaces so you can get out and walk along different trails. The most striking is the one that leads you to a beautiful pond, surrounded by animals such as ducks, geese, and pigs. The background is formed by majestic volcanic mountains, steep-walled, smooth, and a reminder of the Jurassic environment.
The natural setting is idyllic: Stroll through countless tropical plants from from Asia, Africa, Polynesia as well as numerous flowers native to Hawaii, including the ubiquitous hibiscus and orchids. Finally, we can take a look at the Visitor Centre, which has maps and information about the park: they don't get a lot of tourists, and the staff will welcome you with great kindness, especially if you've traveled a long way. You can reach the park from the town of Kanehoe but the entrance is not easy to find and the opening times can vary from season to season.