A Two Island Visit to the U.S. Tropical Paradise of Hawai’i! IV (and final)
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

February 17, 2013

Two shots of the Kahala Hotel’s Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins performing, including involving a young child whose parents had paid Dolphin Quest for the opportunity; two shots of Giant Milkweed (Calotropis gigantea) including a close-up of the flowers; one of the orchid display areas at the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden; Indonesian Ginger (Tapeinochilos ananassae) at the same garden; and the hardiest of gingers (Hedychium gardnerianum) in our Parksville garden here. Below: A final view from the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden—a delicate Iris; our bright blue Ford Mustang in front of our Kona Condo; the tiny island used by a rental Sea-Doo company; a para-sailor about to take off from a boat in the Kona harbour; and finally the surf pounding in at the Royal Kona Resort.

We did not just visit gardens on our two-week visit to Oahu and Hawai’i. One afternoon while on Waikiki we decided to take a bus up to the Kahala Hotel, which we visited in 2008. It was also the hotel where I stayed during a visit to Honolulu in 1977—36 years ago!

The hotel has been considerably expanded of course in over 30 years, but the recreational areas are still very recognizable. We had a lovely outdoor lunch right at the water, and then spent considerable time watching the main ‘feature’ that the Kahala has—a pond (2,400 m2—26,000 sq. ft.) where their Atlantic Bluenose Dolphins prove a major attraction, not just for kids, but adults too. There are also other adjacent ponds with the likes of Stingrays and Turtles. I remember that in 2008, our friend Janet Peaker was totally taken by the Dolphins, but it was getting dark and not only could we not get any decent photos of them, there was no feeding or other activity going on. Just the opposite was the case this year!

As we finished our “lunch” (about 5 PM) most of the beach users began to leave, and hotel staff began removing the various beach furniture, and the (Dolphin Quest) staff began feeding the dolphins. The hotel, through Dolphin Quest, offers various programmes for both children and adults which range from 15 minutes ($125) to one hour ($310). These include swimming with the Dolphins, and being involved in games and feeding. They also offer one-day and one-week (five-day) courses in training Dolphins—cost $700 to $3,250.

We did not take advantage of any of those programmes but we did spend an hour or so trying to get good photos of the Dolphins and some of their interaction with both the Dolphin Quest staff, as well as with a family group who were partaking in one of the programmes. I’ve included a couple of photos that may interest you in this programme.

Before moving on to some more comment about our visit to Kona and Hilo on the Big Island I should mention that one thing we did a lot of while in Waikiki was walking up and down Kalakaua Avenue, which could be called one of two main streets in the Waikiki area. While walking that very beautiful street I noted a shrub planted in some of the many beds that are adjacent to the sidewalk. I was not sure what they were but when I bought a book showing the native flora I quickly realized it was Giant Milkweed or Giant Swallowort (Calotropis gigantea) which is native to India.

Calotropis is used as a traditional medicinal plant with unique properties. Traditionally Calotropis was used alone or with other medicinals to treat common diseases such as fevers, rheumatism, indigestion, cough, cold, eczema, asthma, elephantiasis, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. According to one scientist a dried whole plant is a good tonic, expectorant, depurative, and anthelmintic. The root bark is febrifuge, anthelmintic, depurative, expectorant, and laxative. The powdered root is used in asthma, bronchitis, and dyspepsia. The leaves are useful in the treatment of paralysis, arthralegia, swellings, and intermittent fevers. The flowers are bitter, digestive, astringent, stomachic, anthelmintic and a tonic. Calotropis is also a reputed Homoeopathic drug.

Calotropis yields a durable fiber (commercially known as Bowstring of India) useful for ropes, carpets, fishing nets, and sewing thread. Floss, obtained from seeds, is used for stuffing purposes. Fermented mixture of Calotropis and salt is used to remove the hair from goat skins for production of "nari leather" and of sheep skins to make leather which is much used for inexpensive book-binding. Fungicidal and insecticidal properties of Calotropis were been reported in 1993.

I have included two shots of Calotropis as it grows in the sidewalk beds along Kalakaua Avenue.

Last week I wrote extensively about the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden located near Hilo on the Big Island. I have a couple of photos that I did not include, and thought you might like to see them so am putting them in here this week. Though the Garden has thousands of orchids, I’ve included just one additional shot taken in their area. Also, the Indonesian Ginger (Tapeinochilos ananassae) is just one of many that grow very well in this rainforest valley. I only wish we could grow more of these rather than just the hardy orange/yellow one (Hedychium gardnerianum) we do grow.

The final shot from the Tropical Garden is obviously an Iris, but it was one of the few plants at the garden that did not have a label!

We made our way from Kona to Hilo in our bright blue Ford Mustang on our second last day on the Big Island. In the picture here, it is shown in front of our main-level condo just outside the main (and historic) Kona-Kailua shopping and entertainment area.

Since we had to be out of our Condo by 11 AM on our last day, and our WestJet flight did not leave until virtually 12 hours later, we decided to spend several hours of that time at the nearby Royal Kona Resort. We initially went for lunch, and dined outdoors under cover, quite close to the sea crashing in on the breakwater rocks. While there I took shots of a tiny island a way out off where we were. Only with my telephoto lens were we able to see the labeling on the island. It was a Sea-Doo rental agency that could only be reached by its own little boat from the main Kona pier. Also while we were there a para-sailor came in for a landing on a boat, and then he took off again for more exploration.

We then went shopping at Target, out near the airport, and then ended up driving back through town and re-parking at the Royal Kona Resort again! This time it was dinner in the same outdoor restaurant! And after that we sat in nice comfortable leather chairs and just watched the surf pound in until after it got dark. Then we drove to the airport, turned in our Mustang, and prepared to board our WestJet plane when it arrived (on time) from Vancouver.

By the way, I guess all air travellers, using Economy flights, know that you have to buy your food on board now. On a previous WestJet flight to/from Toronto from Vancouver, I enjoyed a special salad in a special card-board container—two different ones, one on each flight. That was in August 2011. This year, in looking at the food brochure, I noted there were salads shown, but not the same type I had in 2011. I decided to order one, only to be told by the stewardess “Oh, we haven’t had those for six months!” I, of course, asked why then are they still shown in the brochure? Her response was rather silly, partially blaming me for not already knowing this! To which I suggested they could at least put a sticker in saying “No longer available.”

So, I opted for some type of Teriyaki chicken sandwich which to say the least was terrible—a way too much bread and not much chicken. I think there was as much Teriyaki sauce as there was chicken! I left over half the bread. My partner’s sandwich too was classically poor. I would say as far as purchased food was concerned, that of Air Canada on the outbound flight was slightly better than the WestJet offerings on the inbound flight. There is obviously only one answer to this—bring your own food with you, perhaps purchased at a good food market before going to the airport, or buy something at the airport before departure! Nothing could be as bad as the sandwiches from the airlines. Perhaps we should have opted for the greasy hamburgers.

Next week, back to gardening!

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row