Visit This Hawaiian Nature Preserve To Feel Like You've Stepped Into The World Of Avatar

The 2009 James Cameron film "Avatar" made just under $3 billion at the box office, so it's pretty likely that you've seen it. The world of Pandora and the Na'vi who live there captured audiences around the world, with its lush rainforests and floating islands. While a lot of the film was created with digital effects, some of it was filmed in Hawai'i. Some of the non-CGI scenes were shot in a stunning location on the island of Kauai. It's a place you can actually visit, and it's close to a filming spot from "Jurassic Park" as well. 

This lovely and fertile place is the Keahua Forestry Arboretum, on the Wailua River, in Wailua on the east side. There is a lot to see here, and plenty of places to relax and take in the scenery. There's also swimming, hiking, lovely trees, and cooler temperatures than you'll find at the beach. Let's check out Keahua Forestry Arboretum, what you can see there, and where its trails will lead you. 

What to know about Keahua Forestry Arboretum

One of its virtues is that the Keahua Forestry Arboretum is free to enter. It's the Wailua part of the 12,500 acre Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve. To get in, you're going to have to cross a spillway. However, if the weather isn't great, it could be flooded, so keep that in mind and exercise caution — this is a rainforest, after all. The Arboretum itself is 30 acres and has 20 different varieties of trees, including Monkeypod, Mango trees, and the colorful Rainbow Eucalyptus, which you can even see across from the parking lot. You can stroll the grounds there, taking in the flora and fauna, and listen to the running of the Wailua River. 

The river has formed two pools, with water that is rather cool. If you take the short Kuilau Trail loop inside the park, you'll find a swimming hole with a rope swing. There are pavilions and picnic tables all over so it's the perfect rest stop if you bring your lunch. Keep in mind that because this is a rainforest, there are going to be mosquitos, so bug spray is a must. There are also composting toilets, so at least you don't have waste disposal to worry about. The trails also allow you to hike as well as mountain bike. 

Trails you can take starting from Keahua Forestry Arboretum

There are plenty of trails that start in the Arboretum, including the Kuilau Ridge Trail which is 1.5 miles long. If you continue along this trail, it will take you to Moalepe Trail and some waterfalls. You'll also get a view of Mount Waialeale. If visiting movie sites is your thing, you can hike from the Arboretum to a "Jurassic Park" shooting spot. It's the Jurassic Park Gate, which is 3.5 miles away, and though it's only the cement poles now, it's still a stunning spot to take pictures. If you want something more challenging, you can take a trail to the Blue Hole, a crater that sits under Mount Waialeale. This one is going to have you crossing streams and dealing with mud, though you'll see waterfalls here as well. 

If you're looking for something shorter, you can take the Kuilau Ridge Trail with views of Mount Waialeale and Kawakii. Another popular hike is the Powerline trail. It's 13 miles long and you'll end up in Princeville. Aloha!