Akatsuka Orchid Gardens is a business that caters to serious gardeners and casual tourists. An oddly diverse clientele, but a seemingly successful business model. Located on Highway 11 halfway between Hilo and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The tour buses shuttling visitors between the cruise ships and the volcano often stop here, as do many tourists traveling the usual island loop.
It is worth the stop. Upon entering you are greeted by a profusion of spectacular blooms. Even with no intent to buy you can enjoy the many spectacular blooms. Orchids are utterly amazing in the variety of flower shapes in an array of intense colors.
Ever popular Cattleya and Dendrobiums make up the bulk of the offerings. But there are other families represented among the bewildering display of flowers.
There is no charge to enter the main showroom to view the many orchids for sale. Many spectacular blooms are simply on display. For a fee they offer a growing operation tour, probably a must for an orchidphile, but the cost was a little steep, $35 per person.
All of the plants for sale are pre-inspected and come with export paperwork. Better yet, you can have your order shipped home to avoid the trouble of passing through the various agricultural inspections. The staff has the shipping procedure down to an art, packaging the delicate plants just so and holding the order so it will arrive after you are home from your vacation.
As long as the gardens are not swarming with tourists, just look for the tour buses, I would recommend stopping. If my home on the dry side were a little more orchid friendly I would probably have dropped a few dollars, it was tempting.