Kauai’s Menehune Garden

In May 1962, the Menehune Garden was opened by Mr. and Mrs. Melvin (1909-1989) and Sarah Kailikea (1911-2004) for guided public tours on their two-acre estate — located at Papalinahoa, Kauai, alongside the intersection of Nawiliwili and Kanoa roads and adjacent to property that in 1976 would become the site of Banyan Harbor Resort.

For the price of a small admission fee, Sarah Kailikea conducted excursions through Menehune Garden, whereby visitors got to examine several types of sugar cane, eight varieties of bananas, and coconuts — all of which were cultivated by her in the garden.

She gave them samples of the sugar cane and the bananas in season as well, and after demonstrating how to open a coconut, presented them with pieces of it, also.

Kailikea, nee Malina, a Hawaiiana expert born at Kipu, Kauai, likewise grew a number native Hawaiian medicinal plants in Menehune Garden that tourists would examine while she explained their curative properties.

Additionally, guests were shown a little village comprised of huts constructed by her and her husband, a tour driver, with four different native materials by methods as was done in old Hawaii.

“Aunty Sarah” Kailikea — knowledgable of ancient Hawaiian religious practices, chants, hula, legends and language — also exhibited various replica Hawaiian gods and explained their significance, sang and chanted in the Hawaiian language, danced hula and introduced her guests to Hawaiian games.

At the close of her tour, she guided tourists to the giant banyan tree planted in 1895 by sugar planter George Norton Wilcox, which dominated Menehune Garden and is now the property of Banyan Harbor Resort.

For many years, she was the guardian of Wilcox’s banyan tree and was successful in 1976 in having the tree declared exceptional by Kauai County authorities, thereby giving it legal protection.

Menehune Garden closed in 1992.

Melvin and Sarah Kailikea had two sons, Melvin and Malcom Kailikea, and a daughter, Leila Christensen.

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