Playing around, learning too

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Read boards on the mini-golf course share the history of the islands.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Sunlights strikes a pond at Anaina Hou mini-golf course Sunday.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Read boards on the mini-golf course share the history of the islands.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Signs throughout the course enrich visitors.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Players make their way through the mini-golf course at Anaina Hou on Sunday. The last Sunday of every month is Kama‘aina Sunday, which means free mini golf for kama`aina.

If you need a reason to try the mini-golf course at Anaina Hou Community Park, here’s one everybody will like: free.

The last Sunday of every month is “Kama‘aina Sunday,” which means free mini golf for those who live here and have some identification to prove it.

My wife and I, for the first time, decided to take advantage of this offer and headed there Sunday. A smart choice.

Yes, we had a blast navigating and laughing our way through 18 holes of obstacles that included water hazards, tunnels, twists, turns and of course, chickens, in this botanical garden.

My wife, assisted by a string of errant shots from me, won by a few strokes.

For a free day, it was surprisingly not crowded, which made it even more relaxing on a cool evening. And we enjoyed food and drink afterward in the beautiful setting and chatted with others who said they try the course every “Kama‘aina Sunday”.

But more important than the golf was what we learned along the way. You see, there are signs throughout that highlight the islands and the Hawaiian culture and traditions. It’s a journey through history.

For instance, the fifth hole included this bit of information: “Polynesian Medicine: Early Polynesians applied remedies made from plants, minerals, clay and sea creatures to treat broken bones and cuts, sore throats, digestive problems, pregnancy and more. The native tradition of plant medicine, La‘au Lapa‘au, is still practiced today.”

On the seventh hole, you will learn this: “Hawaiian Spirituality: The ‘aina is the foundation of the native Hawaiian spiritual belief. Nature is loved, respected and honored. There is deep faith in the power of the land to provide physical sustenance and spiritual strength.”

A few holes later, at number nine, is this: “Hawaiian Lei: Today, lei giving is a regular part of many special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, funeral and graduation.”

The tenth hole has this to say: “Sailors Need Citrus: Citrus was first introduced by sailors who stopped in Hawaii to rest and restock their ships during Pacific crossings. Rich in vitamin C, citrus fruits prevent scurvy, a disease commonly suffered due to lack of fresh food on long voyages.”

On 14, you will learn: “Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and has become a favorite for landscaping. The varieties here have origins in China, Japan and the South Pacific Islands.”

As you near the finish, the 16th hole is on “Hula: The Soul of Hawaii”. It goes on to state that “Hula is a sacred celebration of the people’s connection to the ‘aina. Hula tells stories of myths, legends, history and spiritual lessons.”

At 17, you’ll get a lesson on “Agriculture Today. Hawaii’s major export crops are macadamia nut, coffee, chocolate, cattle and specialty tropical fruits. Tropical plants and flowers are the state’s number one agricultural market, valued at $75 million annually.”

Be sure to visit Anaina Hou and try the mini golf, have something to eat, admire the grounds and talk story with friendly staff. It doesn’t have to be on the free day. This nonprofit needs your financial support.

A round of golf is $18.50 or ages 13 and up, $15 for ages 4 to 12 and 3 and under are free.

You’ll leave refreshed, energized, and if you read the signs, wiser, too.

And watch out for the rooster on the 13th hole.

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