Scents of Kauai ~ Embracing Exotic Flowers

Kauai Pink Hibiscus Exotic Flower

One of the most enchanting things about Kauai are the flowers.    Tropical flowers are so … exotic!   They have scents that are so different to the flowers I grew up with in Europe.     In the UK we have beautiful wildflowers, gorgeous Roses, exquisite sweetpeas and Geraniums and some of those have scents, especially the Rose of course… but Kauai’s Exotic flowers  that smell simply divine are in a class by themselves.

And it’s impossible to capture!    It’s all about the scent, so it’s all about the senses.    Just stepping off the plane on the first night I arrived on Kauai, it was like a warm hug with the gentle wind and the scent of plumeria caressing our travel weary bodies.    That’s just the beginning.     So let’s begin with that most famous of Hawaii flowers:  the Plumeria.

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Plumeria ~ one of Kauai’s Exotic Flowers


With the most delicate of scents, the Plumeria invites you in to drink of its beauty:  some are all white petals with deep yellow in the center, some are pink with deeper pink or white in the center, some yellow with white or pink in the center but all are enchanting.   The scent of the   The Plumeria tree grows all over Kauai and is the flower you most often see worn in the hair.   On the right side if you are still single, on the left if you are married.   The Hawaiians wear flowers in their hair a lot and I always smile when I see it.


Pua Keni Keni

The most fragrant of Kauai’s flowers, Pua Keni Keni is so sensual and I mean that in the sense that it is so intoxicating that it’s though your senses expand to heights that you may never have experienced before!   At least that’s what I experience!   This beautiful flower grows on medium size trees and starts out white which slowly turns to a deep yellow color as it blossoms.   The deeper the color, the more the fragrance envelops you in its sumptuous aroma.      Enough with the metaphors.   It’s my second favorite scent on Kauai.

Exotic Kauai PuaKenikeni

Most Exotic and Fragrant Kauai Flower

Puakenikeni is a sacred tree in many cultures.  Tahitian legend tells that the Tane, God of the Forests, first brought the divine Puakenikeni to Tahiti.    The name however speaks to something more ordinary:  Pua (flower) and Keni (dime or 10 cents)  because that’s how much the flowers cost back in the 1930s when the flower was very popular and many Leis were made from its aromatic flowers.


Bird of Paradise

The Stunning Bird of Paradise is the very essence of exotic:  pointed firm orange petals against purple and red and the green of the lush leaves….. you can be forgiven for thinking that you truly are in paradise looking at this most spectacular of Kauai’s Exotic Flowers.    It’s just impressive isn’t it?   And it’s big which is probably why it is used as a centerpiece of many a flower decoration.

Kauai Bird of Paradise

Kauai’s Exotic Flowers: Bird of Paradise


The fragrant Gardenia is found all over Kauai these days.    And what a blessing it is.   You may be walking along in Hanalei or Poipu or any other of the delightful towns and suddenly your senses are pleasantly acosted by this lovely lady.    It seems restaurants and shopping ares have been planted with this delightful flower.

I can’t ever drink in the scent of the Gardenia without thinking of Billie Holliday, the amazing Blues Singer who always wore one in her hair.    Beautiful!

Exotic Gardenia

Gardenia Kauai

Red Ginger

The Red Ginger is one of Kauai’s (and Hawaii’s) most recognizable tropical flowers.   Even so, the first time you see one nestled amongst the tropical green backdrop… it’s quite stunning.   This one is reaching for the sky but sometimes they are bending over to the ground or seem to be hanging upside down.    Large, lush and gorgeous, the Red Ginger is a sight to behold.

Red Ginger kauai

Vibrant Red Ginger
Exotic Kauai Flower

The Crown Ginger is red also and even more impressive some would say… a huge bulb with a crown around it…. quite a stunner.

White Ginger

Whilst the Red Ginger has “the looks” as it were, the native Hawaii White Ginger has all the scent;

White Ginger

Exotic Kauai Flowerdelicate and delicious.   Much smaller petals that do not last as long, the scent and simplicity of the White Ginger enthralls the senses.   I love coming across them in the morning when the scent seems to be at its height and just breathing in that lovely fragrance.  Ahhh!


Yellow Hibiscus Kauai

Kauai’s Exotic Yellow Hibiscus

The celebrated Hibiscus Flower comes in many different colors; I caught this one in Princeville one day at the Bali Hai Villas Resort.    So delicate, the sun streaming through shows just how delicate the Hibiscus is.    This delicate flower makes amazing tea (Red Hibiscus is usually used for that) and this again, is a favorite for the beautiful Hawaiian women to wear in their hair.


Night Blossoming Jasmine

Night Blossoming Jasmine

Intoxicating Night Blossoming Jasmine

One of my favorite experience of the senses is to open a screen door on Kauai, step out and not even walk a pace before being enveloped in the intoxicating and delicious scent of night blossoming Jasmine.  Oh my!   So heady, strong and somehow even more enchanting when the scent reaches your being from the dark of the night.    I absolutely love it.   Can you tell?

The small, delicate white flowers are so beautiful too.   It’s rather amazing that these small flowers are able to expand their wonderful scent over such a large area…. but it’s true that the scent is sensed up to 500 feet away.   Thanks and credit to the UK Telegraph for this image.


Although not a Native of Hawaii, the Tuberose is my favorite flower on Kauai.   The Hawaiian name for this most divine scent is Kupaloke and it has been shown to lower stress for those lucky enough to be anywhere near the Tuberose.  Its scent, in addition to being intoxicating to the point of bliss, lasts a long time.

The Hawaiians say it’s the “scent of Angels”  and who am I to disagree.   The first time I encountered the scent of the Tuberose I was literally stopped in the moment : the scent came across my senses and consciousness and I froze and kept absolutely still so I could determine from whence came that intoxicating, enchanting, entirely magical scent.       My eyes fell on the Tuberose and I thought… oh my, this is heaven.

Tuberose Exotic Kauai FLower

Tuberose ~ Scent of the Angels

I have often thought if someone could bottle the actual scent of the Tuberose, they could make a lot of money.   I have come across a couple of attempts.. but whilst Jasmine seems to work as an Essential oil or distilled version, I have not come across anything that captures the essence of Tuberose.

Apparently they originate in Mexico; I’m not sure if this is true.  My scan of the web came up with Mexico and other places.    No matter.   I’m eternally grateful for the magnificent Tuberose, my favorite Kauai scent.

There are more Kauai flowers of course.. so many.   These are just a few of the Kauai’s enchanting Exotic Flowers that you may find when you visit.

Note:  Thanks to Indiamart for the Photo.   I can’t believe that I don’t have a photo of Tuberose as I have taken many shots of them on Kauai.


BIrd of Paradise Kauai

About the Author

Kauai Advisor ~ Francesca Azuremare ~ has lived on Kauai for 22 years. I feel blessed to live in such a magical, beautiful place. Over the years I have helped thousands of people find the perfect place to stay on Kauai whilst also advising on everything from places to propose to the best Na Pali boat ride. Now I'm sharing that information here. It's the Hawaiian way. Aloha!