Instagram influencers have found a new beauty spot to ruin

‘People will just ignore the signs. They’ll literally stage a photo, you know, right by the sign,’ official says

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Saturday 11 May 2024 22:06 BST
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden (Instagram)

Instagram influencers have found their latest target - and locals are not pleased.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, the largest botanical garden on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, has become a hit with those looking for dreamy pictures to boost their social media followings.

On Instagram, a photo of the botanical garden’s lush entryway went viral - and people have been pitching up in greater numbers ever since to capture it for the Gram.

Officials say such viral shots are behind the increase in visitors - from just under 250,000 visitors in 2017 to over 550,000 in 2022.

But the influx of visitors have repeatedly broken the rules and ignored basic safety precautions in their attempts to get the perfect photo, local officials say.

Even a host of “no photo” and “no parking” signs at the entryway have not stopped the crowds.

“It’s still quite a problem,” director of Honolulu Botanical Gardens Joshlyn Sand, told SFGATE. “People will just ignore the signs. They’ll literally stage a photo, you know, right by the sign.”

“It’s our point of entry, and it is very congested,” she continued. “It’s a shared road. It’s very narrow. There isn’t a bike line. There isn’t a pedestrian lane, so you’re sharing it with two cars, potentially, and strollers and walkers and bikers, and so photography sessions just don’t marry into that exact area.”

The director added that the issue has escalated “enough to be a pain” to the point that there have been some “close calls.”

She added: “No one’s been injured that I know of, but it’s gotten sticky before for sure.”

For now, admission to the botanical garden is free, and no reservations are required to visit. However, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation is considering changing that.

The Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, spread over 400 acres, were built in the early Eighties by the US Army Corps of Engineers to prevent flooding in the town of Kaneohe.

“Hoomaluhia” means “to make a place of peace and tranquility” in the Hawaiian language. The gardens contain plants from not only Hawaii but also Polynesia, the Philippines, Africa, Malaysia, tropical America, India, and Sri Lanka.

This is not the first time that locals have been up in arms over Instagramming masses.

Last year, in the small town of Pomfret, Vermont, the local government was forced to resort to drastic measures to curb the social media-fueled increase of eager tourists causing traffic congestion as they tried to capture the state’s famous fall foliage.

Instagram users have primarily been drawn to “Sleepy Hollow Farm”, a popular vista in the town which has spawned thousands photos of people standing on a lone leafy lane.

The traffic reportedly clogged multiple backroads like Cloudland Road, a dirt track with stunning rural views predominantly used by locals. However, during peak “leaf-peeping” season in the fall, tourists and influencers caused the backroad to become congested. At the time, local farmer Mike Doten told the Boston Globe that the “leaf peeping” tourists were getting in the way of the basic safety of the local residents.

“There is no way a fire truck or an ambulance can get up this road in the middle of foliage season,” he said. “It’s just too crowded.”

Beauty spots all over the world are fighting overtourism, with experts encouraging visitors and travel influencers to adhere to the local rules and regulations, no matter how keen they are on obtaining the perfect photo.

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