Hawaii Plantation Tours

Go on a tour of some of the most prominent plantations in the exotic tropical island of Hawaii.

Discover the secrets, colorful history and products of Hawaii plantation farms.

Plantation Tours

“If you are looking for fun and interesting things to do on your Hawaii vacation, then you might consider visiting a plantation. Most of the Hawaii plantations have been around for a while, and when you visit the more historic ones, you can learn a lot about Hawaii history. The first sugar plantations in Hawaii were established in the 1830’s.” (Source: Destination360.com)
Here are some of them:

Dole Plantation

Dole Plantation should be in the list of places to visit if you are planning to go on a tour of Hawaii. This is where you will relish the total “Pineapple Experience.” The farm is situated along the thoroughfares from the state capital which is Honolulu to the famous community of Haleiwa. It is an ideal stop if you are traveling to or from Oahu.

Tourists can go on a tour to get a close look at the agricultural scenery and assortment of tropical produce. You can even witness how the fruit grows in the plantation’s pineapple gardens. Indeed, it can be an enlightening experience for visitors. Another trademark activity is the train tour dubbed as “Pineapple Express.” The old-fashioned train takes visitors on a thrilling 20-minute ride through farmlands and amazing panorama. It is also home to the Pineapple Garden Maze. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the biggest botanical maze in the whole world. The larger than life web goes through a 3.11 mile pathway.

The young James Dole came from Massachusetts to Honolulu where he bought 64 acres of land in the plains of Oahu in 1899. Dole tried several fruits and settled for pineapple in the end. This was just the start of his pineapple kingdom. Dole built two food canning factories in Honolulu and Wahiawa . The plantation-style abode eventually became a living museum.

Hawaii Plantation Village

This plantation village is a museum, garden and family destination. You can find Hawaii Plantation Village in the town of Waipahu which used to be a sugar plantation town. The outdoor museum shows off the lifestyle of laborers and day-to-day work in the island during the 1800s. Incidentally, the first group of Chinese workers arrived in 1852 and kept coming until after World War II. In 1947, the plantation ceased its operations. Workers from the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Japan, and Korea also worked at the sugarcane fields. The places flourished during the Plantation Era with approximately 400,000 laborers working in the estate.

There are refurbished camp homes, plantation merchandise store, sumo wrestling ring, and Japanese as well as Chinese temples in the village. You can also discover many historical objects which once belonged to some laborers. Guided excursions of the plantation have been scheduled from 10 am until the afternoon between Mondays and Saturdays.

You can reach Hawaii Plantation Village coming from Waikiki. You can take the H-1 highway beyond the airport and Pearl City going to Waipahu. Various attractions along the highway will certainly make your trip more enjoyable. One is Diamond Head Crater with the fairly rough trail, Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo, Oahu Golf Courses, and Pearl Harbor.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

The 5.5 acre Kona Coffee Farm is located in Kona District right at the Daisaku Uchida Coffee Farm. It was developed at the turn of the 20th century. This so-called Living History Farm is also an open-air agro museum. It portrays the life and times of original Japanese immigrants from 1920 to 1945. The property was acquired by Daisaku Uchida. He migrated from Japan in September 27, 1906. Over 140,000 Japanese workers moved to Hawaii between 1868 and 1924 to work in sugar farms. Uchida started a family enterprise upon expiration of his contract.

Meanwhile, the pioneering coffee trader (Henry Nicholas Greenwell) was one of those who introduced Kona coffee to the rest of the world. Coffee plants were planted in Kona adjacent to the Kealakekua Church. These started to flourish and turned out as the most successful effort to raise coffee in the Island of Hawaii. Kona coffee was acknowledged during the World Fair in Vienna. It even garnered an accolade for excellence during the exposition. Awareness heightened due to the coffee’s superior quality.

The coffee farm tours take approximately two and a half hours through advanced bookings. The tour begins with the orientation at Greenwell Store Museum which is now the office of Kona Historical Society. It is around three miles south of the museum at the heart of the coffee belt. Visitors are shown around through the orchard where coffee is produced. There are plantings of papaya, avocado, citrus and macadamia nuts. After the stroll through the area, guests can visit the one-story farmhouse, coffee-processing mill, outhouses, rainwater tanks, and drying shed.

Hilo Coffee Mill

The Hilo Coffee Mill is the largest in East Hawaii. It is a one-stop shop and includes roasting, processing, retail, wholesale, dine-in (restaurant), and online sales. The mill is responsible for brewing up the resurgence of coffee in this part of Hawaii. The verdant rainforests of Puna, Hamakua and Ka`u are where some of the best coffees worldwide are cultivated. In fact, almost 6,000 acres of coffee trees were planted here during the latter part of the 19th century. After this period, sugar became a more gainful yield. The waning of sugar led to the rebirth of coffee farms.

Hilo started operations in February of 2001. It is positioned on 24 acres of mountainous terrain complete with viewing area. It was established mainly to assist small coffee farmers who wish to produce as well as process and market coffee worldwide.

Kauai Coffee Plantation

Kauai Coffee Company is the biggest coffee grower both in Hawaii and the United States. It has planted more than four million coffee trees on 3,100 acres. Kauai Coffee Company is a subsidiary of Massimo Zanetti Beverage (USA) and is one of largest coffee roasters in the country.

The authentic Hawaiian coffee estate grows, roasts, and packages the commodity. More so, it employs environmentally sustainable practices and concentrates on quality and consistency that customers look for.

Kauai Coffee used to be McBryde Sugar Company. It was among the first sugar growers in Hawaii during the 1800s. The makeover from the old enterprise to Kauai Coffee in 1987 is said to be the most significant and diversified agricultural project in Hawaii in the last 10 decades. However, the venture went through a serious stumbling block in 1992. This was when Hurricane Iniki ravaged the crop and caused $8.5 million in damages. Yet, it was able to make a remarkable comeback. In 1996, the harvest surpassed the total volume of coffee produced by the whole Kona region.

Kauai Coffee has channeled investments to coffee production and processing within the last 15 years. As a newcomer in the world market, it quickly gained the edge in coffee production through modern technology and accounts for ½ of coffee produced in the United States. It boasts of the most extensive drip irrigation coffee estate globally with 2,500 miles of drip tubes. The efficient configuration applies water and fertilizers directly to tree roots. Hence, spraying or dusting of stimulants is not used in the farm.

Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum

The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum is made up of six exhibition rooms together with open-air displays of plantation machineries.
The first is the Geography Room which gives details about the natural features and climate patterns of Maui. It illustrates how these factors shaped the progress of the sugar industry. Information is also provided regarding the irrigation system and set-up of deep wells in the plantation. The Water Room explains how water was fetched from windward hills of the island to the sun-drenched innermost cape. It underscores the resilience of workers who achieved this deed.

The Human Resources Room exhibits historical facts about pioneers who helped establish the modern sugar business in Maui. Visitors can see photographs, documents and relics to include labor contracts in Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian languages. The Plantation Room contains enthralling exhibits and images that reveal the richness of plantation life. There are household works of art, religious items and scale diagram of original camp houses. You can even request (by appointment) to see the maps of Maui Agricultural Company, Pioneer Mill Company and Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar plus the registry form for former camp inhabitants and their respective families. A video clip, “From Cane to Sugar” was produced by the award-winning film producer Edgy Lee to showcase the processing of cane to sugar.

The Field Work Room shows how farmhands worked. It also puts on view survey equipment, cane knives and lunch pails. Lastly, the Mill Room presents interactive demonstrations of the 1915 locomotive bell, sugar mill of Cuban make, and work-scale prototype of a cane crusher. Outdoor exhibits bring to view equipment used by plantation laborers like the trench digger (Cleveland J36 model) and Portuguese oven built during the twenties. There is also a huge cane hauler and tractors. One exhibit that you should not miss is “Claus Spreckles”, a historic locomotive that traversed the Kahului railways for 47 years. It conveyed passengers and transported sugar.

Mauna Loa Macadamia Plantation

More than 30 years in the past, Mauna Loa started honing the most desired nuts in Hawaii. This is the brittle Macadamia nut with a truly unique taste. With its perseverance, the Mauna Loa Macadamia Plantation was able to create a delicious selection of macadamia nuts which eventually extended to more than 12 flavors. The main office and processing plant are located near the mountain. It is south of Hilo (Puna District) in the big island of Hawaii.

The original Mauna Loa macadamia estate was created in 1946. After 10 years, the very first commercial crop was harvested. The visitors’ facility itself is a tourist destination. You can enjoy the self-guided tour of the processing hub that can be seen from the outside through a second-level walkway for safety and sanitation issues. Guests can purchase homemade macadamia ice cream from the big gift shop along with free samples of all flavor variations. Mauna Loa is situated at One Macadamia Road close to the town of Keaáu.
The company espouses sustainable practices. It is close to reaching absolute carbon neutral stage by cutting down its dependence on electricity generated through conventional methods. These involve specifically crude oil and coal products. The company has its steam generator at the principal production facility. It utilizes plant waste to produce electrical power in harvesting and packaging macadamia seeds.

Kahuku Farms

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

Kahuku Farms is the product of two farming families and bridges three generations in Hawaii. Offspring of the Matsuda and Fukuyama families relocated from Japan to Hawaii for the purpose of getting employed in sugar plantations way back in the 1900’s. Shinichi and Torie Matsuda grew bell peppers, papaya fruits, watermelon, and bananas in Kahuku during the Second World War. They were joined later on by another son, Melvin.

On the other hand, Masatsugu and Nora Fukuyama produced papaya, watermelon, eggplant, and cucumbers. A son (Clyde) came in 1965. Clyde and Melvin became very good pals and business partners. Both took to farming and even went to Australia where they stayed for one year to grow watermelons. This brought about the birth and merger of the Matsuda and Fukuyama Farms in 1986. The enterprise was responsible for creating the Kahuku Brand which concentrated on the production and distribution of fruits and vegetables from Hawaii. These were sold on a wholesale basis.

Their love for agriculture encouraged the long-time friends to diversify and share the wonders and bounties of farming with close friends and next of kin. The duo educated and shared their hands-on experiences to these people. Kahuku Farms was born out of this friendship and entrepreneurial venture. The farm became a vehicle for learning, enjoying and experiencing diversified agriculture.