On the outskirts of Līhu‘e, nestled among fertile hills formerly home to sweeping sugarcane fields, is a portal to another time, the Kilohana Plantation. This 16,000 square-foot Tudor style mansion may look oddly out of place beneath blue Kaua‘i skies and backdropped by rugged mountains, but The Kilohana Estate harkens visitors back to the 1930’s and the heyday of the agricultural boom in the Hawaiian Islands. Formerly the center of a 27,000-acre sugar plantation and home to one of Kaua‘i’s wealthiest and most iconic families, the mansion and 35-acre estate with tropical gardens and a plantation village have been restored to their glory days and are open to the public.
Kilohana Plantation in Kauai is a popular destination for weddings, historical tours, and gatherings on its expansive grounds, and there is plenty to do during your visit. The village is home to Gaylord’s Restaurant and a selection of eclectic, period shops and unique vendors like the Koloa Rum Company, a local distillery that produces rum from the same sugar the plantation used to harvest. In the evenings, the spectacular and theatrical Luau Kalamaku dazzles guests with hula performances, fire spinning shows, Hawaiian cultural demonstrations and traditional games, and a delicious feast full of island delicacies.
Touring the Kilohana Plantation in Kauai
In the early 20th century, Kilohana Plantation and its grand estate was the economic, social, and cultural center of eastern Kaua‘i. Today there is still much to see and many ways to explore the estate’s grounds, but in our book nothing beats a ride aboard the Kaua‘i Plantation Railway. Hop aboard the train and enjoy a scenic tour through the working farm, which still produces a variety of products to this day. If you prefer to explore on foot, feel free to wander the scenic jungle trails, visit the 60-acre orchard, and feed the friendly animals housed across the estate. Stop by the market stands and shops to sample the exotic fruits and vegetables grown here, as well as the local rum. Vendors sell a variety of local arts and crafts, all made right here on Kaua‘i. Cap your day with a sunset over the mountains, a cocktail in the chic Mahiko Lounge in the former living room of the mansion, or enjoy a luau show and delicious dinner.
A glimpse into another time and a portal to Hawai‘i’s past, the Kilohana Plantation in Kauai is a wonderful escape for the entire family. Parking and admission to the house are free, while train tours and luau tickets may be purchased in advance. The estate is open from 11am-2:30pm and 5:30-8:30pm, daily, except Sundays (9am-1pm).