Nestled among the fertile hills that were formerly home to broad fields of sugarcane is a portal to another time: The Kilohana Plantation Estate. Located just outside of Līhu‘e, this 16,000 square-foot Tudor-style mansion may look oddly out of place beneath blue Kaua‘i skies with rugged mountains replacing English hedgerows, but to us that makes it all the more charming. Harkening visitors back to the 1930’s and the heyday of the agricultural boom in the Hawaiian Islands, this estate is a living museum that faithfully depicts the daily routine of a 27,000-acre sugar plantation. In the early part of the 20th century, this area was the economic center of the island, and the mansion was home to one of Kaua‘i’s wealthiest and most iconic families. Today, the mansion and 35-acre estate features tropical gardens and a plantation village that are just waiting to whisk you away to the glory days of “Big Sugar.”
Kilohana Plantation Estate is a popular destination for weddings, historical tours, and gatherings. Visitors flock to its manicured landscaped and the exotic gardens that decorate its expansive grounds. The restored plantation village is home to charming clapboard houses as well as Gaylord’s Restaurant. There is a selection of eclectic, period shops. One unique vendor, the Koloa Rum Company, is a local distillery that produces rum from the same sugar crops 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. Learn more about the best Kauai tours.
Kauai Tourist Spots
In the early 20th century, Kilohana Plantation Estate 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 a working farm that still produces a variety of crops and specialty 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 watching the sunset over the mountains, a cocktail in the chic Mahiko Lounge (located in the mansion’s former living room), or enjoy the luau show and delicious dinner.
A glimpse into another time and a portal to Hawai‘i’s past, the Kilohana Plantation Estate 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 (when it is open 9am-1pm).