When the United States’ Civil War broke out, the South stopped selling its agricultural goods — cotton, sugar, rice — to the North. A big blow to the mostly industrious North; they needed to get these goods elsewhere and so entered into a treaty with the Hawaiian Kingdom. This treaty essentially said that the northern states would buy all agricultural products Hawaii would produce. And produce they did. In 1864, Kilohana became the first of many large sugar plantations to pop up on the island.
Today, Kilohana is much smaller of a sugar operation than it once was, but it still boasts fields and, a traditional rum distillery, and around all of this, a train. A train on which visitors can take what’s called the Kauai Plantation Railway Experience.
The Kauai Plantation Railway Experience takes place aboard across three elegant mahogany passenger trains. There is a dedicated train route or railway that offers a unique and gorgeous way to see the beauty of inland Kauai.
This railway experience takes families on a narrated journey around the 105-acre Kilohana Plantation. You’ll learn more about Hawaii’s very interesting history and the more specific history of Kauai and Kilohana Plantation. The railway takes visitors through fields of sugar cane, banana, avocados, and so much more. The tours also go along the Kahna Nui Valley where passengers can catch beautiful vistas of the more wild tropical side of Kauai. This gorgeous 45-minute train ride also includes a peek at the unique and historic architecture of Kilohana Estate itself as well.
The Kauai Plantation Railway Experience is a particularly great adventure for families, especially those with young kids. This is because the farmlands here don’t just raise crops. As part of the journey, the train will take visitors close and even pause near animal pastures of donkeys, horses, and some friendly (albeit wild) pigs. On some tours, this stop will allow guests to feed these friendly animals. This makes this railroad experience doubly the perfect experience for most kids as they will get the joys of train riding and getting up close and personal with animals.
While this train ride is a big highlight of the Kilohana Plantation, it isn’t the only attraction worth seeing here. Enjoy a relaxing lunch or dinner accompanied by live music at Gaylord’s or tour the Koloa Rum Company Store and make a more extended stop at their Tasting Room. In the evenings, there’s even a luau show atop the plantation’s advanced interactive stage with modern stage lighting and media that really expands the experience.
Note that there is a Signature Train Tour and a Train & Lunch Tour
The Train & Lunch Tour Pricing Goes As Follows:
Infant (under 3) – free
Child (3-12) – $68.50
Adult (13 & up) – $88.50.
The Signature Train Tour Pricing Goes As Follows:
Infant (under 3) – free
Child (3-12) – $14.50
Kaama’aina Child – $10
Adult – $20
Kama’aina Adult – $14
Senior (62+) – $17.50
The Kauai Plantation Railway and all the other Kilohana Plantation attractions are located just off of Kaumualii Highway on the eastern side of Kauai. The plantation is conveniently located about halfway between the cities of Lihue and Puhi.
-Train departures typically happen every hour during the day, but different days have different hour availabilities. Check the official website before you go to make certain departures work for your overall day’s scheduling. It’s a good idea to check in and get your tickets about 15 minutes before the departure from the train depot.
-The train ride overall will last about 45 minutes.
-While the Kauai Plantation Railway Experience certainly has enough to offer as a main attraction, we recommend planning to spend some more time overall at the Kilohana Estate. Here, after all, guests will find exciting shops, dining, and that delicious rum distillery and tasting room.