Kilohana Plantation — Take a Trip into the Past While Having a Blast
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Once a 23,000-acre sugar plantation, Kilohana Plantation now serves as a top spot to enjoy the rich traditions of Kauai. From hula dancing and safaris to rum tasting and island dining experiences, all the activities promise to take you on a deep dive of island culture. You can even take a tour of the plantation by train to see the beauty of paradise up close and personal.  

- The Local Expert Team

The Kilohana Plantation began in the 1930s as a 23,000-acre sugar plantation set around a 16,000-square-foot home. Although it’s now whittled down to just 105-acres in total, the exquisite plantation home still stands in all its glory as does many of the fields full of sugar canes. In addition, they grow orchards full of fruits, vegetables, and exotic plants galore, which provide their onsite restaurants with plenty of fresh ingredients.

The lush fields also serve as the top spot to go on a rum safari tour to remember. Upon joining that tour group, you can learn all about their sustainable farming practices and look at all the gorgeous plants. You’ll also get a chance to sample their produce and taste their delicious rum.  

Once you return, you can check out the artisan goods on the second floor of the plantation house or buy a few bottles of rum from the Koloa Rum Company. Whatever you do, be sure to get on over to watch the luau before day’s end.

In honor of their ancestors’ journey and sheer determination in overcoming all the challenges along the way, Luau Kalamaku puts on an impressive show featuring skilled hula and fire dancers. You’ll delight in their talents while enjoying the riveting story of the ancestral voyage from ancient Polynesia to the Hawaiian Islands.

As you explore all the plantation has to offer, take the time to drop into the two onsite eateries to refuel for even more adventures. For snacks and drinks, visit the Mahiko Lounge & Lanai, a modern bar with a chill vibe. They have many excellent specialty drinks on the menu, but the farm-to-glass Mai Tais are always a good choice. Pair them with fresh pork rinds, edamame served poke style, or pork sliders for the snack of a lifetime.

When you’re in the mood for a full meal, scoot on over to The Plantation House by Gaylords instead. At this full-scale restaurant, Chef Johnny Saguid creates truly flavorful dishes infused with all the best island flavors. Although you can’t go wrong no matter what you order, the Misoyaki Fresh Catch is always a great idea if you’re not sure what to get.

After you enjoy your meal, you can see the rest of the plantation by train. Just hop into one of the mahogany passenger cars, and then kick back and relax while taking in all the wondrous sights and sounds. You’ll get to see tons of tropical flowers and hardwood trees along with pastures full of livestock, including cattle, sheep, goats, and even donkeys. At the end of the ride, you’ll get a chance to feed the wild sheep, goats, and pigs while learning all about their feeding habits and other behaviors. 

Insider Tips:
-The tables at The Plantation House by Gaylords fill up fast, especially during the tourist season. Make sure they save you a spot by booking your reservation ahead of time through their website.
-If you’re not sure what rum to select, you can sample their offerings before buying. Just ask for a taste of your top choices as you visit the Koloa Rum Company.
-Want special photos with the hula and fire dancers? Zip on over to the luau at 8:15pm for photo opportunities galore.
-They regularly book out the property for private events, including weddings, anniversary parties, and even corporate retreats. Plan to reserve your spot months in advance, especially if your event will occur during the summer.