The Koloa History Center is a small but informative museum that celebrates and educates guests on the history of the town of Koloa and what life was like here during the era of big sugar plantations. While certainly not a big attraction or one found on most “must-see” guides, the Koloa History Center does have its own charm and nicely opens the door to a greater understanding of a unique aspect of Hawaiian life.
Unsurprisingly, you will find the Koloa History Center in the heart of Old Koloa Town. The best way to reach this center and the historic part of town is from the north, traveling south down Kaumualii Highway and taking a left onto Maluhia Road. Turning onto this road puts you right onto what is caked the Tree Tunnel, a stretch of pavement lined with eucalyptus trees that were planted a century ago during the area’s peak sugar era. This beautiful tree-lined road provides a wonderful gateway into Koloa town and will dead-end right in front of the historic commercial buildings that include the Koloa History Center.
Entrance into the Koloa History Center is free, making it a good stop for anyone and everyone visiting this part of Historic Old Koloa Town — unless, of course, you absolutely hate history. Going through the entirety of the museum will take about 20 to 40 minutes, depending upon how long you and your traveling group looks at each exhibit and meanders along the way. While partially open-air, the entire museum is roofed and so makes for a good escape during a sudden and quick rainfall.
It is important to note that while the Koloa History Center does tell the history of this part of Hawaii, it doesn’t tell the whole history. This center isn’t necessarily about each culture and its peoples that took part in the sugar industry, and so those looking for more indigenous history or history of the cultures that emigrated to Koloa to take part in the sugar plantation may find themselves unimpressed or disappointed in the exhibits. Rather, what this museum does best is showcase a historical account of what the sugar plantation era felt like and how it shaped the town itself. For example, visitors can expect to see photographs and farming artifacts that date back to that era.
While the Koloa History Center is interesting and is deserving of a visit, if even a quick one, so as visors to the village can better understand what it used to be, we would not recommend this as an entire trip’s destination. This is a cute, free museum that has some interesting stuff but not one that is going to hold even the most history-loving person’s attention for long.
The upshot of this is that there are plenty of other things to see and do in the buildings that neighbor the Koloa History Center. The park across the street often boasts food trucks and offers a nice green area in which to sit and enjoy your treats, while the historic district itself offers a ton of outstanding shopping spots. If you love sweet things, make sure to grab a cone of ice cream at Koloa Mill Ice Cream & Coffee that’s right next to the Koloa History Center.
-If you are really into learning more about Koloa, make sure to check out the Koloa Heritage Trail. This is a unique 14-stop self-guided tour that takes course over ten miles. Each of the stops centers upon an important cultural, historical, or geological site within the Koloa and Poipu areas. Visitors on this trail can opt to walk, bike, or even drive to each spot. All of them are properly labeled and include in-depth information on their significance.
-The best time to visit Koloa is in July during the village’s annual Koloa Plantation Days Celebration. This is a 10-day event that includes a whole host of activities, including outstanding entertainment and historically-authentic foods and crafts.