Hawaii is certainly a one-of-a-kind gorgeous destination full of beautiful beaches, delicious cuisines, and a variety of amazing things to see and do. The Hawaiian Islands also features national parks, historical landmarks, and museums to visit to explore. If you are looking to complement your visit to Hawaii and learn about the islands’ history, we highly recommend visiting the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa. Koloa is actually the birthplace of sugar cane. This authentic historical landmark is located on the site of the former Ladd & Company Sugar Plantation, one of the first and oldest successful sugarcane mills in Hawaii. Those who visit, return time and time again because it’s like stepping back in time.
The Old Sugar Mill of Koloa is designated a Registered National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service and is definitely a sight to see. It’s easy to find by car in the historic old town of Kauai in Koloa. Simply go to the junction of Highway 520 and Highway 30. Prepared to take in all the culture and history the area has to offer.
Right when you arrive, you’ll see abandoned buildings, old vehicles, and rusted equipment that were used to grow and process sugar cane. It looks like everyone left what they were doing one day and never returned. It’s both eerie and inspiring because everywhere you look is a piece of history reminiscent of a time when sugar production was at its peak. You might not know this but sugar cane has been grown on the Islands for centuries. The fertile soil, full sun, and temperate climate make the perfect combination for this sweet crop. At one time this was the largest industry on the Hawaiian Islands.
You’ll want to be sure to charge up your senses and your camera because the photo opportunities are second to none. To give you some insight into the unique historical setting, portions of a popular Hollywood movie, Fast & Furious, Hobbs and Shaw, starring A-Listers, Dwayne, “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham was filmed there.
Look up, and you’ll see the original 30-foot tall stone smokestack built sometime between 1839 and 1841, that still stands tall into the Hawaiian sky. This relic of a time gone by is easily accessible unlike other areas of the plantation that are secured by fences. The Old Sugar Mill of Koloa has had different owners throughout time processing sugar until it finally shut down operations in 1996.
Not only will you see the remains of the sugar mill, nearby in the charming town of Old Koloa, there is a magnificent monument and sculpture honoring the industry. This eye-catching semi-circular monument features bronze tablets. It honors and showcases the different ethnic groups that worked in the sugar plantations. Sugar production was a very labor-intensive business and workers spent hours and hours in the hot environment working on the plantations. This included local Hawaiians, and immigrants from China, Korea, Puerto Rico, Japan, Portugal, and other countries. The history of the sugar cane industry and some information about the artist who created the sculpture are also featured to complete this unique must-see experience. The sculpture, created by Jan Gordon Fisher, was commissioned by the Hawaii Sugar Monument Committee and was dedicated in 1985.
The Old Sugar Mill of Koloa and the charming town pay tribute to the many generations that built a booming industry while creating a better life for their families. The sculpture also celebrates how blending cultures created a uniquely rich and varied society that remains today. You’ll leave enriched and inspired.
The Old Sugar Mill of Koloa is part of a 10-mile self-guided tour known as the Ka Ala Here Waiwai Hooilina of Koloa. This Heritage Trail showcases the area’s most significant historical, cultural and geological sites. And trust us when we say, everything listed on the trail is well worth your time to check it out.