This sprawling farm on the North Shore of Oahu began as a humble fruit stand in 1950. It has since evolved into one of Oahu’s biggest tourist attractions, drawing more than a million visitors each year. Located in historic Wahiawa Town on the way from Honolulu to Haleiwa, the Dole Plantation is a must-see for residents and visitors. Take a tour and you’ll get a one-of-kind experience and a window into Hawaii’s rich agriculture history; a history that has shaped the Hawaii of today, influencing our food, language, diversity, and more. This is a rare opportunity to experience one of the few permanent botanical mazes in the U.S., courtesy of Hawaii’s year-round beautiful weather. There’s plenty of interactive and educational fun of for kids, so it makes this a great way to while away an afternoon as a family.
Pineapple Garden Maze
Spanning three acres, the Dole Plantation’s giant maze is comprised of more than two and a half miles of paths set between more than 14,000 plants that form a lush hedge. It’s one of the few times you’ll enjoy getting lost! The hedge is made up of tropical plants, including hibiscus, heliconia, croton, panax, and pineapple. It was at one time the largest botanical maze in the world, and was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records. There are prizes the quick thinkers who can find their way out the fastest. Be sure to slather on lots of sunscreen and bring plenty of water into the maze, as you may be in there for a while. But we promise it’ll be tons of fun!
After you’ve found your way out of the maze, you may need a little refreshment and they’ve got just the thing. DoleWhip® is a delicious frozen treat, like a pineapple swirl of snow blowing in your face on a hot day. Locals will drive for miles to get a taste of this soft serve in one of the island’s favorite flavors – pineapple, of course! It’s offered in a cup or a cone and it tastes like childhood and happiness. Don’t miss it!
The Pineapple Express
Your kids will love the vintage-style trains that grace the Dole property and you’ll love touring through the history of Hawaii’s pineapple industry. The narrated train tour runs for two miles through the North Shores’ beautiful hillsides, telling the story of Dole founder James Drummond and how he built an agricultural empire and a brand that’s recognized around the world. The plantation has three locomotives that pull passenger cars: The Pineapple Express, The Aloha Express, and the Lady Liberty. After a fun day in the pineapple maze, some tasty dole whip, the hot sun and the North Shore Trade winds, your keiki are likely to fall asleep on the train. And that’s totally okay!
Plantation Garden Tour
For grown-ups interested in local flora, the Dole Plantation’s beautiful garden tour is sure to make you happy. Here you’ll find birds of paradise, plumeria, pikake, and pua kenikeni flowers. The tour highlights eight distinct gardens for an educational experience. These include: North Shore, Hibiscus, Bromeliad, Native Species, Lei Garden, Ti Leaf, Irrigation, and Life on the Plantation. You can also see local products at their source; pineapples, of course, but also coffee plants and cacao pods grown to produce Waialua’s tempting single-estate chocolate. The Garden Tour is a trip through Hawaii’s rich past and the influences of plantation life that have shaped the Hawaii of today. You’ll get a glimpse of the hard work and long days of the plantation workers who helped build the rainbow state.
From the Dole Plantation website:
We’ve come a long way from the plantation era, when fields of sugarcane and pineapple covered whole islands and stretched as far as the eye could see. Hawaii’s new diversified agriculture means that the region from Wahiawa to the North Shore is now a bright patchwork of tropical crops, including banana, taro, sweetcorn, lychee, papaya, mango, coffee, cacao (chocolate), and flowers. Many of these quality products are featured on the menus of Hawaii’s finest restaurants and can be found in stores throughout the world.
We are happy to confirm that local farms have indeed diversified since plantation days, and this is great for the soil, and great for Hawaii residents. This rich bounty is in evidence when you visit any of the numerous pop-up farmers’ markets that take place across the islands. A quick look at the list above, and we can also add arugula, an array of baby greens and butter lettuce, kale, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and zucchini to the list of items we regularly buy at our local markets. Many residents also harvest plenty of food staples in their own backyards.
A few years ago, the last sugar cane mill closed in Hawaii, but pineapple production is still in full swing. A drive to the North Shore will affirm this fact, as fields of Dole pineapples line the roads on the way to Haleiwa. We recommend a stop at the Dole plantation, since it has lots of entertainment for kids and adult alike. For residents and visitors planning a trip to Hawaii, you can arrange group tours, parties, or special events, and even have lunch catered for kids parties at the plantation’s restaurant. At the end of your day at the plantation, you can pick up some juicy, fresh pineapples to take home, or ship some to friends and family on the mainland.
Dole Plantation, 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa, (808) 621-8408, doleplantation.com.