Kauai Plantation Railway Experience
You hear a whistle, then the clattering of the rails, and your train pulls into the depot led by “Ike,” our 1939 Whitcomb diesel engine. Ike pulls elegant mahogany coaches modeled after the personal car of King Kamehameha. As you climb aboard you step back in time to the age of the Hawaiian plantation.
Take a Ride!
The Plantation Railway features a 40-minute narrated ride aboard our authentic train, a tour through Kilohana’s working plantation. You may choose to sit in our open-sided car or enclosed coach, both traditionally designed and pulled by a fully restored diesel engine, similar to the first combustion engines that ran in Lihue during the pre-war period.
You begin your journey traveling through dense tropical forest and past plantation era homes. Soon you will pull out into the plantation’s working farms. Along with many historical highlights, the conductor will point out some of the more than 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables being cultivated, including exotic pineapple, papaya, mango and rambutan. As the fresh, tropical scents blow through your coach the train winds past the taro patches to the highlight of the trip: the farmyard!
Our enclosed farmyard is inhabited by an enthusiastic herd of wild pigs, goats, sheep, the occasional horse or donkey, and of course our Kauai chickens. Disembark to stretch your legs and please DO feed the animals. The conductor will provide bread and fruit for you to share with our wild beasts.
On the return trip the conductor may share stories of local legends or lore and you will continue to feel Kauai’s past long after you pull into the depot.
Following the first segment of our train ride, your guide will lead you into the densely lush and ginger-scented Kahuna Nui Valley. This tropical rainforest is bursting with tropical plants and flowers. As you leisurely hike into the valley and walk along the rushing creeks you will learn about the native plants, exotic fruits, flowers, and birds that you are seeing in their natural Hawaiian environment.
The trail will wind you to the perfect shady location for your gourmet deli lunch. Get to know your fellow hikers, feed the animals or stretch out on the lawn and let the trade winds cool you. The final segment of your excursion takes you through our fruit orchards where we encourage you to take a “hands-on” approach. Sample fresh pineapple, mango, papaya or rambutan straight from the tree.
Railroads on Kauai date back to 1881, with the first track laid at Kilauea Plantation. Workers often rode out to the sugar cane fields on the railways and daily work involved loading the cars with tons of cut cane headed to the mills and processed sugar to the shipping landings. However, following WWII improvements to trucking and hauling vehicles led to the demise of Hawaii’s railway systems. Plantation railroads were largely gone by 1950, with only the Lihue Plantation in service until 1959. Kauai Plantation Railway is the first new railroad to be built on Kauai in nearly 100 years.