Kilohana Plantation and Kauai Plantation Railway
A train tour of the historic Kilohana Plantation sounded like fun, so we headed to Lihue. The narrated 2.5-mile rail line circles around the property and passes through original sugarcane and taro fields; groves of mango, banana, papaya, and pineapple; and experimental plantings of various crops. Along the way, pigs, goats, sheep, a donkey, and a cow entertain the riders.
Cook pine trees (Araucaria columnaris) are a common sight on Kauai. Johann Reinhold Forster, a botanist on Captain James Cook’s second voyage, classified the tree which is endemic to New Caledonia.
About halfway, the train stopped and let everyone off to feed tortillas to the animals. It was a challenge to fling the tortillas to the smaller animals so they would beat their larger friends to the prize. Back on the train, it was a delight to watch the pigs run with the train (behind their fence, of course) as the guide flung more tortillas.
The guide told us that the plantation treats all the animals as pets, assuring us there was no danger the critters would end up on a luau banquet table.
Not interested in the train? Hop on a Safari truck for a two-hour guided tour of the property, where adventurers drop into the Kahuna Nui Valley, stroll across a boardwalk through a tropical rainforest, and enjoy a Mai Tai at the Jungle Bungalow while listening to the flowing river.
The Kilohana Plantation was first developed in 1896 by Albert Spencer Wilcox as a working cattle ranch. Wilcox’s nephew, Gaylord Parke Wilcox, took over in 1936 and built Kauai’s first mansion.
After our train ride, we wandered around the 1930s restored 16,000-square-foot mansion, browsing through the specialty shops and art galleries. Some of our group waited patiently for the Kauai Sweet Shop to open so they could buy their sweet treats.
Barefoot Bar at Duke’s Kauai
We thought about eating at Gaylord’s because their menu looked so good. But we opted to drive to the Barefoot Bar at Duke’s Kauai. Unfortunately, we had to wait about an hour in the tropical sun.
We found a few shady spots to cool our heels and stared out at the inviting bay water, wishing we had brought our swimwear.
And then, the hostess called our name. Good thing because that hour wait in the heat and sun about conked us out.
Note for future reference: Always pack swimwear and towels even if you don’t plan on swimming. You never know when the opportunity might present itself.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa Luau
When in Hawaii, one must attend a Luau. We all dressed in our best island attire and drove to the Grand Hyatt Luau, where they served as many Mai Tais as we wanted. The drinks weren’t the best I’ve ever had because the tropical weather melted the ice, diluting the alcohol, but I didn’t turn them down either.
The buffet had an abundance of food with beef, pork, fish, chicken, fresh salads and vegetables, an assortment of fruit, and rice and rolls. The pork and fish were my favorites, along with the yams. And the best dessert was the coconut lemon cake.
But the luau isn’t just about the food and drinks. It’s the music and singing and dancing. Below is a little video I captured at the end of the fire knife dance, the climax of the show. It’s a bit grainy but still fun to watch.
After the show, the photographer gave each couple the Aloha photo above as a souvenir. What a delightful surprise. The luau included free drinks and a photo. Usually at events like this, the drinks are overpriced and photos are not included.
The adventure continues. Stay tuned.