Kilohana is one of the last sugar plantation estates on Kauai, consisting of the plantation house, orchards, an old cattle area that has become a rainforest valley you can tour, and several shops, along with the train ride and luau that help to support this last bastion of old Kauai's history.
We took the rain forest-orchard tour, and enjoyed it tremendously. The two guides were extremely knowledgable about the area and its history, as well as the native/non-native flora and fauna. We learned a lot about the house's origin and how it got to the present day still intact, for the most part. The rain forest tour was good for all ages- we had everyone from about 10 years to upper 60's, and all were kept interested and informed as we strolled thru the forest area. The 'stairs' down to and up from this valley were well thought out and cut into the landscape so that even a three footed klutz like me could negotiate them- even after it had rained pretty hard and they were a little slippery! Before we came to the forest, we rode the train to a central corral where we were given the chance to feed bread to the semi-wild pigs and goats they keep on the estate- along with the ubiquitous Kauai chickens, this was a great entertainment for the youngsters in the group, and gave all a chance to see just how big the wild boar can get! After our stroll through the rain forest, we had lunch and a short walk across the pasture to the orchards we had already passed. Depending on what is in season, you search through the rows with the guides looking, and eating, your way through several different varieties of tree fruits. We were able to sample tangerines, rambutans, langan, cara-cara oranges, we also saw how cashews grow on their trees, but did not sample, since they need to be roasted first...; my adult children found a ripe passionfruit growing in one of the tangerine trees we were able to sample, also an avocado we took back to our hotel with us, since avocados don't ripen until you take them off the tree! We had a ripe, estate grown pineapple for dessert at lunch, as well. It was fun to see the different fruits and how they grow on the trees We re-boarded the train for the last bit of history as told by the train commentator, 'Tiny', who was not the least bit small, but very humorous and also very informative as we rode past the old taro ponds (found a pair of the rare Hawaiian Nenes there), the bantam pens where the hens lay rainbow colored eggs, and a little more of the forest vegetation- so up close and personal, you have to pull any out-lying limbs of your own in, and even then, we almost got hit in the face with a couple of leafy twigs!
After de-boarding, all 6 of us trooped over to a fairly new enterprise that Kilohana now sports- the Koloa Rum Company. What better way to keep the sugar cane fields alive than to make rum from it? They are very strict on age requirements- you MUST show a picture ID that gives your birthdate, and they will NOT allow anyone under age to be in the tasting room!! My husband and I actually went to this tasting twice, and had two pourers that were very different and informative in different ways. Between the two, we learned a lot about how the rum company came about, and how it is faring- small, but medal-winning lots of a very well made variety of rums- I liked the coconut-flavored one, and he liked the spiced one. They have a shop where you can buy the rum, as well as other locally made items afterward.
We visited Kilohana estate on another day. The mansion is a beautiful, imposing structure that is highly visible from the main road, and has been broken up into several shops and a large, well known upper class restaurant named 'Gaylords' after the original owner.. It is too bad they had to turn it into a shopping location, but if that is what saves the place from the bull-dozer, it was the right decision to make. Maybe sometime in the future they can re-establish the house as a museum, and move the shops to replicas of the out-lying plantation buildings that would have been there in the glory days of the place. For now, the shops all support local crafts, and the proprietors are more than happy to explain the individual rooms and how they fit together- we were in the childrens' quarters and lost as to how the room worked until the jeweler who uses the space explained the layout to us!
We found the tour worth the price, informative and fun, the estate grounds are beautiful to stroll about in, and the house a great piece of old Kauai history that is well worth saving and learning about- enjoy the free stroll of the grounds, or help keep the estate alive by investing a few tourist dollars into one of the tours- and don't forget to feed a few chickens on the way!
If you own or manage Kilohana Plantation Estate, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.