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“Fun Look at Old Plantation History, grounds” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Kilohana Plantation Estate

Kilohana Plantation Estate
3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766
808-245-5608
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Ranked #4 of 8 Attractions in Lihue
Type: Historic Sites, Cultural
Activities: Viewing wildlife
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Attraction details
Owner description: Built in the 1930’s, Kilohana Plantation is a historic landmark and premier visitor attraction offering visitors and locals a glimpse into Kauai’s past combined with assorted island-style activities, dining and shopping. Ride on our Kauai Plantation Railway, winding its way through the plantation’s working farms and orchards. Learn about Kauai’s history, enjoy the beautiful views and stop to feed the pigs! Take the afternoon to stroll the grounds and explore the 16,000 sq. foot plantation home. Stop in at Koloa Rum Co. for a rum tasting or for a full “Rum & Dining Experience.” Visit the various artisan shops located around the grounds and both upstairs and downstairs in the home. Established in 1986, Gaylord’s restaurant is a Kauai tradition. Set in the courtyard of the estate, it offers fresh, island-inspired food and beverages for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Make lunch a part of your fun afternoon on the estate or make reservations for a romantic dinner. Memorable by day, unforgettable by night. Opening soon: A fun new bar in the Kilohana living room. Luau Kalamaku is Kauai’s only theatrical luau telling the story of the original Tahitian voyage to the Hawaiian islands. An interactive experience, it offers all the exciting luau features including an imu ceremony, torch lighting, Polynesian knife dance and of course traditional music & hula. Choose one or all of the features that Kilohana Plantation has to offer. Open daily, you’ll love the chance to see a piece of Kauai’s history while experiencing the best of the island today!
california
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Fun Look at Old Plantation History, grounds”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2014

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!

Visited January 2014
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239 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Big Bear City, California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
“Better than expected”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2014

What a hidden gem! We took a guided tour by golf cart with a volunteer who was very knowledgeable about the history of the estate. I loved all of the statues throughout the large property and hearing about their backgrounds, and the wide variety of plants and trees from all over the world was staggering. What a tranquil, inspiring, educational way to spend a few hours. Definitely recommended!

Visited December 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Top Contributor
286 reviews 286 reviews
53 attraction reviews
Reviews in 90 cities Reviews in 90 cities
334 helpful votes 334 helpful votes
“Disappointing”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2014 via mobile

We have been here many times over the past 30 years and today went back for the train ride which is new for us.
The old estate built in the 1930s is an imposing mansion which unfortunately has been subdivided into several nonsensical shops and restaurants, as well as a luau venue. Now they have a rum sales and tasting room and a train ride. None of these are historically relevant to what the estate was about in the 1930s, nor relevant to the plantation that was the source of wealth here. It has become a tourist trap.
The train ride is expensive for such a short tour. We paid $40 for one adult and two children, that was with the 15% discount when you mention the web site discount. Others in line were not offered the discount.
We got there early for the 10AM departure.
They didn't open the ticket window until 9:45, then they were slow and inefficient with the long line of customers...
We were allowed to board at 10AM, but the train did not depart until 10:11. The advertised 40 minute train ride lasted around 35 minutes.

The tour guide provided a barely adequate narration of the 100 acre grounds while we rolled through gardens, orchards and animal pastures. Narration was heavily salted with information about shops and restaurants and very short on local culture, history or even the story of this estate.
We found the staff lacking Aloha spirit and hospitality.
At the end of the tour our guide solicited us for tips twice and put the tip box right next to the exit. None of the staff deserved tips, especially after the high ticket price,
Highlight of the trip was a stop to see and feed goats and "wild pigs". The animals were crowded into a dusty, muddy pen. Are pigs wild when caged? Goats were safe for kids to feed the provided bread, but pigs were not and should not have been in such close proximity with children holding bread in hand.
Some of the passengers got off at this point to have lunch in a picnic area. They were on the 4 hour lunch tour. Did not look wonderful.
At the end of our tour and tip box opportunity we were invited to the rum tasting room, how inappropriate for a family tourist attraction.
Too bad management has so poorly managed a potentially nice family attraction

Visited January 2014
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Fountain Valley
Top Contributor
170 reviews 170 reviews
56 attraction reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
194 helpful votes 194 helpful votes
“Pretty Location”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2014

This is a large estate with beautiful grounds and a mansion that you can visit for free. So go ahead and stop. They also have a rum store.

Visited December 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Not the greatest tour”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2013

This was an okay tour, but not sure I'd do again. I learned a little, but there wasn't much to see/do. Mostly about the shops.

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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