There is no shortage of amazing stuff to do in Hawaii and Honolulu has more things to do than many other cities on the other islands. If you want to get out of the city for half a day, renting a car or taking TheBus out to the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa can be a treat in many ways. Slather on the sunscreen and put on your best walking shoes, because even though the plantation is not large, you will do a lot of walking while you’re there and the Hawaiian sun can be strong any time of the year.
You’ll find a lot to do on the plantation, even though it isn’t very large. You could spend an hour just wandering around the gift shop and finding interesting food items like pineapple coffee and taffy or even cookbooks and souvenir clothing. Have fresh pineapple shipped to your house, or be on everyone’s favourite friend list by sending it to others as gifts. Get to the plantation right around opening time and you will avoid the crowds of tourists that arrive on tour buses in the afternoon.
Once you’ve realized that shopping can wait until later, you will want to get a multi-pass ticket to ride on the Pineapple Express, take the audio tour through the botanical garden or lose yourself in the pineapple maze – you can purchase a pass for two of the three to save money overall. We specifically went to Dole to experience the 2008 world’s largest maze. If you’re the competitive sort, see how quickly you can make it from start to finish. Your time starts as soon as you receive your ticket and you get a map and a passport to mark at each of eight stations peppered throughout the maze. The fastest finishers of each day receive a prize and their name in the Dole record books.
If you aren’t in a hurry, then it can be really fun to slow down and enjoy your time in the maze. Engage with other explorers to help make your way to each station. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of some cute little creatures, like wild ferrets, in the two and a half miles of pathways. The maze covers three acres and is one of the few permanent botanical mazes in America.
After your trek through the maze, rest up by taking a leisurely train ride on the Pineapple Express, where you will learn the history of the Dole Plantation and how pineapple came to Hawaii and its growing cycle. Your 20-minute ride takes you through some beautiful landscaping and growing crops. You will hear the story of James Drummond Dole and also a few songs from local Hawaiian bands. If you love gardening and exotic plants, you’ll find many photo opportunities on your ride as well.
Once your ride is over, you may find yourself feeling a need for nourishment. Stop into the Plantation Grille and order some delicious local food and a Dole Whip for dessert. Made totally from shaved frozen pineapple, Dole Whip can’t be found the way they make it at the Dole Plantation anywhere else. Food platters at the Grille are large and can feed someone with an enormous appetite or two people with normal ones. They serve some of the best-tasting – and prettiest – food I’ve ever eaten at a tourist attraction.
If you have any energy leftover, you can take an audio tour of the Plantation Garden. Learn about plants like plumeria, hibiscus, ti, bromeliads and more. This is also a great place to take a ton of photos if you enjoy exotic plants. Take a moment to sit by the pond full of tiny fish while you listen to the narrative on your audio device. Take as long as you like in the garden, before heading back to the very large gift shop to load up on awesome souvenirs and delicious food items. They will even ship for you, so you can save room in your luggage and have a great little care package waiting for you when you get home.
The Dole Plantation is one of the most entertaining places I’ve ever been that revolves around an item grown on-site. Where was the best food attraction or festival you’ve ever travelled to?