Hawaii’s pineapple industry is no longer what it once was, but at Dole Plantation on Oahu, this prickly fruit is still king.
Nearly a million people visit Dole Plantation each year. It originally opened in 1950 as a simple fruit stand, and reopened in 1989 after an extensive remodeling of its facilities to provide the complete “pineapple experience.” In 1997, the site underwent a $125,000 interior renovation to simulate building facades patterned after old Haleiwa Town.
A favorite attraction here is the Pineapple Garden Maze, made from 11,400 colorful Hawaiian plants. Covering an area of more than two acres (with a path length of approximately 1.7 miles), the maze in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s largest maze.”
Once you find your way out of the maze, take some time to enjoy Dole Plantation’s other offerings: The Pineapple Express train tour is a two-mile, 20-minute, fully-narrated tour that provides insights on the history of the pineapple; the rigors of plantation life; and the story of James Dole, who pioneered the pineapple industry in the Islands. The Plantation Garden Tour, meanwhile, is a self-guided walk that brings you face to face with a variety of agricultural crops in Hawaii.
Dole Plantation also features informational displays and presentations about the pineapple. The visitor center offers a wide variety of pineapple-related merchandise. You can even treat yourself to an icy-cool cup of world-famous DoleWhip.
It’s believed that the pineapple originated in the lowlands of Paraguay. Historians believe the fruit was introduced to Hawaii in 1527, after a Spanish shipwreck near the coast of South Kona on the Big Island brought a number of goods to the Islands. In later years, a Spanish adventurer named Francisco de Paula Marin experimented with raising pineapples in Hawaii in the early 1800s. James Dole would later pioneer the pineapple industry, earning acclaim as Hawaii’s “Pineapple King.”
Dole Plantation is located at 64-1550 Kamehameha Highway near Wahiawa in Central Oahu. (It’s about a 45-minute drive from Waikiki.) The attraction is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.