Kauai Land Tours Offer Unique Insights Into Island’s Past

Categorized as Kauai Vacation Information

History and Culture By Jeep, Train, Bus, and Foot

Taking a land tour on the Garden Island offers visitors a chance to see many areas of the island that were inaccessible just a few years ago. Specialty tours include historic areas such as Kilohana as well as natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon as well as historic areas such as Kilohana which give a glimpse into Kauai’s olden days.

Tours also visit sites of Hollywood movies as well as private estates where chocolate and coffee is grown. Guides fill you on all the pertinent information including the Hawaiian cultural traditions.

Here are some of Kaua’s best land tours:

Aloha Kaua‘i Tours (800-452-1113) offers a snorkeling tour they call SeaFun Kauai, and also provides four-wheel drive adventures they have named the Rainforest Hike and Kauai Backroads.

The SeaFun Kauai tour is based from the shoreline and accommodates experienced as well as novice swimmers. Guides provide information about Kauai’s sea life in areas such as Tunnels Beach on the north shore and Lawai Bay on the southern shore.

The Kauai Backroads tour is a half-day, four-wheel drive adventure along old sugar cane roads on Grove Farm Plantation. Departing from the historic Kilohana mansion that was built in 1935, the tour travels over abotu 33 miles of private roads and enjoys great views from the top of Kilohana Crater.

The Rainforest Hike travels into the interior of the island and begins with a four-wheel drive adventure  to Keahua Arboretum and beyond, and continues with a hike near the crater of Mt. Waialeale. This journey visits the Gate that was used in the Jurassic Park movie.

Another great land tour is found at the Kilohana Plantation Estates in Lihue. The historic mansion at Kilohana was built in 1935 and is still a working farm, and features nice gift shops and the sumptuous Gaylords Restaurant. Kilohana’s Hike and Train Ride Tour lasts about three and one-half hours and takes you through a rainforest amidst exotic plants and rushing streams.

Kids and old-timers equally love the historic restored train that makes getting there half the fun. The estate also includes historic cottages, agricultural exhibits, and flower gardens. Kilohana Plantation Estates is located between Kauai Community College and the Kukui Grove Shopping Center.

One of Hawaii’s leading land tour companies is Polynesian Adventure Tours (800-622-3011; 808-833-3000).

The all-day Waimea Canyon and Wailua River Tour visits Waimea Canyon, Hanapepe Valley, Spouting Horn, south coast Po‘ipū Resorts, Kōloa Sugar Mill, and Nāwiliwili Harbor.

The tour also inclues a Riverboat Cruise on the Wailua River to see the verdant Fern Grotto as well as ‘Ōpaeka‘a Falls.  Polynesian Adventure Tours offers pick-ups at major Kaua‘i resorts from Po‘ipū to Princeville.

There is also a half-day Waimea Canyon Excursion that travels to Waimea Canyon, Hanapepe Valley, Spouting Horn, south coast Po‘ipū Resorts, and the old Kōloa Sugar Mill.

Another option with Polynesian Adventure Tours is the Ali‘i Movie Excursion and Scenic Hanalei, which takes about 6½ hours.

This ambitious journey includes stops at more than 15 locations including Ahukini Pier, Hanamaulu Bay, Kealia Overlook, Hā‘upu Ridge, Po‘ipū at Kipu Kai, Aliomanu, Hanalei Pier, Lumahai Beach, Ching Young Village, Hanalei Valley Lookout, ‘Ōpaeka‘a Falls, and Menehune Fishpond.

Many famous movie locations are included in this live, narrated tour that also includes licensed video scenes from movies that are part of the tour.

If you have some interest in chocolate, and who doesn’t, then you should check out the Steelgrass Chocolate Farm and their guided tour that explores growing and harvesting chocolate fruit. Dubbed as the Chocolate from Branch to Bar Tour you will also get to see how the plant’s fruit is turned into the delicious treat. Kids twelve and under are free on this tour which lasts about three hours.

Coffee lovers will enjoy the tour at the Kauai Coffee Plantation (808-335-0813) in southwestern Kauai about 17 miles south of Lihue. Kaua‘i Coffee Plantation is Hawaii’s largest coffee plantation, encompassing about 3,400 acres.

Admission and coffee tastings are free at the Kauai Coffee Museum and Visitor Center, which is located in two restored sugar plantation houses and is open from 9 to 5 daily and runs tours from 10 to 4 daily. The road to the Visitor Center is known as “The Coffee Highway” as it goes right through the coffee fields. The Visitor Center and Plantation Tour.

Some highlights of the Kauai Coffee Plantation Tour include seeing some of the old coffee equipment including roasters and grinders, and learning about the coffee plants as you take the 1/8-mile self-guided walk through the fields where informative signs tell you about the plantation. A small roaster on site provides freshly brewed Kauai coffee. Harvest season begins in late September.

Another great agricultural tour takes place at the Gay & Robinson Sugar Plantation which is open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. Located on Kauai’s west side, the Visitor Center exhibits historical and modern equipment along with plantation artifacts.

Gay & Robinson offers a 2-hour Plantation Tour that provides guests with insights into Hawaii’s productive sugarcane era and the immigrant groups that came to the islands from around the world.

The 3-hour Olokele Overlook Tour focuses more on ranch operations and includes a trip to see the 1904 Olokele Ditch as well as a Hydroelectric Plant.
Last but not least among the agricultural tours is the historic Haraguchi Rice Mill (808-651-3399) on Kauai’s north shore in Hanalei.

The Rice Mill Tour includes a visit to the surrounding taro farm as well as the restored rice mill, and includes a picnic lunch where you can taste the taro. Proceeds from these tours help fund the restoration efforts and also educational tours for local schoolchildren.