WAHIAWA -- No visit to Oahu would be complete without a drive to
the North Shore for a visit to the Dole Plantation.
Originally opened as a fruit stand in 1950, its central building
took on its present form in 1989.
The interior underwent a $125,000 renovation in 1997 that
divided it into many sections, or "shops," offering
pineapple-related and Dole brand items.
Other attractions that help lure nearly 1 million visitors a
year are the Pineapple Express train ride, the Pineapple Garden
Maze and the Plantation Garden Tour.
On a recent visit, my husband and I started our day by shopping.
By far the most popular area is the counter serving
pineapple-flavored ice cream cones. Another favorite is the logo
shop that offers hats, shirts and other Dole souvenirs.
The country store sells soaps, monkey-pod wood bowls, clocks in
the shape of surfboards and other easy-to-pack items.
An aerial photo is the only way to appreciate the vastness of
the Pineapple Garden Maze. The 100,000-square-foot garden, with 1.7
miles of pathway, was labeled the world's largest maze by the
Guinness Book of World Records.
We were given a map with colored dots identifying the locations
of tiny wooden kiosks we were supposed to find, but I can't say
that it helped us much.
At each kiosk, we colored the appropriate box on our stamp card,
proving that we actually found that checkpoint. Starting and
finishing times are also clocked on the card.
Those who fill all six boxes the fastest get their names posted
in the booth at the entrance to the maze. We did not make the
The train tour
We joined the Pineapple Express Train Tour, a two-mile excursion
through pineapple fields with the Koolau and Waianae mountains as a
A narrator told us the story of James Dole, who built the first
pineapple cannery in Wahiawa in 1901 and in 1922 bought the island
of Lanai to create the largest pineapple plantation in the
The garden tour
The most recent addition to the Dole Plantation is the garden
tour. Self-directed or with a tour guide, it introduces visitors to
plants, flowers and fruits grown on the North Shore.
Staff members at Dole offer pineapple-cutting demonstrations and
teach visitors how to select a pineapple.
Their advice: Choose one that is plump and fresh-looking, with
green leaves in the crown. Size doesn't matter, and the color of
the shell isn't always a sign of maturity and ripeness. The fruit
could be ripe even when the outside is nearly all green.
Because visitors can have pineapples shipped home from the
country store, they should know that once a pineapple is picked, it
won't get any sweeter or riper. It can be kept fresh in the
refrigerator but should be eaten as soon as possible.
The Pineapple Garden Maze costs $5 for adults and $3 for
children ages 4 to 12. The Pineapple Express Train Tour costs $7.50
for adults and $5.50 for children. The Plantation Garden Tour costs
$3.50 for adults, $2.50 for children. A combined fare for the train
and garden tour is available for $9 for adults, $7 for children.
Group tours and parties are available for 25 or more people.
Educational groups should inquire about student tours.
The plantation is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more
information, call (808) 621-8408 or visit www.dole-plantation.com.
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