Tourists, not pineapples, bring big money to Hawaii these days. The fruit isn’t native to the islands, but it was once a huge cash crop, one with an interesting history worth exploring on your next visit.
A mere 25 miles north of Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu, pineapples continue to sprout from the rich, red soil at the Dole Plantation. While it’s now as much a tourist attraction as it is a farm, workers still toil in the fields, much as they did when James Drummond Dole, an American industrialist, arrived in 1899.
Once just a roadside stand on the way to Oahu’s now-famous North Shore, the Dole site offers a number of experiences that introduce visitors to the spiky fruit with a golden, sweet middle.
A good way to start your visit is aboard the Pineapple Express, a train with four, open-air passenger cars. The narrow-gauge railroad transports guests on a two-mile trip through the plantation while a guide explains the history of the fruit long associated with Hawaii.
Tickets cost $10.50 for adults and $8.50 for children age 4 to 12.
Dole Plantation also features free pineapple cutting demonstrations, an expansive gift shop and a café. The menu includes pineapple-chili hot dogs and slices of chocolate-covered pineapple.
Visitors wishing to take home a taste of the tropics can purchase whole, ripe pineapples in the gift shop.
If you don’t want to carry around your pineapple purchase, you can use a new service by tour operator Roberts Hawaii and fruit grower Hawaiian Crown. Together, they’re offering at-the-airport delivery of pre-packed, 10-pound boxes of Sweet Gold pineapple grown on Oahu. The airplane-ready boxes cost $28.
The only catch: You must take Roberts Hawaii’s Airport Express shuttle service, which costs an additional $16 one way from Waikiki to Honolulu International Airport (HNL).
Info: Dole Plantation, 64-1550 Kamehameha Highway, Wahiawa; (808) 621-8408