Before Kauai was a world-renowned vacation destination, it had another colossal industry: sugar. Since the early 1800s, sugarcane has been big business on Kauai. While the once thriving industry has now faltered on the Garden Isle, remnants remain.
If you are interested in learning about the history of Kauai, you have to learn about the island’s dalliance with the sugar industry. The team at Parrish Kauai is here to help; we are here to give you an insight into the history of sugar plantations on Kauai.
Sugar Plantations on Kauai: An Early History
Sugarcane grew in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain James Cook sailed here in 1778. As more and more people traveled to Hawaii, it was thought that the islands’ combination of fertile soil and warm but not hot climate was perfect for growing sugarcane. However, it was not until 1825 that the first sugarcane plantation was established on Oahu. It did not last long, the plantation folded within two years, but it inspired others to try their hand at creating sugar plantations in the Hawaiian Islands.
Ten years after the plantation on Oahu was open for business, Ladd and Company started a sugarcane plantation in Koloa, Kauai. It did not take long for this venture to be viewed as a success. In 1837, two years after the first plantation on Kauai opened its doors, two tons of sugar were exported from Hawaii, the first sugar export from the islands.
A New Crop of Plantations Rise
Following the success of the Ladd and Company sugar plantation, other entrepreneurs decided to establish more plantations. In 1835, there were 50 acres of sugarcane fields on Kauai, but that number grew fast. By 1900, plantations dedicated 100,000 acres of Kauai land to growing sugarcane.
The Fall of the Sugar Industry on Kauai
By the 1920s, Hawaii’s once-booming sugarcane industry began to slow. The islands’ share of the sugar market in the U.S. fell. As a result, many plantations moved to other destinations throughout the world to take advantage of cheaper labor. However, some sugar plantations managed to hang on; in fact, there were still 14 plantations in 1980.
Sugar Plantations on Kauai Today
Today, there are no active sugarcane plantations on Kauai. However, the presence of the industry has left a permanent mark on the island that you can still explore today. Visit the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa, the second sugar mill built by Ladd and Company back in 1841.
Another sugar plantation attraction is the Kilohana Plantation train tour. During this tour, you will enjoy a 2.5-mile train ride around the plantation, get to walk the grounds, eat lunch at The Plantation House, located on the ground’s original courtyard, and more.
Another popular activity involving Kauai’s sugar plantations is sugar plantation tubing. Hand-dug ditches, built for irrigation, brought water to sugarcane fields. Today, you can take a relaxing tube ride where these ditches were built.
Discover Kauai’s History
You can explore Kauai’s fascinating sugarcane plantation history when you stay in a well-appointed vacation rental from Parrish Kauai. We are the island’s leader in luxury travel and would love to host your next getaway to Kauai. To stay with us, please check availability online or give us a call at 1-800-325-5701.