Old Kōloa Town is a delightful small community with roots that germinated during the plantation era. The historic town, which has since been restored and rejuvenated, was home to the first successful sugarcane operation in Hawai‘i. Evidence of the town’s growth since production began in 1835 remains in the nostalgic buildings that decorate Kōloa Road, as well as features like the 30-foot brick smokestack from the mill’s original site.
Many of the descendants of immigrants who came to work at the former sugar mill operation continue to reside here and their multi-cultural heritage is celebrated each year during Kōloa Plantations Days, a spectacular 10-day festival in July. No worries if you can’t make the event, however, there are other ways to immerse yourself in the sweet ambiance of this town.
Check out some or all of the 10-mile Kōloa Heritage Trail, Ke Ala Hele Waiwai Ho‘olina o Kōloa. Walk or drive to the area’s most significant cultural and geological sites on this self-guided tour, including an ancient Hawaiian heiau (temple), Kihahouna. Download a copy of the trail guide at poipubeach.org/local-resources/visitor-info/koloa-heritage-trail.
Down and Dirty
Kaua‘i ATV offers exclusive rugged tours near Kōloa plantation’s last production site — the operation closed in the mid-1990s but you can still see its massive remnants along the bypass road, Ala Kinoiki. Each fun-filled bumpy tour takes you through private land while also plunging into a historic cane haul tunnel and treating you to sweeping vistas of the Hā‘upu mountain range.
For those who would rather keep their clothes clean, shopping along the monkeypod tree-lined the main strip of Old Town Kōloa is a great option. Galleries featuring local artwork, as well as stores perfect for souvenir hunting, are right at your fingertips.
Food trucks are one way to go if you feel hunger pangs in Kōloa. Another is picking up some true local flavors at Kōloa Fish Market or the Sueoka Snack Shop and taking them to the beach to devour in a shady nook. Or, sit down to a relaxing brunch or dinner at La Spezia, an Italian eatery with inviting rustic décor that’s just as charming as the rest of the town.
Rather than rushing past on your way to the bustling Po‘ipū Beach, take your time getting to know the quaint, historic town of Kōloa and its deep neighborly roots.