Visiting The Dole Plantation in Hawaii - Ultimate Guide

Visiting The Dole Plantation in Hawaii - Ultimate Guide

Spencer Lowe

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The Dole Food Company was founded in Hawaii in 1901, and eventually became one of Hawaii's biggest corporations. At one time, Dole owned the entire island of Lanai near Maui - and used it as a pineapple farm!

All of Dole’s commercially sold pineapples are grown in other countries today, but some are still grown at the plantation as part of the gardens. It’s also home to a picturesque train ride through the pineapple fields, and the world's largest outdoor maze! Be warned, though - if you go in, you might not make it out before nightfall... just kidding! Oh, and don’t forget to try the Dole Whip ice cream, if you want a snack.

What You Need To Know Before Visiting The Dole Plantation

Before you make your way over to the Dole Plantation, you’ll want to read up on some essential information such as hours, costs, parking, directions, etc. Conveniently, we’ve pulled all of that information for you right here!

Amy Meredith, CC BY ND 2.0, via Flickr

Dole Plantation Hours

The Dole Plantation is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except Christmas Day. Dole Plantation tours and activities close thirty minutes earlier at 5:00.

Fees and Costs

Entrance into the Dole Plantation visitor’s center is free. However, there are several paid tours and activities you’ll probably want to take advantage of. You can book tours online here until 7:00 a.m. the day of or buy tickets at the plantation kiosk when you arrive.

Below are entrance fees for the various activities the Dole Plantation has to offer: 

  • All Activities Combo: $25 for adults, $23 for residents/military, $21 for children
  • Pineapple Maze: $8.25 for adults, $7.25 for residents/military, $6.25 for children
  • Plantation Garden Tour: $7.25 for adults, $6.75 for residents/military, $6.50 for children
  • Plantation Train Tour: $12 for adults, $11.25 for residents/military, $10 for children

Other combination packages are available here. Group rates are available here and require at least 25 people.

If you choose to stop of the visitors center and skip the paid attractions, there are loads of pineapple flavored treats for you to buy. And don't forget about the Instagram-famous Dole Whip! You can pick one up right in the visitor's center for $5.95. Here, you can also watch a pineapple cutting demonstrations (it's actually really interesting) for free!

RELATED: 10 Things to Do on Oahu with Kids

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Directions and Parking

The Dole Plantation is accessed via HI-99. Coming from Honolulu, you’ll probably want to take the H2 north to HI-80 and then get on HI-99 from there. 

If you are coming from the north, take HI-83 out of Haleiwa. HI-83 becomes HI-99. You’ll arrive in roughly ten minutes -- maybe longer depending on exactly how slow island time is moving that day.

Parking is free and there is usually no trouble finding a spot.

To make things easier…

You can take Shaka Guide's Legendary North Shore Loop or Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour, both of these excursions stop at the Dole Plantation and will give you turn-by-turn directions to this sweet spot. Plus, the tour provides useful facts about the Dole Plantation and surrounding area along the way!

What to Bring

You won't need much for your trip to the Dole Plantation, but here are some things you should pack: 

  • Water (you can always buy there if you forget) 
  • Sunscreen - most activities are outside 
  • Comfortable walking shoes - most activities are done by foot

Dole Plantation Oahu Vacation Shaka GuideEnjoy some fresh pineapple when you’re visiting the Dole Plantation / Phoenix Han / Unsplash

There are concession stands, gifts for sale, and fresh pineapple -- bring some extra cash (they accept credit too) if those sound like something you are interested in. You have to try Dole Whip at least once!

What to Expect: Dole Plantation Tours

Everything You Need to Know about the Garden Tour

There are eight themed stops along the Dole Plantation's garden tour. Each mini-garden is a uniquely coordinated experience such as the “Life on the Plantation” garden, the “Native Species Garden”, and “North Shore” garden.

What else does the tour offer?

If you’re able to take a tour during the spring blooming months, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful and fragrant lei flower blooms.

The walking tour takes about an hour to complete.

Everything You Need to Know About the Train Tour

The Pineapple Express is the Dole Plantation’s specially constructed train tour. It takes about twenty minutes to complete (however there's usually a line to ride it), so if you are short on time this might be your best bet.

In addition to learning about the plantation's history, this tour offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and scenery.

You can get a Garden Tour and Train Tour combination here for $15.75 for adults or $12.25 for children.

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Everything You Need to Know about the Dole Plantation Maze

In 2008, the Dole Plantation's Pineapple Garden Maze was named the world's largest maze. It features over three miles of paths, stretches two acres of land and takes an average of 40 minutes to complete. 

You can take as long as you want on the maze, as long as you don’t start just before activities close.

There are no accessibility concerns other than the obvious of needing to walk several miles. The maze is not paved, but it is considered accessible by scooter or powered wheelchair.

The cost to enter is between six and eight dollars depending on your age and residency.

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FAQs and Tips

What is the best time of year to visit the Dole Plantation?

The plantation is lovely all year long, but we would highly recommend visiting during the spring blooming months.

How much time should I plan to spend at the Dole Plantation? 

If you intend to do all the activities -- the maze, garden tour, and train ride -- expect to spend about 4 hours at the Dole Plantation. This includes some time to enjoy a Dole Whip (more on that below). You can obviously adapt based on your time constraints. If you're in a rush, our recommendation is to just do the train ride, you'll learn history and overall with waiting on line and shopping for goodies in the gift shop should take about an hour. 

Do you have any money saving tips?

Of course! Local penny savers and coupon books often have deals for various tour combinations so be sure to grab any of those you see lying around informational pamphlet kiosks. Residents of Hawaii and active duty military members can also get several dollars off. You can also opt to have a Shaka Guide tour take you to the plantation, versus a large bus tour. 

The adjacent Helemano Plantation has cheaper food than Dole and can be walked to without having to move your car. 

What the heck is Dole Whip?!

Delicious, that’s what. It’s also a dairy-free frozen pineapple dessert with a consistency much like frozen yogurt. Get it in a cup, cone, with chunks of fresh pineapple or as a float with pineapple juice. 

Dole Plantation Oahu Vacation Shaka GuideAre you really living if you haven’t tried Dole Whip? / Tony Webster , CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Did You Know Pineapple Isn't Even From Hawaii?

At one time, sugarcane production was the backbone of Hawaii's economy, but the days of "king sugar" are long gone. Despite sugarcane's decline, agriculture still plays a vital role in Hawaii's economy.  On Oahu, some of the most important crops today are pineapple and coffee.

Believe it or not, pineapple is actually not originally from Hawaii. Shocking right? The fruit was introduced from South America, but it has been grown in Hawaii for well over a hundred years. It's a labor-intensive crop, with a single pineapple taking over a year to grow to maturity.

On top of that, most pineapple plants only produce one or two fruits in their lifetimes. At one time, the Hawaiian islands supplied over 90% of the world's pineapples, and although that number is much, much lower today... pineapple is still the fruit most associated with Hawaii internationally. 

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Recapping the Dole Plantation Highlights

Now that the seed is planted, the Dole Plantation tours are probably starting to sound pretty cool, right? Before you leave, lets review.

You’ll want to take plenty of water and sunscreen-up. If you’re going to the plantation, you’ll be spending lots, and no one wants to be dehydrated and sunburned on vacation.

The plantation has three main attractions: the walking Garden Tour, the Train Tour, and the Pineapple Maze. You can get access to all three for about twenty bucks per person. Each takes between 20 minutes and an hour to complete.

And Don’t Forget...

Shaka Guide has TWO tours that visit the Dole Plantation. Check out our Legendary North Shore Loop if you want to visit in the morning or our Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour if you plan to visit in the afternoon. 

This article was originally published April 29, 2019. It has since been updated. 

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