Set amid palms in lush mountain-side park in busy Waipahu and not far from the former site of the Oahu Sugar Company, Hawaii Plantation Village is a showcase of the lives of Hawaii’s diverse sugar plantation laborers. Once a major industry in the islands, drawing local Hawaiian and immigrant workers from Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, China and Puerto Rico, sugar plantations were both places of employment and proving grounds for cultural fusions—traditions, celebrations, food—that shape the islands to this day.
Hawaii Plantation Village is comprised of 25 buildings built or moved onsite and styled as they would have appeared on plantations throughout the state between 1890 and 1950. A wander through the open-air dormitories, social halls, plantation store, barber shop or bathhouse can feel like you're stepping into a ghost town whose residents may return from the fields at any moment. Kau kau tins—the plantation workers' lunch pails—rest on shelves seeming to await filling; shoes sit outside doorways; family photos hang on the walls; books and diaries remain on nightstands. Artifacts aren't pristine, they're chipped and worn, genuine representations of rugged plantation life. The hour-long tour led by staff docents—several of whom grew up on plantations themselves—is informative and recommended.
Hawaii’s Plantation Village is located at 94-695 Waipahu Street in Waipahu. A sign along Farrington Highway indicates the turn at Waipahu Depot Street—follow it past the Times Supermarket and turn left. The village is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. til 3 p.m. with tours in English and Japanese given on the hour from 10 a.m. til 2 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7 for military, $5 for kids ages 4-11 and kids under 3 are free.