For people staying at the tourist resort area of Poipu on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai the nearest town to do any shopping is the Old Koloa Town that is a 5-10 minute drive from most locations on the South Shore:
Koloa is a really interesting place to check out since it gives visitors an idea of what the old sugar plantation days of the village was like. Most of the old plantation buildings in town have meticulously restored into local businesses, touristy shops, and homes:
There is even an old Salvation Army building preserved in Koloa:
Not all the buildings have been restored such as this old home that sits on a really nice piece of land adjacent to the downtown area:
Considering its prime real estate location I actually found it kind of odd no one has fixed up this home yet. The best place to learn more about Koloa is to stop by the Koloa History Center in the middle of downtown:
The history center gives a really nice introduction to the sugar plantation history of Koloa. Additionally throughout the Koloa are there are these interpretive markers that help explain the history of the village:
Here is a picture of the service station described in the marker that has been converted into a store that sells shirts to tourists:
My daughter liked this statue of an old guy hanging out on a bench in front of the building:
Here is a power tip for visitors to Kauai. Instead of paying the exorbitant food prices for meals at the resorts and hotels; buy food from one of the two markets in Koloa such as the Sueoka Market which is located in downtown:
Just buying breakfast foods here like cereal to eat in your hotel room can save you a lot of money over the course of a stay on Kauai. Something else about Koloa that will stand out to visitors is the number of large monkeypod trees around the town:
Some of them are quite old such as this one in downtown with its own sign that points out that was planted by Howard Yamamoto back in 1925:
Another interesting site within the town is the Koloa Jodo Mission:
This mission is the first Japanese Jodo Shu temple built in Kauai by Reverend Jissei Muroyama in 1910:
Something else that can be seen around Koloa is the sugarcane fields that surround the town:
Sugar cane is no longer commercially harvested in Koloa and what is seen today is just remnants of what is left from these long gone plantations. Right across the street from downtown Koloa is what is left of the first sugar mill built in Koloa back in 1835:
The town itself would spring up shortly after the mill opened to service the workers. Next to the sugar mill ruin is a memorial to the workers who made a living working in the fields around Koloa supporting the sugar industry:
When I visited the memorial it appeared that it needed some maintenance and cleaning, but regardless it was nice to see something to commemorate the workers who made the sugar industry possible in Hawaii:
The last sugar mill in the Koloa area closed back in 1996 ending the sugar based economy for the area. You can read more and see pictures of the sugar mill at the below posting:
On Walkabout: Drive From Lihue to Poipu Beach
Here is the view from the memorial looking back at downtown Koloa as the sun was setting on another great day in Hawaii:
One final interesting site just outside of Koloa is the Saint Raphael Catholic Church:
I am not Catholic, but I just like looking at the architecture of some these old churches. Here is a brief history of St. Raphael’s from the church’s website:
St. Raphael’s was founded in 1841; two years after Catholics were granted religious freedom in Hawaii after the French threatened Honolulu. Father Arsenius Walsh established the parish.
The first stone chapel was built by Father Walsh in 1842. In preparation for the Centennial anniversary in 1941, the Chapel sanctuary was rebuilt by parishioners.
The present sanctuary of St. Raphael’s Church in Koloa, Kauai was completed in December 1854, however the blessing did not take place until October 24,1856 to coincide with the feast day of St. Raphael the Archangel.
Unfortunately I have never been on Kauai when the Koloa Plantation Days Festival occurs in July each year. The locals say this is the best time to visit Koloa. Even if I have not visited Koloa when it puts its best face forward I still have to say I enjoy this charming little village whenever I do visit. It sugarcane past is now long gone, but its memory can still be seen in Old Koloa Town.