Visit These Two Charming Hamakua Museums

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

Visit These Two Charming Hamakua Museums: Hawaii Plantation Museum & Laupahoehoe Train Museum

Arguably the most diverse and unique island in the Pacific island chain, Hawaii’s Big Island is known for its outdoor activities, volcanic activity, and luxurious resorts. But being the birthplace of the Kingdom of Hawaii and home to Hawaiian royalty for generations, the Big Island is an important historical and cultural hub for both traditional Hawaiian culture and post-European influence and the industries that came with it.

For visitors interested in learning more about how these industries shaped modern Hawaii, these two charming museums along the Hamakua side of the island show just how impactful export industries were to Hawaiian workers and landowners – and how devastating the downturn of sugarcane was to the local economy.

Hawaii Plantation Museum
27-246 Old Mamalahoa Hwy
Papaikou, HI 96781
Open: Tues – Sat 10 AM – 3 PM

Located within the old Onomea Sugar Plantation Store, the museum covers the vital sugarcane industry spanning from the 1800s to near present-day, when the last mill in the region closed in 1996.

Founded in 2004 by Wayne Subica, the Hawaii Plantation Museum today shows his 50-year collection of tools, everyday goods, pictures, and documents surrounding life on a sugarcane plantation.

Laupahoehoe Train Museum
36-2377 Mamalahoa Hwy
Laupahoehoe, HI 96764
Open: Thurs-Sun 10 AM – 5 PM

Offering a glimpse of the history of the now-defunct railroad system on the Big Island, the Laupahoehoe Train Museum is one of the smallest museums in the entire state, but garners more than 5,000 visitors per year.

Located in an old train station agent’s home, the museum is outfitted according to period-specific furnishings and standards, showing how life on the railroad changed and evolved as the demand for sugarcane dropped. Offering a wealth of photographs, artifacts, and a model train set that, yes, is interactive, the museum is a fun and educational stop as you journey through the Big Island’s formerly industrious northern side.

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