Central Oahu is the area of the island with the Wai’anae range to the west and Honolulu and the Ko’olau range to the east. This area is most noteworthy for military and agricultural uses. But it is also noteworthy as the birthplace of many ali’i, the royalty of Hawaii.
Kūkaniloko birthing stones
Kūkaniloko birthing stones is a very sacred area for the Hawaiian people. This historic site may be 700 years old. A child born here to the ali’i (royalty) was destined for great things. 36 priests would observe and assist the mother during the birth. It is a beautiful central Oahu spot to visit and you can feel the mana (power) there.
This spot is tucked into surrounding pineapple and sugarcane fields and has a fantastic view of the Wai’anae range. On a clear day you can see the pass where the Zero planes flew in to attack Wheeler Field and Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Be very respectful when you visit and don’t touch the petroglyphs on some of the stones. I like to bring lei to leave as a tribute. Be aware that the parking driveway only accommodates 3 or 4 cars. Subsequently, if a tour bus is there, you may want to go do something else and come back. Be prepared to walk through a muddy path.
Dole Plantation began as a roadside fruit stand for Dole products in 1950 and is now a major tourist attraction. The central Oahu plantation is surrounded by fields of pineapple, coffee, cocoa, fruit trees, and garden plants. A visit to Dole includes a huge gift shop with different vendors and the Pineapple Express train tour through the fields. In addition, there is a pineapple garden with an amazing variety of pineapple species, a garden tour, and the world’s largest maze. The large store carries so many things you might like to take home from Hawaii. For example, they have lots of food products, including candy and barbecue sauces. Also, there are home goods such as quilts, aprons, and potholders. They’ve got T shirts and baby clothes. And you can even find golf accessories with the Dole logo.
James Dole established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in the early 1900s. The choice of the large yellow fruit we are used to (“smooth cayenne”) resulted from experimentation with different species of pineapple. This variety worked well in the canning process. Canning was once a major industry on Oahu. The old Dole Cannery is now a shopping mall on the Ewa side of downtown Honolulu.
Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield
Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield have served the US military goals in the Pacific for over a hundred years. Both facilities were attacked during the Pearl Harbor attack. Schofield Barracks is the prominent location in the film From Here to Eternity. These bases are on the west side of Wahiawa town in central Oahu. The Tropic Lightning Museum’s phone number is (808) 655-0438. Call ahead to make sure you can visit. Enter at the Lyman Gate on Kunia Road and be sure to bring ID and rental car information.
Manulele Distillers is between Wahiawa and Waipahu on Kunia Road. The owners have been searching the islands for heirloom varieties of sugarcane, brought over by the Polynesians about a thousand years ago. They are then are using old Del Monte fields in central Oahu to grow varietals of sugarcane they’ve found. They have built the distillery to produce Kō Hana agricole rum, each one featuring the taste of heirloom sugarcane. The rum is “rested” in oak barrels.
Several progressive bartenders around the island feature Kō Hana in their drinks program, but you can also visit Manulele to tour the fields or the tasting room. Be sure to call or go online to check for openings for these tours. The Gardener and I especially loved our visit there. The still is a thing of beauty and I loved poking around the grounds to find the many colors of the cane. I liked sipping the rum (agricole is a fresher taste than aged rum), but I also enjoyed it mixed with lilikoi (passion fruit) soda!
Be sure to check out Pearl Harbor and Moanalua Gardens in central Oahu also!
Central Oahu map
Grabbing a bite
Dole Plantation has a café. For more food options, check Yelp, Urbanspoon, or your favorite app for Wahiawa (famous Shige’s Saimin Stand!) or Waipahu (Highway Inn, Elena’s).
From Waikiki, take Ala Wai Boulevard to McCully Street. Follow the signs to H1 going west (Ewa). As you approach Pearl City, watch carefully for the exit for H2. At mile marker 8 in Wahiawa, take the exit to route 80 going north, Kamehameha Highway. After passing through Wahiawa, start watching on the left after you cross the bridge. There is a light at the intersection with route 804, and the small driveway for the birthing stones is on the left (there is a small Hawaii historic marker.)
Continue north on route 80 to merge into route 99 headed north. The entrance to the Dole Plantation parking lot will be on your right.
To head to Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Air Field, take a left out of Dole onto route 99. Stay on 99 until route 803, Wilikina Drive. Go to the left, south. Make a right on route 750, Kunia Road. Follow the signs for Lyman Gate.
Next, to visit Manulele Distillers, home of Kō Hana rum, continue south on route 750. Watch carefully on the right for the Kunia Camp agricultural village and post office. Manulele is on the left as you enter Kunia Drive.
If using The Bus, Route 52 goes to Wahiawa.
Resource links for Central Oahu
- Ko Hana Hawaiian agricole rum
- Schofield Barracks/Fort Shafter
- Cultural significance of birthing stones at Kukaniloko
- Dole Plantation
- Dole Cannery
- Cannery Tales from Honolulu magazine
I’ll be looking for comments below, or contact me at lisa [at] thecasabouquet[dot]com.
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