I'm a Hawaii local who visited the world's largest pineapple maze. Here's what it was like and why I wouldn't go back.
I'm a Hawaii local who visited Oahu's Dole Plantation, home to the world's largest pineapple maze.
I spent nearly three hours at the attraction waiting in line and meandering through the maze.
I felt like I wasted my valuable time there and wouldn't recommend it as a leisurely activity.
I'm a Hawaii local who decided to visit the world's largest pineapple maze at the Dole Plantation.
When you grow up in a vacation destination like Hawaii, it becomes easy to spot tourist traps. However, it's still possible for locals like me to get sucked into one.
While planning a weekend-long camper-van trip on Oahu, I explored the island's activity options and saw that the Dole Plantation was along my route.
It began as a fruit stand in the 1950s and has since become one of the island's most popular attractions, drawing in more than 1 million visitors every year.
Activities like a garden tour, a train ride, and a large maze showcase the history of pineapples in Hawaii.
Though pineapples are an iconic symbol of Hawaii, some may be surprised to learn that the fruits aren't native to the islands. Some locals see them as a reminder of colonialism, labor exploitation, and the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
This is, in part, because James Dole — who founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which later became the Dole Food Company — was related to Sanford B. Dole, who organized the 1893 coup against Queen Lili`uokalani.
I decided to check out the acclaimed maze and experience it from a local perspective, hoping to have a Hawaiian-style "Alice in Wonderland" moment.
Here's what the huge tourist attraction was like.
I drove an hour to get to the Dole Plantation at opening time.
I arrived when the attraction opened at 9:30 a.m. in an attempt to avoid crowds, which I soon found inevitable.
My early arrival made for a streamlined parking experience, but I wasn't the only one who had the idea to show up first thing in the morning.
Visitors swarmed the gift-shop entrance right around opening time.
I walked through an expansive gift shop to find the maze.
If a gift shop takes up a large portion of the property I'm visiting, I usually view it as a telltale sign that I'm in a spot designed for tourists — and that's exactly what I saw at Dole Plantation.
The shelves brim with pineapple-themed and pineapple-flavored souvenirs. There are also dirt-dyed T-shirts, Hawaiian quilts, local pieces of artwork, and Hawaii-made snacks.
This building is the only indoor, air-conditioned part of the attraction, and it's also where the restrooms are located.
There are three activities guests can experience at Dole Plantation.
Activities include a train ride through the pineapple fields and farmland, a self-guided garden tour, and the pineapple maze.
The maze spans over 3 acres, leading the Guinness World Records to name it the world's largest maze in 2008.
Patrons can purchase a ticket for one activity or choose from package deals that include two or three activities.
I paid $7.75 for one kama'aina ticket to the maze.
The maze's entry fees differ by category. Adult tickets cost $8.75 each, and children's tickets cost $6.75 each.
There are also special kama'aina discounts, a local discount for Hawaii residents meant to help offset the high cost of living here and incentivize residents to support local businesses, and military discounts.
Tickets for both groups cost $7.75. Since I'm a Hawaii resident, I qualified for a kama'aina ticket.
The most expensive package is $26, and it includes an adult ticket for the maze, the train ride, and the garden tour.
My ticket came with a physical map, but I also could've downloaded an app.
In the maze, guests try to find all eight secret stations in the shortest amount of time possible.
Though the map lays out each station's exact location, it was of little to no help when I was actually inside the maze since I'm directionally challenged.
There was an app available that would've kept track of my time and which stations I'd uncovered, but I didn't download it since I knew I'd delete it immediately after my visit was over.
Each of the eight stations represents a Hawaiian island.
My favorite part of the experience was the cultural and historical context provided throughout the maze.
Each station represents a Hawaiian island and provides five fun facts — like the island's official flower, animal, or nickname — and information about important figures like King Kamehameha I.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn't find historical context or information about the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom on any of the information boards placed around the property.
The ticket had space to mark down which stations I'd found.
Each station includes a stencil marker that keeps track of which stations guests find.
The symbols are widely associated with Hawaii, like a hula dancer and a palm tree, but I noticed that they don't necessarily correlate with the island that each station represents.
I found all of the stations but wish I'd given up halfway through.
My stubbornness drove me to see how quickly I could complete the maze, even though I wanted to stop about halfway through because it was too hot and sunny outside.
I finished in 55 minutes, which is around the average completion time. When I inquired about the fastest time, I was astonished to find out that the record was eight minutes at the time of my visit.
There are tropical plants to admire throughout the maze.
The maze is made up of 14,000 Hawaiian plants, including hibiscus bushes and other greenery.
I didn't find much variety in the types of plants, and the bushes were dried up in parts of the maze that had more sun exposure, but the overall feeling of being surrounded by native flora was magical.
The pineapple maze wasn't even close to what I expected.
When I envision a pineapple maze, I imagine a sculpted entanglement of pineapple plants, or perhaps a pineapple-shaped maze. But neither of these images accurately describes Dole Plantation's pineapple maze.
Instead, the center of the attraction is shaped like a pineapple, but that part of the maze isn't even walkable.
I topped off my experience with a sweet serving of Dole Whip soft serve.
Inside the gift shop, Plantation Grille offers items that are savory and sweet, including its famous Dole Whip pineapple soft-serve ice cream.
I stood in line for 20 minutes to get a cone, which proceeded to melt all over my hand in the Hawaiian heat. It was tasty, but I don't think it was worth the wait or the sticky fingers.
I spent nearly three hours at the Dole Plantation and wouldn't recommend it as a leisurely activity.
Between standing in long lines and taking an hour to meander through the pineapple maze, I spent a total of 2 1/2 hours at the Dole Plantation, which was about two hours too many for me. I wouldn't go out of my way to visit again.
I left feeling like I'd wasted precious time by spending the majority of my morning at this attraction, which is exactly why many locals consider it a tourist trap. For those seeking a leisurely activity on Oahu, I don't think the pineapple maze is the best option.
But if your heart is set on visiting the Dole Plantation, here's my advice: Skip the gift shop and go straight to the ticket booth for passes to either the train ride or the self-guided garden tour, each of which only takes about 20 minutes. Then, go get pineapple soft serve elsewhere on the island.
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