Kauai has several notable abandoned places to check out on your visit to the island!
If walls could talk, these abandoned places on Kauai would certainly have some interesting stories to tell. From a former resort favored by past Hollywood greats, to a giant sugar mill used recently in a Fast & Furious movie, Kauai has its share of abandoned structures. Slowly being reclaimed by nature, these ruins will intrigue you with vestiges of bygone eras.
1. Coco Palms Resort
Map: Google Maps
On Kauai’s east side in Wailua, nature is reclaiming a once-glamorous hotel that hosted stars such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Opened in 1953, the photogenic Coco Palms Resort was featured in several films including Presley’s Blue Hawaii. The resort was largely destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and has sat neglected and abandoned for more than 40 years. Located next to Kauai’s main highway at one of its most trafficked spots, the derelict resort has been a major eyesore and a serious point of contention for the island. The resort was built on land that is considered ancient Hawaiian royal property and today the property is locked in a bitter dispute between Native Hawaiians seeking to protect the sacred land and developers intent on rebuilding the resort.
The Coco Palms property is fenced and off-limits. For the past 25 years, Bob “Kauai” Jasper has been conducting private tours of the 50-acre property. However, Jasper reports the tours will cease after March 31st, 2023 due to planned construction. Developers are planning to build a new 250-room hotel on the property, but based on past experience, we will believe it when we see it.
2. Koloa Sugar Mill
Map: Google Maps
Looming large over the landscape east of Old Koloa Town, this abandoned sugar mill was recently featured as a set location for the 2019 Fast & Furious spinoff movie Hobbs & Shaw. The Sugar Mill of Koloa (not to be confused with the remains of an older sugar mill located in central Koloa) was built in 1912 and abandoned in 1996.
The property (and much of the surrounding area) is owned by Stephen Case of AOL fame. A fence surrounds the property and access is prohibited. You can go up to the fence to see the rusting structure that is being overgrown with vegetation. Several rusting vehicles can also be seen on the property.
3. Club Med Ruins
Map: Google Maps
Once known only to local residents, travel guidebooks and social media have highlighted this unique set of abandoned concrete structures on a beautiful promontory overlooking Hanalei Bay. At least two-dozen concrete slabs and structures can be found on the property, giving the setting the look and feel of an ancient abandoned temple. The structures are from a failed 1980s condo venture that never came to fruition. Before this venture, the site was the location of a Club Med Resort in the 1970s that had been converted from the 1960s-era Hanalei Plantation Hotel. Despite the 1980s project, the location is popularly known as the Club Med Ruins.
Unlike some other abandoned places on Kauai, access to the location is permitted (as long as you use caution and stay off the structures, according to signs on the property). There are two ways to reach the ruins. The most popular way is to start at Puu Poa Beach at 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay and walk down the beach and through the trees (towards Hanalei Bay) until you see the short trail that goes up to the property. The other way is to walk down from Hanalei Plantation Road starting near the Nourish Hanalei food stand.
PHOTO: Historic American Engineering Record, Creator, and Department Of Land & Natural Resources. Hanalei Pier, Hanalei Bay off Weke Road, Hanalei, Kauai County, HI. Hanalei Hawaii Kauai County, 1968. translateds by Gill, Barry Leemitter Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/hi0207/.
Above is a very interesting photo from 1968 that shows the location of the Club Med Ruins in relation to the Hanalei Pier. In the upper left corner of the photo you can see the Hanalei Plantation Hotel (the location of the so-called Club Med Ruins). That ridge is now free of buildings except for the ruins.
4. Pineapple Dump Pier
Map: Google Maps
The remains of the Pineapple Dump Pier can be found jutting out over the ocean on the Kapaa Bike Path. The concrete pier was used in the early-to-mid 1900s by a local pineapple processing plant to discard the unusable parts of pineapples (the crowns and stems) into the ocean. Located at the end of railroad tracks, mini trains would back up to the pier to dump the waste.
To see the pier, head north for approximately a half-mile on the Kapaa Bike Path from Kealia Beach. You will see the pier on your right before Donkey Beach. A waist-high fence in front of the pier does little to keep people off the structure. Nearby is a covered pavilion for a picnic, and in season, the pier area is an advantageous place for whale watching.