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August 1, 2014 Update - I'm sorry to say that the Sugar Cane Train has closed its doors.
Although it gets mixed reviews, I'm SO glad we got to ride
on this super cool replica steam engine! The "whoo whooooo" of the
train whistle, a giant WHOOSH of steam, great views and ukulele music
dancing through the air are a magical combination. More on why we loved this Maui attraction...
For starters, we thoroughly enjoyed the views of the ocean...
And the majesty of the West Maui Mountains...
A very nice touch indeed was that ukulele
music played by our friendly narrator!
(Tip: sit in the train car WITH the narrator so you don't miss out on the ukulele music... the train's PA system is not the greatest, but if you're sitting right next to him, you'll hear it just fine!)
Have you heard mixed reviews about the views?
It's true. All the views aren't post-card perfect.
As the train left Lahaina, we saw the cramped backyards that is the best many Maui locals can afford, residential streets, backs of commercial buildings and the like.
yes, we even saw a golf course, and views of the highway.
But so what? This is the real Maui - all of it - and I was glad to catch a glimpse!
The so-called "right" side of the train is the side where you'll see the ocean views. The so-called "wrong" side is the one where you'll be looking out at the West Maui Mountains, residential neighbourhoods, golf courses etc. In reality, I don't think there really is a "wrong" side to sit on. You just have to know WHEN to sit on the so-called "wrong" side of the train!
Best time to sit on the wrong side of the train: Be sure to sit on the "wrong side" of the train when it steams along from
Kaanapali Station to Puukoli Staion. You'll be rewarded at the end with a very
cool sight that you don't get on the "good" side of the train.
At Puukoki Station, the passenger cars that you are riding in get parked while the engine turns around. You'll be treated to the sight of an old train yard...
Complete with the Sugar Cane Train puffing around the tracks on it's own!
To be perfectly
honest, even though we were on the "wrong" side from Lahaina to
Kaanapali to Puukoli Staion, I still enjoyed the views out my window... maybe it was just
because I expected some of the non-touristy views... or maybe it's
because I didn't have the so-called "good views" to compare to yet... In any case, it was all good!
I loved the view of the engine blowing steam as we crossed the 325-foot long wooden Hahakea Trestle! I took this pic on our way back to Lahaina from Kaanapali.
Check out the thick brush whipping past the window in the photo to the right.
Especially if you have little ones with you, keep an eye out the window for occasionally thick vegetation that brushes up against the train as you whip past. You'd hate to have them too close to the window and get a scrape and a scare.
At Puukoli Station, there is a small farmers market where you can pick
up some yummy fresh coconuts, vegetables and fruit (how about these
delectable mini-bananas... oooo, so sweet!) Or maybe buy a Maui Gold
Pineapple to chop up for dessert at your condo later in the evening. (or
even grill it... mmmmm... sounds odd maybe, but it's delicious! But I
At both the Lahaina Station and Puukoli Station, you can buy snacks like Maui Onion potato chips, cold drinks and shave ice. But be quick so you don't miss the train leaving!
Also at the Lahaina Station, there is a cute souvenir shop selling all
kinds of train-themed merchandise: books starring Thomas the Tank Engine
and "The Little Engine That Could," postcards, "Maui Sugar Cane Train"
wooden train sets, travel mugs, model trains... you name it, they've got
There is a really neat train engine parked on the lawn beside the station here. You can even climb up the ladder and get in as if you're driving the train!
This is where you'll get to see them refill the steam engine - not something we get to see every day back home, that's for sure! (pictured below, right)
The train was used for transporting hand-cut cane to the mills for processing between 1890 and around 1950. Then it became more economical to transport the cane via motorized vehicles, so the train was retired.
In 1970, A. W. "Mac" McKelvy and the Makai Corporation got together to launch the new Lahaina, Kaanapali and Pacific Railroad, which was commonly called the "Sugar Cane Train." Sadly, after little more than 2 years, the train service was again shut down.
But not for long...
In 1973, the train service was re-started and even had the President Willis B. Kyle present for launch day!
Tip: If you're interested in history, be sure to get off the train and stretch your legs at the Kaanapali Station. They've got some posters there that detail a little bit of the history of the railroad on Maui.
When we went, kids under the age of 3 were free, and ages 3-12 were discounted to 15.95. Adults cost 22.95. So not too bad! And you're free to get off on any of the stops to shop and sightsee before getting back on the train for your return trip.
If you have questions about this Maui attraction, chances are it'll be answered in my Sugar Cane Train FAQ's.
There is a map showing where all 3 stations are, a copy of the train schedule so you'll have an idea of what to expect, and all kinds of other good stuff!
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