All Aboard the Pineapple Express!

I know Hawaii has beautiful beaches and historic Pearl Harbor. It’s got mountains and palm trees, volcanoes, grass skirts and manta rays. All of these things are, I’m sure, wonderful and attract tourists in their own right.

But Hawaii’s got something else, too.

It’s got pineapples.

Boxed pineapples
Pineapple perfection.

I’ll just take this time to say that I really, really, like pineapples. You know how people ask ridiculous ‘what if’ questions, like “What if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life?”

Well, I take those questions really seriously, and I decided that my choice would be pineapples.

Luckily, my family also has a weird obsession with pineapples, so they were just as jazzed as I was about checking out the Dole Pineapple Plantation on the way back from Pearl Harbor. (That’s right. We went to Pearl Harbor on the same day, but I’ve decided to write about pineapples.)

This probably wasn’t so lucky for Jared & his parents, who I believe like pineapples but aren’t quite ready to eat them exclusively.

On arrival, we immediately made a beeline for the cafe, where the lady behind the counter extorted $5 out of each of us for a Pineapple Whip.

As far as I can tell, it was a pineapple ice cream cone. That was fine with me, because ice cream was a close competitor for my rest-of-your-life food choice.

Jared didn’t fare so well, as he got another ice cream headache.

Pineapple Whip Dole
Ice cream headaches are Jared's kryptonite.

In a shining example of happy coincidence, we finished our ice creams precisely when the pineapple demonstration was beginning.

The woman started her demonstration by telling us the four steps to choosing a perfect pineapple. I was so excited about this that I committed the steps to memory, and will now share them with you. (Aren’t you glad you’re reading today?)

Pineapple Demo Dole
Pineapple demonstration? I'm there.

1. Lightly squeeze the pineapple. It should be firm, not squishy.

2. Check out the ‘eyes’ of the pineapple. Those are the hexagon-shaped markings all over the skin. They should be of equal size everywhere. If they’re smaller towards the top, the pineapple was picked too early. Larger eyes indicate a sweeter pineapple.

3. Look at the dot underneath the pineapple. It should be white, not grey or brown. A pineapple is good for 10 days after it’s picked, so if the color isn’t white anymore, that’s an indicator that it has been on the shelf for too long.

4. Take a whiff. Your pineapple should smell slightly sweet. If it smells too strong, or ‘oversweet,’ it’s overripe.

The color of your pineapple doesn’t really matter – it can be yellow or green, but as long as it passes the four steps above, it should be a good one.

The woman expertly twisted off the leafy crown of her perfect pineapple, pruning it slightly before dropping it in a bowl of water.

“After a few weeks, you will see roots start to sprout,” she explained. “At that point, you can plant the pineapple.”

Pineapple roots Dole plantation
Wait. You can GROW your OWN?

I got really excited about the prospect of my own pineapple plant, until she delivered the kicker.

“In 18-22 months, you will have a single pineapple.”

ONE pineapple after TWO years? I think I’ll keep buying them from the farmer’s market.

I feasted on pineapple samples until the woman started giving me disapproving looks. Apparently going up three times is a little greedy.

After that we were faced with a dilemma: Pay $6 to take on the World’s Largest Maze, or $8 for the Pineapple Express. There was also a walking tour of the plantation, but after Pearl Harbor, none of us were overly motivated to walk around.

Spoiled for choice at the Dole Plantation
Which one will it be?

Now my initial reaction is to jump up and down with excitement until someone lets me into the maze.

MAZE? Like in Harry Potter? How great is that?

Actually, not that great.

I think it’s shaped like a pineapple, but you can only see that from the air. That’s -5 cool points right there.

There are eight checkpoints, and the record for reaching them and exiting the maze is six minutes. On average, it takes people 30 minutes to complete.

If you’re ‘geographically challenged,’ it can take hours.


I went through a maze once in Puzzling World over in New Zealand. It sounded cool, but it wasn’t. It was confusing. There were lots of kids. I couldn’t find the exit for ages.

So we took the train.

Pineapple Express Dole Hawaii
Choo Choo!

Within minutes of deciding, we were aboard the Pineapple Express, a little Disney-like train that chugs around a two-mile loop in the plantation. You get a mix of Hawaiian music and pineapple facts over the course of 20 minutes, all for eight dollars.

It’s amazing the things you’ll shell out money for while on vacation, but I’m prepared to say it was eight dollars well spent.

We saw fake people, which I always enjoy.

Pineapple Express people
Well, howdy!

We saw pineapple plants.

Pineapple plants Dole
According to the train's audio tour, a skilled worker can plant 10,000 plants by hand in a day's work. I have my doubts.

We saw tourist-brochure views.

Scenery from pineapple express
Well, that's pretty.

We also saw a bunch of plants and stuff, but I didn’t get any good pictures of them because the train was moving surprisingly swiftly.

What we didn’t do at the plantation was buy any pineapples. At $6.28 a pop, they were still cheaper at the local supermarket.

One of 120 varieties of pineapple.
This is one of a staggering 120 varieties of pineapple. Who knew there were that many?

Although, considering that it takes nearly 2 years to produce its first fruit, a $6 pineapple just might be worth it.

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  1. Mmmm, pineapples. A friend of mine in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica lives in pineapple country. They basically give away the extra pineapples! I ate a lot of pineapple while I was there… Also I know what you mean about the Puzzling World maze… but I did love Puzzling World!

    1. I can’t even look at the Korean pineapples since I’ve been back (even though I think they’re from the Philippines and actually do taste good)! I loved Puzzling World, too. It was pretty fantastic.

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