Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum – Kahului, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum

Kahului, Hawaii

Inside, visitors are treated to the rich history of sugar farming and its impact on Hawaiian society.  


Near Puunene, Hawai’i, where feral chickens roam, is a small museum tucked away near an old mill that once processed sugar cane. The sugar mill closed its doors in 2016, but the museum remains.

Sugarcane was introduced to the Hawaiian islands in the early 19th century, and quickly became a big business. The industry was largely controlled by foreign businesses and the descendants of missionary families, and the rapid expansion of sugarcane plantations and processing plants led to massive population growth.

Alexander & Baldwin was part of Hawai’i’s “Big Five,” a group of sugarcane processing corporations that held considerable political power. The company was founded by Samuel Thomas Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin in 1870, when the sugarcane industry was expanding in Hawai’i.

The 1,800-square-foot museum houses artifacts, documents, and photographs from the era when sugar was big business. Exhibits the history of Hawaiian sugarcane plantations and Alexander & Baldwin, a company that helped shape the sugarcane industry in Hawai’i. Inside, visitors are educated on the history of the sugar industry on the island, plantation life, and the effect the industry had on immigration to the island. The museum also explores how the sugar industry and immigration helped shape modern island culture. Outdoor exhibits include massive steam engines that once powered mill equipment, and harvesting machines.

One exhibit shows a woman worker wrapped in cloth from head to toe, despite the stifling heat—to protect her from the scorpions in the cane.

Know Before You Go

Located across the street from the historic Puunene sugar mill, 3957 Hansen Road, Puunene, Maui.

Open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Last admission is at 1 p.m.

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January 10, 2020
April 9, 2024

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