Gay & Robinson
Lonely Planet review for Gay & Robinson
Olokele exists only for the Olokele Sugar Company, the last remaining sugar producer on Kaua'i, and Kaumakani exists only as the headquarters of Gay & Robinson, owners of this plantation and the island of Ni'ihau.
Sugar once ruled Kaua'i's economy but, when Lihue Plantation closed in 2000 due to unprofitability, Gay & Robinson became the sole diehard. In the entire state, only one other sugar company remains: Hawaii Commercial & Sugar on Maui.
The road to Gay & Robinson headquarters and the sugar mill, which comes up immediately after the 19-mile marker on Kaumuali'i Hwy, is shaded by lovely tall trees and lined with classic century-old lampposts. Taking this short drive offers a glimpse into plantation life. Everything is covered with a layer of red dust from the surrounding fields. Quite a few indigenous Ni'ihauans live in this area, many of them working for the Robinsons.
At the end of the road is a simple visitors center , which is more gift shop than anything. More interesting are the two-hour mill tours, especially when the mill is actually munching the cane and cranking out the sugar, which isn't always the case. To further explore the vast ranchland, Gay & Robinson also offers ATV tours (around US$99 to around US$150; reservations required). Unlike other ATV tours, this one focuses on the landscape and history, not thrill-riding, and reaches an elevation of 1500ft.