Lihue Plantation Co. has all but razed the 75-year-old plantation camp at Ahukini. Grass and weeds are taking over on homesites around the small bay south of the main road. Only five houses remain standing in the entire camp.
Ahukini was originally developed in 1890 as a passenger and freight terminal in the days when inter-island vessels carried Kauai sugar to Honolulu for trans-shipment.
The first pier in Hanamaulu Bay was a concrete block at Kou on the north side of the bay. Sugar was carried out to the boats in lighters.
Starting about 1890 a small concrete pier was built on the south side of the bay at which inter-island vessels could tie up directly. The first eight houses at Ahukini were built by Lihue Plantation at that time.
Ahukini’s period of greatest development began about 1919 and continued until the port of Nawiliwili was opened in 1930.
Prior to 1919 most sugar plantations had their own piers and the inter-island freighters made a circuit around the island to load and discharge cargo. There were piers at Waimea, Kealia, Anahola and Hanalei. The ships also stopped at Koloa and Port Allen.
The Ahukini Terminal & Railway Co. was organized at about that time to link all plantations and pineapple canneries east of the Waimea River with the harbor at Ahukini. A new breakwater was built to permit Matson freighters of that day to tie up at the pie. This was a first for East Kauai.
Two warehouses were built close to the pier for storing bagged sugar in 1918. Thirty four houses were built between 1922 and 1925, on the makai side of the county road and along the shore toward Nawiliwili Light.
In its heyday the Ahukini Terminal & Railway Co. operated freight trains between Ahukini, Koloa and Waimea over plantation rights-of-way and on the north side to Kealia and Kilauea. When the harbor at Nawiliwili was completed a spur was built to that port.
Alexander & Baldwin operated a similar railway out of Port Allen known as the Kauai Railway Co. In the late 1920’s Kauai Railway Co. began handling some cargo by truck. In more recent years Kauai Railway Co. became Kauai Commercial Co. and the terminal operations were merged with Ahukini Terminal & Railway Co. to form Kauai Consolidated Terminals.
The small 4,000 ton Matson freighters in use before World War II continued to call at Ahukini regularly, but the bulk of inter-island and mainland cargo moved through Nawiliwili. After the war when Matson Navigation Co. modernized its fleet with bigger vessels, only Standard Oil Co. tankers called at Ahukini.