Our recent family vacation on Oahu included a fantastic trip to the Kualoa Ranch. This historic cattle ranch is located on the windward side of the Island, a scenic 45 minute drive from Waikiki, looking out to the coast and Chinaman’s Hat . We arrived about an hour before our Movie Location Tour which allowed us to stroll through the spacious gift shop and meander around the ranch headquarters. This is the starting point for a variety of horseback, ATV, jungle, movie site and ocean tours.
Upon presenting our movie site tour pass to the driver we were ushered onto a rustic bus with a friendly “aloha”. Kind memories of elementary school field trips flooded through my mind as we chose our seats and lowered the windows. Our tour began with a leisurely roll through the historic beginnings of Kualoa. In 1850 King Kamehameha III sold 622 acres to his personal advisor Dr. Gerritt P. Judd. We rolled by the remains of the old sugar mill, and a small herd of long horn cattle posed for pictures as we passed.
Our driver provided a lively history of the ranch and was sure to point out the remnants of the World War II airstrip and bunkers, one of which he claimed was his house. As the bus climbed around the western end of the picturesque ridge of steep sharp mountains that gave the ranch its name (Kualoa means “long back” in Hawaiian) we were treated to endless views of the Pacific Ocean and the coast of Oahu.
The bus stopped at a large concrete bunker overlooking the Rainbow Coast where we walked through a gallery of movie posters and memorabilia from shows filmed on the ranch including a submarine prop from the TV show LOST. Back into the bus and we rolled into the beautiful Ka’a’awa Valley, one of the most filmed locations in Hawaii. Still an active cattle ranch, film crews come to this valley for the quintessential tropical Island back drop.
The bus bumped along the dirt roads as our driver pointed out scenes from numerous movies and TV shows filmed on the ranch. A dead tree from “Jurassic Park”, giant footprints from “Godzilla”, a bunker from “Windtalkers” and off in the distance a set from the upcoming sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth where among the most memorable sites we passed.
As our bus rambled back toward headquarters we passed tour groups on ATV’s, horses and 6 wheeled jungle vehicles. Together with the ocean and beach adventures offered by the ranch there is sure to be an activity that everyone will enjoy. Ancient Hawaiians considered Kualoa a sacred place of refuge and sanctuary, and our family would like to thank the Judd family and their descendents for preserving and sharing this special part of the island with us.
Our tickets were hosted, all opinions, ours.