Ever wanted to zipline through Hawaiian jungle, ride a horse or ATV through jungle trails and movie sets? What about tasting locally grown grass fed beef? Kualoa ranch is a great place to see and enjoy while on Oahu! Just 24 miles from Honolulu on the North-Eastern shore (Oahu Winward Coast) off of Hwy 83 / Kamehameha Hwy.
Kualoa Ranch has a lot to offer for tourists and locals alike. This is the world’s most famous private nature reserve, with sprawling 4000 acres of land. It was originally purchased by a missionary physician Dr. Gerrit P. Judd form King Kamehameha III in 1850. The land is owed and run by the eighth generation descendants of Dr. Judd.
During WWII, the area was occupied as a make shift air field for the US military. There are ‘pillboxes’ and a full concrete bunker visible to tourists today. These can be viewed form various tours and are a favorite spot for pictures. Seen from the bunker is an amazing view of the coast and the ocean.
Today Kualoa Ranch is a working cattle ranch, tourist destination, event venue and movie/TV show set. Over 50 movies have been filmed here including: Jurassic Park (1993), Jurassic World (2015), 50 First Dates (2004), Pearl Harbor (2001), Kong: Skull Island (2017), Windtalkers (2002), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), etc. As well as being the location for TV shows like: Magnum PI, Lost, and of course Hawaii 50.
The natural beauty is undisturbed in many areas and gives a sense of what the island looked like when royalty owned it. You will feel as if you were in the native wilds of this region while touring the ranch. It does not take much imagination to realize what movie and TV producers have seen in the vast jungle regions of this site. This is the safe haven for many native plants and wildlife not often seen in other areas of the islands. The rock formations and vegetation lend an understanding of the heritage and conservancy given to this land. Many of the mountain and hill formations have local names related to the native ideas of nature.
The tours give a great range of the reserve’s resources. You will see the catfish, prawn and shrimp beds. The banana and papaya trees and their system of sustainable gardening and aquafarming.
As a working ranch and farm the land is home to grass fed beef, which is sold in the Visitors Center. There is also a private flower garden that produces local flowers cut for sale or in arrangements.
Kualoa Ranch Tour Options
There are quite a few options to tour the ranch. From ‘jungle vehicles’ tours of the movie sites and gardens, to ATV tours, to horseback rides through the ‘Jurassic valley’. You can purchase a day pass or a multi-tour package; with this, you can buy an inexpensive bus transfer from Waikiki. Some advanced planning is highly recommended as the ATV tour is very popular and gets often sold out.
The ATV tour is fun, with spectacular views of the valley. Since the movie tour happens in the same valley, so there is some overlap if you do both. The movie tour is more in depth, of course.
You can zipline over the valley if you like views from the top.
Or take a catamaran tour in the Kaneohe Bay to observe the beautiful Windward Coast of Oahu from a distance.
The Ancient Fishpond and gardens tour will lead you to the 153-acre fishing location of historic natives. This pond has been recognized in the National Registry of Historic Places, with carbon dating evidence of aquaculture practices in use from 800-1000 years ago. If in season you may sample some of the fruits cultivated on the shores of the “Secret Island” on the other side of the pond.
The white sand “Secret Island” is also available for beach activities. With a separate reservation and fees, you can swim, kayak, paddle board, play horse shoes or just enjoy the beach from a hammock under the palm trees.
Kualoa Ranch Services
The Visitors Center houses a cafe and a souvenir shop. The Aunty Pat’s Café offers breakfast and lunch, featuring Kualoa’s own harvest of grass fed beef burgers. They also serve fruits and vegetables grown on the ranch. There is a monthly meat sale of beef, and shrimp, you can find listings of dates for these on their website.
Wether for a family adventure, an event venue or just a site seeing excursion you will find amazing natural beauty here. This is a fantastic location to reveal the history and wonder of the Hawaiian Islands. However you end up seeing Kualoa Ranch, you will remember the adventure for a long time to come.