If you’ve been looking for stuff to do whilst you’re on O’ahu, you’ve probably come across Kualoa Ranch and the tours that operate on it.
It’s a favorite filming site amongst popular Hollywood movies such as Jurassic Park, Godzilla and Kong Skull Island, there’s a reason these blockbuster movies chose to film here, it’s 4,000 acres of beautiful greenery.
It really is a one in a lifetime chance to visit such amazing scenery in the flesh, and the plethora of tours, boat trips and horseback riding make it fun for the whole family.
Keep reading this article if you want to find out all you should know about visiting Kualoa Ranch and the best activities you should do if you visit.
How To Get To Kualoa Ranch
There’s two options you have if you’re traveling to Kualoa Ranch, that is by car or by shuttle.
Traveling By Car
If you’re driving to Kualoa Ranch the drive will be around 35-40 minutes from Waikīkī, the ranch is located on O’ahu’s windward side just north of Kāne’ohe. It’s an easy and beautiful drive and the parking there is free and simple.
Traveling By Shuttle
Shuttles will run from specific places in Waikīkī, these occur between 7:00am and 7:45am and will usually return approximately at 3:15pm.
The pickup locations are The Modern Honolulu, the Aston Waikīkī Beach Hotel and the Sheraton Waikīkī Hotel.
The shuttles are available for specific tours only for around $30 per person + tax, so make sure to research if your tour qualifies before you go to avoid disappointment.
Why Do People Keep Going To Kualoa Ranch?
There’s no doubt that Kualoa Ranch is one of the most successful working ranches in Hawaii, it’s the 10th most visited attraction in the whole country and it boasted 488,605 visitors in 2016, so why is this ranch so much more popular than other ranches?
Because no other ranch can match the variety, reputation and beauty of the Kualoa Ranch.
Whilst there’s many film locations in the whole of Hawaii, no place can truly match what this ranch has to offer with its beautiful scenery, it’s truly something to marvel at.
All this talk about tours and tourism may be putting you off, you may be thinking that you don’t want to visit another tourist trap, but don’t let its popularity fool you.
Though the visitor center may seem buzzing with tourist activity, once you explore deeper into the ranch you’ll find that its agricultural and historical sites have remained largely untouched, making its natural landscape something to be in awe of.
Unfortunately you won’t be able to see much of the ranch without a tour of some sort, but be assured that the tours are brilliant and they’re definitely worth the money you’ll pay for them.
Most tours will operate through the same area- the Ka’a’awa Valley. If you’ve never heard of this stunning place, then you’re missing out. Its beautiful scenery and immense cultural significance makes this place truly special.
It was said that this was the site of kings, and in ancient times babies were brought here to learn the traditional ways of living and war.
The tours you embark on whether you’re on an ATV, an e-bike or just on an exploration tour, will all show you the beauty that this valley has to offer.
You’ll see its beautiful waterfalls, extensive valleys and rough jungles and hear about the ancient Hawaiian times in the Ka’a’awa Valley, and how it has shaped it into what it is now – a working ranch full of cattle.
What Movies Were Filmed At Kualoa Ranch?
There’s been hundreds of movies and tv shows filmed at Kualoa Ranch, more specifically in Ka’a’awa Valley. More notable movies include Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Jumanji and so many more.
You may recognise Ka’a’awa Valley in some of your favorite tv shows too such as Hawaii Five-0, LOST and Magnum PI, again there’s so many more blockbusters that have been filmed here, you should definitely explore them whilst you’re at the ranch, which brings us perfectly into the types of activities you’ll want to do whilst you’re visiting.
What Activities Should You Do Whilst You’re There?
There’s a lot to choose from when deciding what tours you want to do in Kualoa Ranch, and it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you.
Rest assured, we’ve compiled a list of the best activities and tours you should do whilst you’re there.
Now, if you’re a tv and movie enthusiast you’ll probably already know the extensive amount of tv shows and movies filmed in Kualoa Ranch and its valleys.
In the Hollywood Movie Sites Tours you’ll be able to see the boneyard from Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla’s huge footprints and the Indominus rex paddock with its 60 foot walls along with the authentic dinosaur cages used in the movies.
The narration in the guide will explain where things were filmed and give you insight about the landscape that was used to film these incredible movies.
Riding in an open-air vehicle, you’ll get the best views possible of these movie locations and hold on because it’ll be a bumpy ride through the rainforest, giving you the best experience as if you were in the movies yourself!
Farm And Cultural Tours
If you’re not too bothered about the movies and tv shows that were filmed in the ranch, not to worry there’s plenty of other brilliant tours that revolve around how Kualoa operates as a working ranch, and the culture behind it.
These are more educational based but it’s super interesting to learn more about Kualoa as a working ranch.
The Aloha Aina Tour is great as it allows guests to see the beauty and calmness of one of the most well preserved fish ponds in O’ahu.
You’ll be able to see a 1,000 year old pond in the flesh and learn about the ancient aquaculture practices that were undertaken in this very pond.
Later on guests will be taken on a trolley to explore the tropical flower and fruit gardens and learn more about the history of the ancient Hawaiians.
Another amazing tour you should experience is the Malama Experience. Be warned, this is very hands on, you could be assisting with cleaning, planting or harvesting and can even include thatching of the traditional Hawaiian grass huts.
This is certainly a different experience compared to the other activities available on the ranch, and it will teach you about the importance of sustainability and how important kalo is for Hawaiian sustenance and its cultural tie-in to Kualoa.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, this one is definitely for you. You’ll be riding off-road through the ranch’s deep valleys and spacious rainforests which will take you right through Jurassic Valley.
It includes narration as you pass through the various movie locations to give you information about where you are and what you’re seeing.
These multi-passenger ATVs mean that you can usually have up to five passengers, so you can have tons of fun with the whole family and explore the scenic valleys and remote areas. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart!
If you’re looking for a more relaxed tour of the ranch, look no further than the Ocean Voyage Tour.
You’ll embark on an hour-long cruise around northern O’ahu, taking in the breathtaking views of Kanē’ohe bay whilst having your captain commentate as you travel past Hōkūle’a Beach, Mokoli’i Island and the Ko’olau mountain range.
If you want an individual experience out on the water there’s usually some tours that offer a half-day beach hangout where you’ll have access to canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.
You will get to ride though Jurassic Valley from the comfort of riding on your own well trained horse, if you love the outdoors and celebrating nature, this eco-friendly tour is definitely for you.
This won’t be for everybody, some people may prefer to use the ATV tours through Jurassic Valley to get an authentic experience and stick to horseback riding on a different tour through O’ahu where there will be less tourists and less commotion.
Dining And Catering
Kualoa has an extensive number of cafes on the ranch and each of them will typically have numerous great food options that are grown right there on the ranch.
Aunty Pat’s Cafe is a popular destination for hungry explorers, be aware that it’s popularity will mean that it’s subjected to a lot of tourist buzz, so you may have to wait a bit for the food.
It’s definitely a cafe you’ll want to eat at, it’s fresh Hawaiian style homemade cooking will leave you watering at the mouth.
Out the back you can see beautiful views of the Kualoa mountains making it the perfect place to enjoy a nice hearty meal at.
If your accommodation is self catering, then you’ll want to shop at KualoaGrown Market for your food.
It boasts around 60 crops being grown on site and they raise and produce their own beef, pork, oysters, shrimp and lamb, consuming and buying from this market helps to boost the island community and supports a healthy food system.
Kualoa Gift Shop
If you want a memento of your breathtaking trip to Kualoa Ranch, this gift shop has it all. You can get t-shirts, hats, shorts and much more to accessorize and show off your experience at the ranch.
Or if you’re looking for something more unique, the gift shop offers Hawaiian crafts, tasty treats and many other gift items.
Its selection of handcrafted jewelry and wood carvings make your gift individual and special to you, no handcrafted item will be the same.
Kualoa Ranch is a magnificent ranch, home to three valleys, dense rainforests and jungles.
It’s not hard to see why it’s such a popular tourist destination, the accolades it has from the number of blockbuster movies and tv shows it has provided setting to is enough to generate intrigue on its own.
It’s breathtaking scenery and cultural heritage makes it an amazing destination to learn more about.
The history and culture of this ranch goes all the way back to ancient times, and it’s interesting to learn about how the history of the beautiful landscape has shaped this ranch into what it is today.