Bows and stripes at Kualoa Ranch
Whether you realised it or not, at some point you would have watched a movie or TV show that was either shot on location in Hawaii or showed scenic views of the lush landscape. Being the movie buff I am, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Kualoa Ranch.
4000 acres of private nature reserve spread across three valleys on the windward coastline of O'ahu, the Kualoa Ranch is rich in history and constantly evolving to meet its dedication of sustainability and preservation. This working cattle ranch also doubles as the hot spot for movie and TV show sets due to the beauty of the undeveloped land. Aside from beef, the ranch also harvests prawns, fish, fruit, vegetables, and flowers.
You can get away with not hiring a car in Honolulu, but we ended up booking one just for the day to drive up to the ranch and around the island. If you plan out your day, you can take in a lot of the island and tick most things off your list. It takes roughly 45 mins to drive from Waikiki to the ranch, but just check Google maps a bit before you leave so you can take into account how the traffic is pacing that day. We were told that Hawaiians are use to traffic and just take it easy, but from all the places we have visited including our own country, I wouldn’t say its really traffic at all, the only difference is the lack of roads.
There are a host of guided tours you can take at the ranch ranging from horseback riding, ATV rides, and zipline experiences. On this occasion we stuck to the movie tour where they take you on a retro bus through the reserve, while stopping at various points for photo opportunities. The guide takes you through the history of the ranch, through it's origins, what happened during the war and it's current state. It's fascinating how proactive the owners have been in making full use of the land and for the greater good of the island of Hawaii.
We had a wonderful experience and the staff were very pleasant and informative. I would recommend supporting Hawaii tourism making the Kualoa Ranch a part of your trip activities, and use it as a starting point to explore the island for the day. We didn’t know at the time, but apart of the general souvenir store, they have Aunty Pat's Paniolo Cafe with homemade Hawaiian style food and other quality food options, so you won't need to bring food with you to eat. Also, make sure you try the apple banana smoothies –tastes amazing and the fresh bananas grown right on the property.