Kualoa Ranch and nature preserve is a beautiful tour location and working ranch on the windward side of Oahu. Set on 4000 acres between the Ko’olau range and Kaneohe Bay, the land was sold in 1850 by Kamehameha III to Dr. Gerrit Judd. The ranch and nature preserve are owned by the 6th generation of this family!
Kualoa Ranch is over the Pali from Honolulu. Movie and TV filming, cattle ranching, oyster beds, and the ruins of a sugar mill are all here. Make reservations in advance for Kualoa tours. You can arrange for transportation from Waikiki (leaving early in the morning!) and hot food and quick food are available at the visitor center. You can spend the whole day there by taking 3 tours, or take one tour at a time. Tours are generally 60 or 90 minutes and run from early morning to mid-afternoon. I recommend studying the website, then calling to make your reservation and getting exactly what you would like.
- The movie tour takes you on an old school bus around the many location sites. You may recognize Lost, Hawaii Five-0, Fifty First Dates, or Jurassic World. You have an opportunity to get out, walk around, and take pictures at several of the locations. You cannot get this fantastic view of the peaks of Ko’olau range from the highway!
- The ancient fishpond and tropical garden tour take you over to the bay side of the property to see the Moli’i pond, the oldest and largest in Hawaii. The pond could be 1300 years old! The pond is still operational and used for fish and raising oysters.
- The catamaran tour on Kaneohe Bay takes you out on a large catamaran with a glass bottom. The views of the bay and seeing Mokoli’i island close up are spectacular. The reef out here is popular with honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle) and beautiful fish.
For more active tours:
- Jungle expedition goes into the rainforest on a jungle vehicle.
- Horseback riding tours are available for 1 or 2 hours. These tours go into the valley where many movies are filmed along with more great views of the ranch.
- ATV tours are available for 1 or 2 hours. Single driver or 5-person ATVs are available. These tours will take you into more remote areas of the ranch.
- Treetop canopy zipline has 7 sections, 2 suspension bridges, and more through the Ka’a’wa Valley.
Admission to Kualoa’s tours vary by package, with additional charges for transportation from Waikiki. Check the website for prices. Kualoa is open daily (the glass-bottom catamaran does not run on Sundays or Federal holidays). Be sure to wear sunscreen and bug repellant.
Don’t miss the Kualoa Regional Park across the highway. It’s a lovely beach with fantastic views of Mokoli’i island and others in Kaneohe Bay.
Oahu map – Kualoa Ranch
Grabbing a bite
Aunty Pat’s Paniolo café is available in the visitor center with hot, made-to-order options. A buffet is available at lunchtime. Near the ranch is Coral Kingdom with plate lunch options. Check Yelp, Urbanspoon, or your favorite app for Ka’a’awa.
(If you are staying at Paradise Bay Resort in Kahalu’u, Kualoa is only 10 minutes away!)
From Waikiki, take Ala Wai Boulevard and turn right on McCully Street. Follow the signs to get on H1 going west towards Pearl Harbor and the airport. Take the exit for Route 63, Likelike Highway. After the tunnel, exit onto Route 83, Kahekili Highway. Continue on 83 through Kahaluu. Look for the Kualoa sign at the entrance on the left after you can see the Kualoa Regional Park beach.
If using The Bus, take Bus #8 or #42 to Ala Moana center, then #55.
- Kaneohe Bay Islands from Hawaii for Visitors
- Story of the Judd family papers from Honolulu Advertiser
- Movies filmed at Kualoa
- The Bus
Let’s talk story
Kualoa is just the day in the country you might need if Waikiki is not really your thing. Revisiting the scenes of favorite movies and tv shows, learning about oyster culture, maintaining an ancient fish pond, or cruising in Kaneohe bay with the honu (sea turtles): any of these make wonderful memories on Oahu.
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