Visiting Kualoa Ranch has definitely got to be one of my favourite highlights of visiting Hawaii so far. Kualoa is a beautiful nature reserve and working cattle ranch along the coast of O’ahu. It’s so beautiful that it’s become such a favourite for both locals and tourists alike. You might also find that it somewhat looks familiar, as many famous Hollywood films have been shot here, one of which is the 1993 film, Jurassic Park.
The serene landscape of beautifully ridged mountain cliffs towering over the twinkling waters of Kaneohe Bay is a vision that’s hard to forget. This piece of paradise is a prime spot for a wide range of outdoor fun which includes activities like zip lining, horseback riding and ATV tours, which are set to give you the most breathtaking views of this 4,000 acre private nature reserve. There are two main parts to Kualoa Ranch: the ‘Jurassic Valley’, formally known as the Ka’a’awa Valley, where many famous movie locations are based; and then there is the southern part that includes their Secret Island Hokule’a beach and the Hakipuʻu Valley rainforest, Moli’i, an 800-year old ancient Hawaiian fishpond.
The Beginning Of An Adventure
We set off really early in the morning on the day that we went to visit Kualoa Ranch. At the time, I actually had no idea what to expect as I had never heard of this place before. Our lovely Aunt surprised us with tickets to go ATV riding so off we went! We were based in Salt Lake, which is about a 35 minute drive to Kualoa Ranch. It was a great opportunity to spend some quality time with our cousins, which is very rare since they live in Hawaii whilst my siblings and I live in the UK.
The weather was absolutely perfect, the sun was shining bright and we were so pumped for the day ahead. As soon as we got to the ranch, we had to go say hi to the horses right away. We literally had to take a moment to soak in the views, as it really felt like we were in a movie.
An ATV Tour Of A Lifetime
Okay so this was pure amazingness packed in some of the best 2 hours I’ve ever had in my life so far. I was low key a little nervous since I had never been on an ATV before but the adrenaline was well and truly pumping so all I really wanted to do was to hop on to my ride and take it for a spin. Once we had signed all the paper work, we were sat down and given a talk on how to drive the ATV safely. Within a few minutes, we were ready to set off, all geared up with our helmets on.
As we set off on our journey around Kualoa, we were instructed to remain in our little linear formation as per the photo above. This ensured that no one got lost or left behind. As soon as I hit gas, yo I was proper living. There were just stretches upon stretches of stunning scenery that’s just near impossible to ever forget. It’s definitely one for the books. There were parts however, that were quite bumpy and there was also a part of the trail where we passed through a forest that had quite sharp twists and turns. I felt like I was going to fall off my ATV at one point, but it was so much fun! The trail kept us on our toes and had us all on full adventure mode.
Hollywood In Hawaii
Kualoa has been a prime location for shooting over 70 Hollywood films since the 1950’s, which is why you may find that some areas are particularly familiar to you upon arrival. Some films and TV shows that have been shot here include:
- 50 First Dates
- Pearl Harbour
- Jurassic World
- Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom
- Jurassic Park
- Tears Of The Sun
- Kong Skull Island
- Hawaii Five-O
- Magnum P.I
The ATV tour we went on actually took us around to some of these Hollywood spots, with our favourite being the Jurassic Park signage by the fallen tree. I remember watching this film so many times when my younger brother went through a phase of dinosaur obsession. That’s all we ever played on our VHS back in the days. To be in that very same place where the film was shot felt very surreal.
More Tours And Activities
Kualoa is the action-packed escape of your dreams, located in the dreamiest place possible. In addition to the ATV tour we embarked on during our visit there, there are lots more activities and tour packages that you and your friends / family can try. There’s something for everybody, which is the beauty of it all. It’s the perfect day out in sunny O’ahu.
Other activities include (but are not limited to):
- Kualoa Ranch Farm Tour
- Horse Back Tours
- Jungle Jeep Expedition Tour
- Hawaii’s Best Movie Tour Featuring Film & TV Locations
- Secret Island Beach Activities
These tours usually last around 1-2 hours long and in some packages, you can pick whether you’d like to go for the 1 hour tour or whether you’d like to tour for longer. It’s important to try and wear closed shoes for most of these activities and always remember to bring your sun cream as it gets super hot throughout the day. Advanced reservations are always recommended here as these tours tend to get fully booked 2-3 weeks in advance.
And there we have it, what do you guys think? Kualoa Ranch is absolutely gorgeous and packed with lots of adventures for the family. It’s a very unique way to explore the island and I can’t wait to go back already. Do you guys know of any more cool places to visit in O’ahu? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments section below!