Kualoa Ranch: Hawaii’s movie playground
I have to admit I have never heard of Kualoa Ranch before I arrived on the island of O’ahu but once I heard that they were home to quite a few movies which were filmed here, I just had to take the short drive along the North Shore and check it out. Located about five miles north of Kane’ohe on Route 83, the ranch is pretty hard to miss. From the moment I saw the road sign it was at least another mile before turning into the main entrance.
The ranch isn’t only used as a movie set, it is also a farm with lots of horse, cows, sheep and pigs dotted around the 4,000 acre site. Also the main aim of the ranch is to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the land and at the same time, develop agricultural and recreational business that doesn’t harm the environment.
Arriving at the ticket desk, the tour I wanted to go on was fully sold out for the next ten days (which was the tour of the film sets and a lot of extras added on) so I was able to do the next best thing, a ninety minute tour of the ‘Discover Hollywood Movie Sites’ to which I had to wait an hour for the next available tour. So I wasn’t disappointed and before I knew it, I was on a bus into the Ka’a’awa Valley to see some of the fifty Hollywood blockbuster movie which were filmed here.
First stop on the way I was exploring an Second World War army bunker which overlooked the ocean. During the attacks on Hawaii by the Japanese army back in the early 1940’s, the US army declared martial law and took over the ranch. Soon after a few bunkers were built as well as an airstrip. Today the bunkers are still here and a few items but most of the stuff at the time was cleared up by the US army once the war was ended and the ranch was returned to the owners in the state they found it. Also in the bunker were props used in certain films.
Down the hill into the valley, I saw the breathtaking mountains surrounding the plain grassy lands where famous shots of movies were taking, like the fallen tree in Jurassic Park, the Windtalkers battleground, the two children looking above at the planes as they flew towards Pearl Harbor (out of the film Pearl Harbor of course), the scene with Matthew Broderick standing in Godzilla’s footprint, Hurley’s golf course in Lost and the famous ‘penguin’ road site from the 50 First Dates.
But it wasn’t the filming locations I came here for. As soon as I heard about the ranch and did some research, I wanted to see the landscape. I am a sucker for totally beautiful surroundings and the Ka’a’awa Valley had it all. Mountains with lush greenery with a tropical climate with a huge grassy valley ripping through the heart of the land which leads out to the clear blue ocean, this was a place for me which I didn’t want to miss out.
Whilst here, I also learnt that as well as having a lot of farm animals, they also produce a lot of vegetables and fruit, most popular is bananas, sweet potatoes and dragon fruit. During the tour I also learnt a lot about Hawaiian history and that the ranch is one of the most historically significant areas on the island and that it is a very sacred place. Legends say the ranch was a place of refuge where natives could come to seek forgiveness. I also learnt that the ranch used to host the Makahiki, which took place once a year where skilled natives would come here to train and participate in warrior games of skill.
My tour here was one of the highlights I came across on the island and would totally recommend it. Not only I got to see amazing scenery which blew my mind but as a film geek, I got to see some locations of epic blockbusters of the last few decades. Driving away from the ranch with huge smiles on my face, I definitely left a tour where I took a way a lot of memories which will last a lifetime.
Please note that while I was only a visitor and not working with Kualoa Ranch, the reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!