A trip to Kualoa Ranch is like a trip to yesteryear… to a time when the world has not yet fallen victim to modernization. Where the jungle grows wild and free. Where cows leisurely graze on rolling green hills. It is nature so pristine and pure that Jurassic Park comes to mind. Kualoa Ranch is, without a doubt, the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
D and I had the pleasure of spending a day at this nature haven on the east coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Kualoa is backdropped by the gorgeous Ka’a’awa Valley and bordered by the turquoise sea with the signature Chinaman’s Hat in the distance. The scenic drive there along Hwy 83 set the tone for the adventures to come, as we faded from civilization and entered a new land of tall gorges and lush greenery.
Kualoa Ranch offers a variety of tours and adventures, all designed to immerse guests in the natural beauty of the area. We participated in the full day adventure package, which includes four 1-hour activities of our choosing.
Jungle Expedition – Piled into a 6-wheeled Pinzgauer, this expedition took us through the bumpy jungle trails of the Hapiku’u Valley, up steep hills, and over running creeks. Hang on tight or you may find yourself in the lap of the next person over! As we drove through dense jungle and scenic overlooks, our guide pointed out locations where movies/TV shows were filmed, most notably Lost and Battleship. When we arrived at the hilltop, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view spanning the valley, across the ancient fish pond, and sweeping Oahu’s eastern shoreline.
Ocean Voyage – This tour offered so much more than was what given in their vague website description! We started with a boat ride across the ancient fish pond (an old fish breeding ground for the royal family). The beauty of this pond took my breath away. Enveloped by green mountains and lush tropical gardens, and combined with the algae in the pond, the whole pond and its surroundings reflected green.
Upon landing on the other side of the pond and a short trek through the jungle later, we emerged on a secret beach. Gentle turquoise waves lapped up on white sand as fine as powder, while dense tropical foliage formed the background. Along with the long boats lounging on shore, it was a picture-perfect image of a true secluded paradise.
From here, we boarded a double-layer catamaran and ventured out to sea as far as Chinaman’s hat.
Horseback Ride – What more can I say? It is always fun to be a cowgirl (or cowboy) for a day… especially in a setting as beautiful as Kualoa. This leisurely 1-hour ride took us around the southern half of Kualoa to see views of Chinaman’s Hat.
ATV Tour – This was my first time on an ATV and I had the time of my life! The rumble of the engine, the force of the steering, the wind through my hair.. every bit of it awakened the senses and got the adrenaline pumping. This tour had us rolling through the grassy hills where the cows graze, riding alongside the aqua waters, and maneuvering the muddy, twisty jungle roads (special thanks to the tour guide who rescued me after I accidentally veered off course and got stuck in the jungle bushes!).The scenic highlight was a stop at the beautiful Ka’a’awa valley, with the towering valley gorges directly in front and the green ranch land stretching all the way to sea.
Sorry for the pic heavy post, but there are no words that can adequately describe the beauty of Kualoa Ranch. Pictures hardly even do it justice. To fully appreciate the beauty, it is truly a place that needs to be experienced, the grounds explored (whether by foot, by horse, by ATV, or by boat), the air breathed.
Before coming to Oahu, some people had warned me that it was a little too overdeveloped and not enough nature. I think that clearly, they did not discover the paradise that is Kualoa Ranch.
Full day adventure – $139 for 4 activities; 10% discount when booking online (so came out to $130). I believe this is the best deal on Oahu for those seeking adventure. Compare this with $99 for the half-day adventure for 2 activities, or $69 for the 1-hr horseback or ATV tours and $26 each for other excursions. The full day adventure also includes a buffet lunch, normally priced at $18/person.
Tips: You will not pick your activities during booking, and will get the opportunity to do so at the Ranch. Arrive early. Later in the morning, tour buses will drop off hordes of tourists. Go as close to 8 am as possible to ensure that you get all the activities you want. We had no problem and the Ranch did a great job to make sure everyone got their top picks!