Saturday, January 25, 2020
Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve is a 4,000 acre property on Oahu’s eastern side near the middle. The ranch is owned and managed by the eighth generation descendants of Dr. Gerritt P. Judd who started the ranch in the 1850’s. The property, the size of a mainland National Park, is largely undeveloped.
The little development that has been done has been in support of environmental sustainability goals focusing on three areas, entertainment, agriculture and aquaculture. When away from the highway entrance, the ranch looks largely undisturbed by man. The views are expansive and breathtaking.
Kualoa is a popular venue. The ranch offers several tours and all spots are likely to be filled by the day of the tour. Make reservations a week or more in advance to ensure you get the tour you want.
We did a bus tour of movie sites a few years back. We liked the tour but the bus ride was a bit bouncy and the seats were like school bus seats. The ranch roads are rugged at best. The above bus is one of the nicer ones.
We felt like a UTV tour would be a better choice for us. We could sit together and talk while driving around the ranch. Also, it rains at the ranch regularly. UTV’s provide some protection from the rain. Linda made reservations in advance.
Not having any sense for the traffic on the way to the ranch, we left early and arrived at the ranch an hour before the tour started. No problem. The gift shop is also a restaurant. We sat on their back patio out of the weather and enjoyed our snacks.
Arriving at the UTV tour shed, the tour group watched a safety movie and then selected their helmets. The helmets weren’t exactly clean. Most looked like they had been dragged through the mud by marathon runners at the end of a hot and sweltering 10K run. Dust, dried mud and sweat stains.
None of the available helmets were clean. It wasn’t even a matter of finding the least clean one. Just look for one that isn’t obviously gross.
After some followup words from the tour guide on safety and UTV handling, the tour group was assigned to individual UTV’s. In theory, each UTV could hold up to six people. The assignments were made so that families were kept together. The man and his daughter in front of us had their own UTV. Linda and I had our own UTV. The family behind us with all the kids had their own UTV and so on.
It was fun driving around the ranch. Our tour guide was awesome. He drove an ATV instead of a UTV. The tour stopped to get out of the UTV’s and walk around while looking at different sites. And the views!
Wide valley opening up to an aquaculture lagoon with the Pacific Ocean behind it. Breathtaking. Quiet. Gentle onshore breeze. Paradise.
The tour includes driving on the side of coastal mountains. On one side is the ocean.
The the other side are rugged mountains.
Some of the stops lend themselves to making funny pictures. One of the children in the tour dropped his toy dinosaur which was then used as a prop to ‘menace’ Linda.
The tour guide had a better prop and kindly snapped a picture.
The tour guide also took pictures at Jurassic Park movie sets. In the Jurassic Park movies, the velociraptor was one of the most dangerous dinosaurs because they hunted in packs, could communicate with other pack members and were extremely smart. Smarter than cats, dogs, dolphins and killer whales.
Who wouldn’t want a picture was such a beast?
Lunch was provided with the tour. The pesto chicken wrap that came with potato chips, fruit cup and brownie was excellent. Soft drinks and bottled water were also available.
The view that came with lunch was spectacular. A valley rimmed by mountains. The ocean beyond.
After lunch, there were few stops. Mostly, the tour wound its way back down the mountain into the valley toward the ocean.
On the way back to the UTV parking lot, the tour photo was taken.
Great day. Great tour. Something to be done again. Although, we would consider a tour longer than the 2½ hour tour we took. So much to see. So much fun. We would definitely do this again even though it is expensive.
One last thing to be aware of. There were a couple of tense moments while driving. Some of the downhill parts of the tour are steep. The UTV brakes are not like power brakes found in cars. I found myself pushing the brake pedal has hard as I could scared to death that we might rear end the UTV in front of me.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!