I have wanted to write about Kualoa Ranch for a very long time now; second to my wedding this was the best experience I had during our time in Hawaii. What drew me to Kualoa Ranch originally was my desire to finally fulfill one of my bucket list items: Ziplining. Kualoa Ranch is a private nature reserve owned by the family of Gerrit P. Judd, an American physician and missionary to the Kingdom of Hawaii and after renouncing his American citizenship, became a trusted advisor to King Kamehameha III (Third King of the Kingdom of Hawaii.)
Our main goals for this trip to Hawaii were to (1) get married and celebrate with our friends & family and (2) take a deep-dive into the Hawaiian culture. Well, after spending a lot of time on the Kualoa Ranch website, I knew that this was a place we needed to check out. From UTV & ATV tours, to kayaking tours, horseback tours, trolley tours, movie tours, ziplining and many more attractions, I was almost overwhelmed with how much we could do there; honestly, I wanted to do everything. After calling their booking number they set us up for the day with a recommendation to start the day off with their movie tour followed with a break at their luau lunch buffet, then finishing the day ziplining.
We arrived to Kualoa Ranch and were immediately blown away with how beautiful the place was; the Ka’a’awa Valley is spectacular. It truly was like stepping into Jurassic Park and it got my whole family super excited for the movie tour. Since we arrived super early we had the opportunity to go to their café and have breakfast (which was spam musubi and eggs) and still have time to explore the shop. My Husband, Sister and I all bought new shirts and some other souvenirs to commemorate the day. We then made our way over to our meeting place for the movie tour.
To start the tour you board a large vintage army green bus that serves as your transportation for the entirety of the movie tour. The tour guide and driver was overall one of the most entertaining guides I have ever had on a tour like this. He cracked jokes, gave awesome bits of knowledge about the ranch and showed us as many movies sites as he could throughout the tour. On the tour we were able to see filming locations of Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, Godzilla and many more. My personal favorite point of the tour was when they allowed us to stop and take a picture at the infamous fallen tree from Jurassic Park; I could almost see the herd of Gallimimus charging down the hill towards Dr. Grant and the children. What is also really neat about this tour is that Kualoa Ranch is still a very popular location for films, which means if you come back on a return trip, you may have the opportunity to see new filming locations. During our tour, they were in the process of finishing up the new Jumanji!
After the tour we headed to our Hawaiian buffet lunch that was included in our package. We entered the café that they have located at the front of the property and started to enjoy an authentic Hawaiian meal. I would highly recommend enjoying lunch at Kualoa, because not only was it really convenient, it also was delicious.
Finally, after lunch, we headed back to the transportation hub to get ready to board another vintage bus and head back up the mountain to zipline. Before we boarded, we all needed to sign waivers and they had a guide there to answer any questions that we may have. On the way up the mountain on the bus, we had a new tour guide, who gave us a “mini” version of the movie tour on the way up to our destination. He was also very funny and tried to point out all locations he knew that movies were filmed on. Once we parked, we headed up to the ziplining cabin to meet our ziplining hosts and get our equipment. This was my first time ziplining and on top of it, I am very scared of heights. That being said, I was extremely nervous about this experience but again wanted to mark it off my bucket list, so I sucked it up. We had three ziplining hosts with us who gave us all our equipment and ensured that we were all hooked up correctly. These guides did not leave our side the entire time. They also had great senses of humor and made the entire experience enjoyable, entertaining us from beginning to end.
Overall, there were 7 tandem sections, 2 suspension bridges and 3 mini-hiking nature trails. The path began with a short, easy zipline and then worked its way up to being longer and faster. The coolest part of this whole experience is that you are ziplining in Ka’a’awa Valley, which is where they filmed Jurassic Park and World, and how cool is it that you can say you ziplined through Jurassic Park! Overall, we felt super safe throughout the whole experience and by the second zipline, I was doing it with no hands!
Kualoa Ranch is truly a diamond in the rough in O’ahu and I would highly recommend it to everyone visiting Hawaii!
My Husband and Sister ran Dual GoPros during the experience. Check out a clip of our ziplining experience here:
“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” Dalai Lama