Friday, March 27, 2015

Hawaii Trip Report Part 9: Kualoa Ranch

Trip Report so far:

Vacation Video
Part 1: Getting There
Part 2: Hiking Diamond Head Crater
Part 3: First Day at Aulani 
Part 4: Tuesday in Hawaii (Girls Version)
Part 5: Tuesday in Hawaii (Boys Version)
Part 6: Dole Plantation and the North Shore
Part 7: Out to Sea
Part 8: Friday at Aulani

Part 9: Kualoa Ranch

Saturday, March 14, 2015

We had to leave Aulani at 7:45 a.m. to make it to Kualoa Ranch by 8:45 a.m., 30 minutes before our first activity. Of course, this is the only day we slept past 5:30. We woke up around 6:30 and had to rush to get breakfast and get everything packed and pick up our car from the valet. But we made it, and drove down the H1 highway to the H3 highway. The H3 highway goes through this mountain and then it is like a highway on stilts until it gets to the east coast of Hawaii:

Photo by Scott Sharick
This side of Oahu is the rainy side of the island, and in my opinion, it is the most gorgeous part of Oahu.

We made it to Kualoa Ranch around 8:45 a.m. When I was researching activities on Oahu and came across Kualoa Ranch, I knew we had to go here. It is stunning.
Kualoa Ranch has so many activities--movie sites tour, jungle tour, ATV riding, horseback riding, boat rides, zip lines...I debated for months about what we should do. I was tempted to buy a full day pass here so that we could do 4 activities, but I couldn't decide if that would be too much for the kids. In the end, we decided that Brian would do a 2-hour ATV tour while I took the kids on a 90-minute jungle expedition.

The kids and I checked in for our tour and then headed to the nearby petting zoo for a few minutes. There were goats, roosters, pigs, a cow and a turtle.

This was our jungle tour vehicle, a 6-wheel drive Swiss Pinzgauer.

The tour group was divided into 2 of these vehicles.

We started driving through the jungle and came across these idols. Our tour guide explained what they represented to the religion of Hawaiians. (Um...I think the God of fertility, the God of crops? I had kids distracting me, that's my excuse.)
We kept climbing up the mountain, and next the entire group got out of our vehicles to visit an outdoor temple. But I kept on admiring the view:

That little island popping up there is known as Chinaman's Hat or Mokoli'i.

We listened to our tour guides explain the outdoor temple and we took some pictures before we continued up the mountain.

We passed these ancient Hawaiian fish ponds:

We stopped at a lookout point near the top. We all got out to take photos and look at some of the jungle plants and trees.

Our driver gave each of the kids an opportunity to "drive":

One of the guides showed the kids this plant called Mimosa pudica that falls asleep when you touch it. Really, the leaves fold up at the slightest touch, and they unfold later.

It was hard to capture on video, but watch this YouTube video to see this plant in action:

Our guides also showed us these "fake pineapples" and other cool leaves:

After the stop at the top, we drove back to the main part of the ranch and our tour was over. It was a great tour and interesting for everyone. (And we also saw a set from the upcoming movie Jurassic World).

Meanwhile, Brian was out on an ATV ride in another part of the ranch.

The ATV ride was in the valley where a lot of movies were filmed.

Godzilla's footprint:

He enjoyed the ride. Can't beat the scenery!

The kids and I finished our tour about 20 minutes before Brian did, so we had some Hawaiian shaved ice while we waited for him:

And we checked out some stuff around the ranch:

Alyssa and Joshua loved petting the ranch cats:
If we ever return to Oahu, I'd like to return to Kualoa Ranch. If the kids are older, I think they could handle a full day there. It's too gorgeous not to return!

The ranch had a restaurant inside and some light lunch foods where we got the shaved ice, but we packed a lunch and we decided to have a picnic at the beach.

Up next: Picnic at the beach and Waikiki

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