Unbeknownst to most, including many locals, Kualoa Ranch is one of the most sacred and special places in all of Oahu. The land is deeply rooted in Hawaiian history and a focal point in many of their legends. From the burial caves notched out high up in the mountain cliffs to the beaches that welcome ashore revered whale bones, Kualoa was protected by the Hawaiian people and staked out as holy land. It was a place of battleground, traditional sustenance, village communities, folklore, and the inaugural launch of the Hokulea, an ocean expedition with navigation led customarily by the stars. Kualoa Ranch is a place like no other, and has undoubtedly preserved Hawaii at it’s culturally richest.
As a working cattle farm, Kualoa produces grass-fed, healthy cows that roam the nearly 4,000 acres of the property. Aside from this business, the land is also used for tours and luaus. You can traverse the expansive property on ATV’s, safari SUV’s, buses, or by horseback, and choose from over ten different entertaining tours to embark on. Another reason that Kualoa has become such a popular destination for vacations to Hawaii is because of its cameo appearances in major motion films and television shows. You’ll recognize scenes from Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, Mighty Joe Young, The Descendants, Godzilla, Lost, Hawaii Five-0 and many more. Not only are the tours exciting and fun, they’re laced with interesting facts about the land, it’s history, and it’s current happenings.
Structures that have been used as movie props are left standing, and you can see things like army barracks, termite hills, heiaus, grass huts, tikis and Moai, iconic landscapes, and many other popular props and scenes from Hollywood. While this may be the reason why many people visit Kualoa, I would recommend staying for the luau as well. The food is simply delicious, which is hard to find at a lot of the other luaus on island. Mahi mahi simmering in lemon caper butter sauce, garlic whipped potatoes, fresh purple taro rolls, seasonal veggies, sweet pineapple, prime rib, crisp salad with papaya seed dressing, and coconut haupia cake for dessert. Food does not get any better than this, and the chefs are standing by to explain dishes, offer details, and seek your satisfaction.
All staff members are happy and genuinely involved in their contribution to Kualoa. From the tour guides to the workers at the gift shop to the performers at the luau, each inpidual is open to talking story and sharing their experiences, knowledge, and interests with the guests. Prior to the performance of the evening, the dancers are seated throughout the stage area demonstrating arts and crafts, which the guests are invited and encouraged to join in on. You can make a bookmark with authentic tools such as Hawaiian paintbrushes, traditional stamps with Hawaiian patterns and designs, and inks. This also gives you a chance to talk with the dancers before the show begins and get to know them and their background a little bit (and trust me, after you watch the show you’ll be glad you did!).
The performance at the luau is called “Legends of Kualoa” and depicts the ancient stories that were ingrained in Hawaiian culture and folklore. Deeply moving and highly entertaining, the storyteller weaves together antique tales, which are brought to life by the dancers and performers. One of the most incredible parts of the whole show is when each performer plays a traditional Hawaiian instrument, which the storyteller explains in detail. Hollow bamboo stalks create a deep bass-like quality and river rock makes the sounds of a castanet. Stiff, dry reeds are banded together and hit against each other to create percussion, while a hollowed out gourd with taut leather acts as the beat. Wind sounds are also replicated, with chants and songs stringing the entire ensemble together. It truly is a stirring performance, and it’s amazing how each sound can be clearly distinguished in the music. The dancers are passionate, beautiful, and talented, and they reach the audience in ways you’ve never felt before.
Legends of Kualoa is the only completely authentic luau on island. From their storytelling to their chants to their dancing and acting, everything is derived from ancient Hawaii, representing the islands in a pure way, prior to any outside contact or influence. And just when you think the luau is all seriousness, the performers get the audience up out of their chairs and on stage, learning traditional hula and the Hawaiian language, smiling and laughing throughout it all. Kualoa is an enchanting experience that tugs on the heartstrings. It will leave you in awe of the Hawaiian culture and mesmerize you with its natural landscape and unspoiled beauty. Take a tour through Kualoa Ranch and transport to another world of culture, legend, and land that was traditionally Hawaiian.