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Top rated attraction, Kualoa Ranch, located on the northeast side of Oahu is an amazing combination of beauty, heritage, adventure, and multifaceted fun. Its popularity among tourist and locals is unquestioned. There is so much to do and see there, that it could become overwhelming. This year, starting in January and ending in March, the Ranch launched a series of three festivals. Each of these highlighted a different aspect of Hawaiian culture with a goal to appeal to locals and tourists who want to get a closer, more intimate version of many of the Ranch’s menu of activities. It’s sort of like having a private party with access to the activities but in much smaller groups.
Once you arrive at the location, set up on a grassy area high above the main entrance, there is an entrance fee ($7/adult, $5 child) that lets you into the festival and includes all the free entertainment, access to crafts, small farmer’s market, a few choice food trucks, and a short exploration hike. This walk is perfect for all ages and gets you up close to fantastic cliffs and ancient rock structures. For me, all of these could have been enough for most of the afternoon. For additional cost (range $7-20) additional tours can be purchased separately or in a package. The very popular Movie Site Tour is one of the offerings. I have not been on this particular tour, but I have been in the Valley at the spot where the dinosaurs jumped the log in Jurassic Park, and it is pretty darn cool, as is the view of that sweeping valley floor. These are similar to tours offered below at the main center, but at a reduced rate and in a much smaller group. It is a perfect way to experience some of what the Ranch has to offer, interspersed with music, food and crafts, all with a million dollar view.
I missed the first two festivals, regrettably, as those featured tours of the seldom open historic MiliI Fishpond, demos on surfboard shaping, poi pounding, weaving, and much more. The one held this month was focused on song and dance. Free hula classes were fun and challenging for two teens I talked to. And it seemed almost everyone had hit the free lei making station. Local entertainers played traditional Hawaiian songs and a local hula studio provided hula and Tahitian dancing. While I didn’t eat any, there were premium local shrimp and oysters for sale, raised in the Ranch’s pond, along with grass fed beef from their herds. In offering these festivals and opportunities, Kualoa Ranch helps to demonstrate its unique culture and contribution to the Island as a whole.