Kualoa Ranch: Discovering Moli’i Fishpond

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Kualoa Ranch: Discovering Moli’i Fishpond

Kualoa Ranch is located on the northeastern side of Oahu in the countryside, less than an hour from Honolulu. The ranch terrain varies from rainforests and valleys to awesome cliff faces. It is truly a paradise for outdoor recreation, with many places accessible only by horseback or by foot. It is a beautiful spot not to be missed on a visit to 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.

Moili Fishpod

Moili fishpond
Moili Fishpond

One of the many things you can discover on the Kualoa property is the 800-year-old Moli’i fishpond. To my amazement, nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, it is one of the largest fishponds in Hawaii. Ancient Hawaiian fishponds like this are an exemplary testament to the ingenuity of early civilizations and a good example of aquaculture. Hawaiians, showcasing their unique understanding of nature, are the only Polynesians known to harness the ocean in this distinctive manner, using brackish water ponds near the ocean for stocking, nurturing, and efficiently harvesting fish. They are usually constructed from lava rock walls, forming either semicircular or rectangular enclosures extending from the coastline. These ponds are linked to the ocean through sluice gates, enabling the exchange of seawater.

The Wildlife Management Institute reports that the Hawaiian Islands now have only 38 active fishponds, a significant decline from the over 450 that were operational in precolonial times. Thankfully, there are numerous organizations and agencies dedicated to the restoration and revitalization of these traditional fishponds.

Each of Hawaii’s surviving fishponds boasts a unique history, yet they all share the age-old techniques of managed fisheries. Typically, these fishponds are associated with a guardian spirit, or “mo’o,” and often, there are legends of the mischievous “menehune” who supposedly completed their construction overnight, transporting stones for the walls from distant locations.
Unfortunately, the majority of these remarkable engineering feats were lost over the past two centuries due to various exploitative and extractive land use practices. Fortunately, civic and governmental agencies frequently collaborate to safeguard and conserve the remaining fishponds in Hawaii.

Movie/TV Tour

movies filmed at Kualoa Ranch
Movies Filmed at Kualoa Ranch

Over the years Kualoa Ranch has gained fame as a popular filming location for films and television the “Lost” television series. Kualoa Ranch offers a movie tour but the most popular is the Jurassic Park Adventure tour. This tour focuses entirely on the Jurassic Park films with lots of stops to view memorabilia, sets, and props. The friendly guides are full of Trivia to answer questions and interact with guests. Moreover, blockbusters like “Jurassic Park”, Jurassic World, Mike and Dave Needs Wedding Dates”, “Journey 2; The Mysterious Island ”, and “Godzilla” have showcased their scenic vistas, making it a sought-after destination for film enthusiasts. 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.

UTV Adventure

utv adventure Kualoa Ranch
UTV adventure at Kualoa Ranch

Another highly sought-after activity is UTV riding at the ranch. Each vehicle can accommodate up to four passengers, ensuring that guests can enjoy a thrilling two-hour adventure across the expansive property. The knowledgeable and entertaining guides add to the experience. It’s important to note that this activity can get a bit messy, so it’s a good idea to plan for a refreshing shower afterward.

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding Kualoa Ranch
Horseback Riding

Kualoa Ranch also provides the opportunity for horseback riding adventures. During this experience, you’ll have the chance to journey across the ranch and take in some of the island’s most stunning vistas. This guided tour offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the inner workings of this working ranch, providing insight into their land management practices.

E-Bike Tour

e bike tour Kualoa Ranch
E-Bike tours

For those seeking a more personal and immersive experience on the ranch, they offer an e-bike tour. This is a hands-on adventure where the tour guide highlights historical sites and shares insights into the rich culture of the area. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to savor local cuisine, visit a hidden beach, and capture plenty of memorable photo opportunities along the way.

Jungle expedition

jungle expedition tour Oahu
Jungle Expedition

The Jungle Expedition offers an excellent opportunity to explore the flora and fauna of Hawaii. The open-air jungle vehicle used for the tour provides panoramic views and easy access for passengers to take in the sights. As part of this experience, there’s a brief hike that leads to a lookout point, and along the way, the knowledgeable guides share insights about the plants and the ranch’s history.

Ocean Voyage

Ocean Voyage Oahu
Ocean Voyage

The Ocean Voyage Tour is an hour-long cruise around Kaneohe Bay in a Catamaran. The narrated tour takes you around Mokolii Island (Chinaman’s Hat). You’ll learn about the rich history of this area and see the spectacular Ko’olau mountain range.


Zip lining at Kualoa Ranch
Ziplining at Kualoa Ranch

Get a unique view of Oahu’s Ka’a’awa Valley on an exhilarating zipline tour through the Kualoa Ranch. While there are ample ways to explore ranch’s Jurassic Valley, for sweeping tree-top views combined with the adrenaline of ziplining, don’t miss this 14-cable adventure course. Along the way, you can also learn about the valley’s native plants and sacred Hawaiian history from your guide.

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