The concierge desks I work at all have a gigantic television, usually behind my head, with a non stop loop showing some of the most amazing Hawaiian destinations. Guests often oooh and ahhh and squeek, “I want to go there!” and point at the screen, always when Kualoa Ranch is on. Without turning around I know what they’re looking at – because this place has so much it offer. Kualoa Ranch is over 4000 acres of nature preserve on the North Shore of Hawaii’s most visited island: Oahu. Aside from being a working cattle ranch, it offers plenty of amazing one-of-a-kind experiences that you can choose from and do many all in one day. Keeping in mind, also, it’s a filming location to many beloved films from the Jurassic Park films down to a favorite of mine: 50 First Dates.
Not all of their experiences are doable for the fluffy folk of the world – so that is why I’m here! To let you know which ones will work for you and to take a bullet for team fluffy and try them out first! The activities available include ATV riding, Catamaran sails, Zip-lining, Horseback riding, Movie tours, trips out to a Secret Island … and many more.
Arriving at Kualoa, you’re firstly reminded that it is indeed, a ranch. They have horses out front grazing and cows in the distance mooing. The first PSG rating I will give the ranch is that merely visiting the ranch store requires at least a PSG Rating of 3-4. Being able to climb 1-2 flights of stairs, as well as walk over uneven terrain is a must. There are plenty of places to rest in the shade, however, the activities and restrooms and lockers, etc., are all spread out.
I’d brought Mom along on this trip and for us, I had chosen 3 activities for our day: ATV riding, The Movie Tour and Secret Island Beach!!
Now, I had ATV’ed once before in the sand dunes of Pismo Beach, California, and it was a blast! Therefore, I was really excited to get back on an ATV and have a great time. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication with my booking and instead of getting booked on individual ATV’s – we were booked on a Raptor – which is more of an all terrain buggy. I’m not going to lie, I was shattered when I found out I wasn’t going to ATV. It was one of the main things I was looking forward to doing and I got a wee bit gloomy upon discovery. Then when we got in to go, and I was too fluffy to sit behind the steering wheel… well I got positively melancholy.
This meant my Mother would be driving. And let me paint that picture for you – she worked for a prominent auto insurance company for 20+ years in their claims department, listening to the aftermath of car accidents galore. She is sometimes in violation of going slower than the minimum speeds on some roads. So, she’s not exactly the right candidate to be driving an ATV if you want to, oh I don’t know…. HAVE FUN. However, it is what it is. When we got to our first bump in the road, she literally slowed down and veered around it. Aside from making me want to rip my own skin off, it made me a bit more sad that I wasn’t having the rip roarin’ fun I was supposed to be having on this highly anticipated trip to Oahu. From the photo below you can probably tell how I was feeling after 10 minutes of dodging fun:
At our first stop for photos, however, our guide cheered me up a little with his goofiness, and I had a little pow wow with Mom. “You’re not supposed to avoid the mud puddles and slow down when it gets bumpy!” I said. “Oh.” she said pursing her lips. The rest of the trip was a lot more fun…
She really got in the spirit and we even got a little dirty! After ATV’ing , we headed over to have their buffet lunch, which was actually quite tasty and highly recommended! The tour itself is the same tour you’d get whether ATV’ing or on the Buggy, and I had a great time once I pulled up my big girl panties. The valley you drive through is the same valley from 50 First Dates and Jurassic Park – so amazing and beautiful!
PSG Rating for ATV’ing on individual bikes: 4-5
PSG Rating for Raptor Buggies: 3-4
Next it was time to go to Secret Island Beach. You take a little ferry from a nearby dock and you get on Secret Island beach. There are hammocks and kayaks and stand up paddle boards and beach chairs and games galore! The perfect beach get away! Unfortunately, I worried a hammock wouldn’t hold me, a kayak wouldn’t hold me and I’ve tried stand up paddling before – and the word ‘wipeout’ comes to mind. So I decided to do what I do and snorkel. However, the weather just wasn’t having it, so visibility was poor. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy sitting on the beach building a sand castle to destroy and getting some vitamin d relaxing in the sun.
There are bathrooms and changing rooms and the staff is very nice!
PSG Rating for Secret Island / Secret Beach: 2
After the beach, our final activity was The Movie Tour – which was amazing! There were plenty of amazing photo op stops – and I would advise if you’re really into 50 First Dates like I am, that you either take the VIP movie tour OR go to secret beach. The reason is the Hukilau Cafe building is right where you take your ferry from to get to secret beach and the VIP movie tour goes there, not the regular movie tour.
I had many more pictures from the movie tour on my waterproof camera – that turned out to not be waterproof. So… Here are a taste of what you might see on the movie tour:
PSG Rating Movie Tour – 2
I actually cannot wait to get back to Kualoa Ranch! Next time I’m actually going to go ATV’ing and try out the Jungle Expedition as well as the Catamaran trip!
Other tours Kualoa Offer:
Zip-Lining tour: 280 max weight – PSG Rating 7-8
Horseback Riding tour: 230 max weight – PSG Rating 6-8