This Ranch on Oahu Is Basically Hollywood's Hawaiian Filming Lot
Some of the biggest movies and TV shows have been shot here (Jurassic Park! Lost!), and you can visit.
Oahu’s windward side is home to verdant rainforests, straw-colored sandy beaches, and a 4,000-acre ranch and nature reserve that’s garnered the nickname “Hollywood’s Hawaiian Lot.”
More than 70 movies and television shows have been filmed here on Kualoa Ranch’s lush, sprawling plot of rolling valleys and emerald mountains—and it’s not just filmmakers, actors, and crew who have the opportunity to visit. The ranch is open to the public for tours that may cause feelings of silver screen-related déjà vu.
A landscape of fallen trees and dense brush in the reserve’s northern sector will call to mind towering dinosaurs and vicious predators. Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, and Godzilla filmed here, as did the Jumanji remake with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart.
Rom-com lovers will recognize the road where a distracted Lucy (Drew Barrymore) drives over Henry’s (Adam Sandler) penguin Willy, narrowly missing his head—and his attempt to strike up a love connection, in 50 First Dates.
An enormous skull and several bones still litter one of the valleys, remnants the set of Kong: Skull Island–the cinematic origin story of King Kong himself.
War film buffs will recall eyeing WWII bunkers (leftover from when the ranch was a U.S. military airfield) in films like Pearl Harbor and Windtalkers.
Small screen classics like Lost, Magnum P.I., and Hawaii Five-0 filmed amid the mountains and rolling valleys of the Kualoa Ranch too. Several episodes of each—and Hurley’s golf course in LOST—are exactly on this Oahu gem.
Ready to experience Hollywood’s Hawaiian Lot? Here’s how to plan your visit.
How to Visit Kualoa Ranch
About 28 miles from the buzz of Waikiki Beach is quiet Kualoa Ranch. Rent a car, hop in an Uber, or catch the Honolulu City Bus for a 40-minute drive along a winding two-lane highway.
Most of the excursions are limited to six or 10 visitors per guide, so make sure to book ahead. Kualoa Ranch aims to maintain this low “guide-to-guest” ratio so you get the best experience.
Pick from one- or multi-hour trips on a multi-passenger UTV, single-passenger ATV, horseback, Jeep, bus, or trolley. You can also see portions of the farm by zipline, kayak, or Catamaran.
Each mode of transport offers a slightly different view of the reserve. The one- and two-hour UTV tours allow small groups to rip and roar through the landscape, taking in vistas from an up-close perspective. (You may also get cozy with rain, mud, or dirt, so dress accordingly.)
If you like the leisurely pace of a horse trot, book a one- or two-hour horseback tour. If you like a little of everything, look to the all-inclusive multi-tour packages. You get several trips at a discounted price. See all of Kualoa Ranch's tour options here.
What to Expect
In addition to famous filming locations, the farm is also home to more than 600 head of cattle, 120 horses, and 200 sheep. You’ll spot gardens rich with homegrown food you can enjoy as part of a Kualoa-Grown Farm-to-Table Tour.
As compelling as its place in filmmaking history is, Kualoa Ranch offers so much more. The reserve’s southern half, Hakipu’u Valley is home to dense rainforests, an 800-year-old fishpond (registered on the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Registry of Historical Places), and Secret Island beach. You can also spot Mokolii, a small island off the eastern coast of Oahu that’s known affectionately to locals as Chinaman’s Hat.
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The reserve’s staff works to maintain Kualoa’s lands as both a way to celebrate its history—legend holds that native Hawaiians once came to Kualoa as a pu’uhonua, or place of worship, where they could seek forgiveness—and to develop sustainable ways and responsible enterprises that will allow Hawaiian natives and visitors alike to continue enjoying this special place for decades to come.
Prices start at $47.95 for adults; children’s rates are lower; kualoa.com.
Kualoa Ranch recommends scheduling your tour two to three weeks ahead of time; some larger group excursions, like the bus tour, may be booked closer to your visit.
If you show up without a reservation, don’t fret: The ranch offers several activities that don’t require claiming a spot ahead of time. These include a petting zoo, gardens, and more.