Oahu is one of the most ruggedly beautiful islands in Hawaii, but you have to get out of Waikiki to see it, and one of the best places to go on Oahu to see the island’s true beauty is Kualoa Ranch. Located on the windward coast of Oahu (one of the most dramatically beautiful areas of the island), Kualoa Ranch is a major tourist draw because of its beauty, history, and unique activities.
On my last trip to Oahu, I booked an ATV tour at the ranch, but before I get into the details, here are 6 things to do at Kualoa Ranch:
Things to Do at Kualoa Ranch
1.ATV Tour: One of the most popular activities on Oahu right now is an ATV tour at Kualoa Ranch. They offer one and two hour tours along the winding ranch roads. An ATV tour is a great way to see the beauty of the ranch while still having a bit of an adventure.
2.Movie Tours: Part of what’s made Kualoa Ranch so famous are the movies that have been filmed there. Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Skull Island, 50 First Dates, Pearl Harbor, Lost, and Hawaii 5-0 were all filmed at the ranch and there are a couple of different tours offered that cater to movie buffs.
3.Zipline: If you’ve wanted to try out ziplining, Kualoa is the perfect place to try it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to zip through the valley where Jurassic World was filmed?
4.Foodie Tour: Food lovers will enjoy this farm to table tour that makes stops at the ranch’s shrimp and tilapia ponds, oyster farm, tropical fruit gardens, and ranch lands where you’ll sample plenty of produce, seafood, and beef.
5.A Trip to Secret Island Beach: If you prefer your adventures at a slower pace, you’ll love a trip to secret island beach. Relax and spend the day laying in a hammock or try out different watersports.
6.Horseback Riding: If you want to explore the valleys of Kualoa Ranch at a more leisurely pace, one and two hour horseback ride tours are just the thing.
So now, here’s everything you need to know about the ATV tours at Kualoa Ranch:
Kualoa Ranch ATV Tours
A few weeks before my trip, I was lucky enough to snag a spot for two on the one-hour ATV tour so I snapped it up! Our tour was scheduled at 1 PM and it rained off and on all morning but by the time our tour rolled around, we had blue skies.
We checked in for our tour about 15 minutes early, watched a safety briefing, and then loaded up onto our bikes. There were probably about 30 people on the one-hour tour with three separate guides. Our group of about 10 or so followed our guide around a small trail loop so they could make sure everyone was comfortable riding the ATV. They took an action photo of everyone as we rode by and then we were off!
We rode down dirt roads past an old WWII bunker, and saw some incredible ocean views before we rode into the first valley. Since we were on the shorter tour (only one hour), this was our only stop. We climbed to the top of a hill and could see several of Godzilla’s “footprints.” We probably spent 10-15 minutes at this spot and it was the only place we were allowed to take pictures (you can’t take pics while you’re driving the ATVs).
After we left there, we continued on past some movie sites (there were signs posted so you knew what was filmed where as you rode by) and saw a giant Kong skull that was left over from filming Skull Island.
At this point, we started retracing our path and riding back towards the ranch. We did do quite a bit of fun little side trails though and since it had been raining, we had quite a bit of mud to slosh around in.
When we got back to the ranch, we parked the ATVs in a line, returned all of our gear, and we were done. Honestly, the one-hour tour was not nearly long enough! I felt like I was just getting settled and then it was over.
I’ve already decided that I’m going to do the two-hour tour on my next trip. And I’d also like to do one of the movie tours. The movie tours are by bus or van so you get a good narration from your guide about what you’re seeing (and you also get to go inside the WWII bunker) instead of just seeing the signs as you ride by.
Not sure where to begin with putting together an itinerary for your trip? It’s a big task! I mean, how much can you really do in one vacation? And how do you plan things so you’re not backtracking all over the island trying to fit everything in? I’m letting you in on ALL of my itinerary planning secrets in. Sign up below to grab my FREE 7-page Hawaii itinerary planning guide that will lead you through planning the perfect Hawaii itinerary. Click the graphic below to sign up!
Things to Know about ATV Tours
- The 2-hour tour is the most popular excursion and it sells out fast so make sure you book in advance.
- The Tours go rain or shine, but if it’s raining, they have ponchos for you.
- Helmets and glasses are required and provided (but you can wear your sunglasses instead). They also provide shower caps that you can wear under your helmet.
- You have to wear closed toe shoes but other than that, shorts and tee shirts are fine.
- If it’s been raining, it will be muddy and your shoes could get splashed (mine did!).
- You can wear a backpack.
- You’re not allowed to get your phone or camera out unless you’re stopped so if you want pics/video of everything, you’ll want to wear a GoPro strapped to you.
- This tour (while fun!) is for beginners so don’t worry if you’ve never ridden ATVs before.
- Pick up is available in Waikiki for $15/person.
- Once you get on the bike, if they determine that you’re not able to ride is safely (or you do something against the rules), they’ll have you ride in a Raptor (four seater ATV) with a guide for the rest of the tour.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to plan the perfect Oahu itinerary? I’ve got just the thing for you!
Oahu Bound! I’ve put together the BEST Oahu itineraries you’ll find anywhere! These are the itineraries I use on my trips to Oahu (plus a few tweaks because hindsight is 20/20 right?) and they’re perfect for first time and repeat visitors who want to see the very best of Oahu.
Check it out here.
I’ve included everything from the best snorkeling spots, beaches, and excursions and it’s all broken down by each part of the island so you won’t waste any time backtracking.
So what exactly do you get? With Oahu Bound, you’ll get a 3, 4, 5, and 6-day itinerary and I’m not just talking about a bullet point list of to dos. Each itinerary comes with 10-15 pages of commentary explaining why I recommend doing certain things (plus various options to suit your interests). Each itinerary also comes with its own Google Map (broken down by day). You’ll also get an itinerary template that you can use to make your own, along with extensive tips on creating your own itinerary, a huge list of things to do on Oahu, and directions for making your own Google Maps.
This is basically vacation in a box, friend! Just add a bit of salt water and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime!
Click here to grab the Oahu Bound itinerary bundle.