John and David Morgan of Kualoa Ranch display their farm-raised oysters. // © 2014 Kualoa
The word “ranch” may conjure up images of serene pastures dotted with grazing cattle and horses, but that’s just a small part of what defines Kualoa Ranch. There’s much more in store for visitors at this cultural, agricultural and recreational oasis, which continues to evolve while sustaining the legacy of its past.
John Morgan, president of Kualoa, represents the sixth generation of the family that owns the property, which was once home to Hawaiian royalty. According to Morgan, the family’s main goal is to preserve the land and heritage of the 4,000-acre windward Oahu ranch while also making it a fun and educational attraction.
Morgan and his team have several projects in the works to keep the Kualoa experience fresh. For instance, they’re tapping the agricultural tourism trend by promoting their farm-grown fare, emphasizing the importance of upholding the region’s rural spirit.
A working ranch with roughly 500 head of cattle, Kualoa started selling its grass-fed beef in 2011. Since February 2014, live oysters cultivated in the property’s ancient fishpond are also for sale. Last but not least, Kualoa grows vegetables for its own catering services and the local markets. Clients can sample these agricultural products at the on-site restaurant, order them online for pickup at the ranch or try samples and purchase them at farmers markets.
“We will be expanding our current Movie Site and Ranch Tour in 2015 to include a tour of some of the farmlands,” said Morgan. “We have already started some exclusive programs, such as a weekly shore excursion with Norwegian Cruise Line that includes a tour of the oyster farm with lunch.”
In other news, Kualoa has introduced a new pond boat inspired by Hawaii’s Hokulea voyaging canoe. The double-hulled, flat-bottom vessel enhances Kualoa’s Ocean Voyaging Tour, during which guests learn about ancient sailing traditions.
As ziplining soars in popularity, Kualoa is following suit by adding its own zipline tour. Since the course is under construction, Morgan wasn’t ready to release further information at press time.
Horseback riding has been a natural fit for the ranch, and Kualoa continues to expand upon it for guests. It recently launched a horsemanship class for beginners of all ages, with lessons in brushing, feeding and mounting a horse, followed by a short ride led by a guide.
“We have so many visitors who are interested in a hands-on experience with our horses, but aren’t yet ready for a one- or two-hour guided trail ride,” said Morgan.
These newer additions complement Kualoa’s existing draws, the most popular of which is the Movie Sites and Ranch Tour. Guests on this tour visit the filming locations of about two dozen movies and television shows. Clients gain a greater appreciation of the ranch’s heritage during programs such as the Legends and Legacy Tour; Jungle Expedition Tour; and Ancient Hawaiian Fishpond and Tropical Gardens Tour. Active visitors have opportunities for hiking, all-terrain vehicle rides and ocean fun at Secret Island, the property’s secluded beach.
All told, Kualoa clearly has one foot planted firmly in the past while the other strides to the future.