We begrudging trudged over to Hilton Hawaiian Village before dawn to catch our bus to Kualoa Ranch. A man, loudly trying to quiet the voices in his head, trailed erratically along behind us some of the way. I worried he would be hit by a car as he weaved around the road, but somehow he made it past the Hilton in one piece.
The bus depot was full of sleepy tourists waiting for their sightseeing buses.
I was just thankful we were in the right location and not having to race around in distress trying to make it to another bus stop before we missed our ride out.
Two young guides processed us and we boarded our bus. The gently-spoken bus driver welcomed us and told us it would be a 3 hour drive, so to sit back and let him do the hard work. And with that he turned on some hula music, leaning me with my mouth wide open. 3 hours? I was sure it wasn’t even a 1 hour drive. No one else in the bus seemed taken aback though.
Oh wait, someone was taken aback. The teenager Flynn tapped me from behind and whispered ‘3 hours???? I don’t think I want to do this. I left my headphones behind. Do you have any?’
A few minutes later, he leaned forward again and whispered ‘I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to go to this place today.’
It was actually only a fifty minute drive. We drove past impossibly beautiful, rippled, jagged ( yet lusciously green) mountain ranges- like nothing I have ever seen.
As Flynn leant forward to whisper another complaint, I whispered back. ‘You don’t need your headphones, or your game. Fake worlds on your iPad are fine, but only if you are able to open your eyes and enjoy REAL world too. Look out the window!’
And to his credit, he did.
The ranch is vast, set against a backdrop of another incredible mountain range. Several buses were arriving as we pulled in.
The place is well oiled machine. The ranch offers about 10 different experiences so once we were registered and split off into groups we didn’t feel too crowded.
The pubescent child got in one final grumble as we sat on a bench near all the horses being saddled for the group doing the horseback adventure. ‘No one told me this was a ranch’, he scowled, ‘I don’t like ranches.’
We all laughed hysterically at the ridiculousness of it and he couldn’t help but join in.
I had booked us a 3 tours + lunch special.
Our first tour was ‘A taste of Kualoa’
Our open air truck journeyed through the self sustaining tropical fruit gardens and fish ponds.
We made a stop at one of the movie locations for Lost and Fifty First Dates among many others.
Towards the end of this tour we sampled breadfruit chips, dried fish ( a much-loved Hawaiian snack) papaya, taro and we cracked our own macadamia nuts. The ranch is focused on getting back to its heritage of being like its self-sustaining Hawaiian ancestors.
Our second tour was the one everyone was keen for: the Hollywood movie site tour.
It was actually far better and delivered so much more than I had even hoped. So many movies we know have had scenes filmed here.
Jumanji spent 6 weeks there to film a 45 second scene!
We were especially interested in the Lost filming locations and we were not disappointed.
Inside the bunker where scenes from Lost were filmed:
Our tour guide for this tour was hilarious cracking lots of pipi ( ‘cow’ in Hawaii and there were a lot of pupils around )and pupu ( ‘small meal’ in Hawaii- which is what many of the animals become) jokes.
Flynn leant over to whisper to me ( in all seriousness) that he was afraid the guide was having a bad influence on me. That ship sailed long ago Flynn. I have always been a sucker for that kind of toilet humor nonsense and giggle away like a maniac if someone says ‘bottom’.
We had a leisurely buffet lunch ‘back at the ranch’. I fed two resident black cats morsels of my meat and the wandering chickens and rooster stole scraps from them with practiced ease.
Our final tour, Jungle Expedition took us into the jungle high up in the mountains, past more movie sites and then we hiked up to a look out. What a privilege to glimpse such beauty.
It was a long but good day.
I had felt ill throughout it though, plus I am allergic to horses and had no antihistamine, so I was now feeling more than a little miserable.
I don’t want to squander our last days of this adventure, but last night- I just needed rest.
We ordered Ubereats from 8 Fat Fat 8 Grill, including the chicken dish hyped by my old school friend Damien. It was tender and beautifully seasoned. I extra liked that there were a lot of ‘pupu’ dishes on the menu so I could say the word out loud legitimately without getting in trouble with the older kids. They somehow didn’t find it nearly as hilarious as I did.
Tonight was the latest we stayed up since we have been here, nearly 11. We watched the first episode of America’s Got Talent- the Champions, pitting the best acts globally against each other. My two faves this particular night got through! Preacher Lawson and Susan Boyle.0