I was not expecting our 7 days in Oahu to turn into a four part series. Alas, here we are.
Bad weather still plaguing us, we opted to skip our kayak and snorkel rental and head to Kualoa Ranch. We didn’t have a reservation, but figured we would try our luck. As it happens there was availability on one of their movie sites tours leaving in 10 minutes. We hopped on the retro converted school bus and were quickly on our way into the valley.
A working Farm
The beginning of the tour took us past some of their grazing cattle and our tour guide gave us lots of info about the history and current workings of the ranch. A single-family owned operation, it is a 4,000 acre private nature reserve and working cattle ranch. They also had many other animals, including chickens and pigs. It doesn’t stop at animals, either. We saw tropical fruit orchards and vegetable plots.
WWII History Lesson
Leaving the first of 3 valleys that comprise the reserve, we drove up along a mountain road. The first stop of the tour was here. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, and as we found out, the entire island of Oahu, bunkers were built into the sides of mountains, including this one. Gun turrets were taken from the attacked ships and placed in front of the bunkers. This gave added protection to the island. The men who manned the guns were stationed in these bunkers.
Today this bunker acts as part museum, part TV set. As you enter the bunker, the walls are lined with photographs and memorabilia from the War. As you turn a corner, an open door shows a room that has been used as a set for the newest adaptation of Hawaii 5-0. Continuing down the next hall, there is a topographical replica of the entire reserve. The walls are covered in posters for movies that have been filmed at Kualoa Ranch. Beginning with an Elivis beach pic all the way to Jurassic World. Exiting the bunker, we passed a room dedicated to Lost, including a black-lit Dharma diagram and old-school desktop computer. Of course I entered 4 8 15 16 23 42… nothing happened. And finally, a jump-shock raptor awaits a photo opportunity.
And now for the best part.
Movies. Kualoa claims to be Hollywood’s Hawaii backlot, and for good reason. So many films and tv shows have filmed here. Some of our favorites include Lost and Jurassic Park. Although both of those productions did most of their filming on other islands, there are some very memorable scenes from each filmed right where we were. Hurley’s golf course, for one. And who could forget when Dr. Allen Grant and the two kids are running from gallimimus in a field and duck behind a large tree trunk. Well, that tree trunk is still there and you get to stop for a photo. I’m not usually super into things like that, but I can seriously geek out over filming locations.
Other movies you might recognize – 50 First Dates, Mighty Joe Young, Jurassic World, Pearl Harbor and Godzilla. Also very exciting was getting to see leftover sets from movies that haven’t been released yet. The new Jumanji filmed there, and even though it isn’t being released till December, we were able to see one of its sets in the distance. Two other very large props were “hidden” with tarps, and our guide said he wasn’t supposed to tell us what it is from, but he didn’t care. They were bone props from the upcoming Kong: Skull Island. I think this experience has made us even more excited to see these movies when they are released.
Continuing in the theme of the day
We drove back towards the albatross sanctuary, because, as it turned out, we had passed something totally worth stopping for – the Other’s Village.
I had noticed that a YMCA camp looked oddly familiar, and when I Googled it later that evening I found out why. Its the Dharma Village! I had to go back. It is kind of a pain to get to, but we had the place all to ourselves. I felt like Sun when she is the only one who returns to the island at present day and finds the village deserted.
I’m not sure what the Y uses the property for now, but the houses were all boarded up and the only other person there was a handy man, who, while jamming out to his iPod, was spraying for pests.
It was eerie, and had the road not been literally right next to it, I would have been completely transported to that mysterious island. It was pretty great. Obviously, I am a huge Lost fan.
Back to Honolulu
After getting our Lost fix, we headed back into the city where we would be spending the night at an airport motel. We checked in, then grabbed a bite to eat and dropped off our rental car. Luckily we were able to get the free airport shuttle back to our digs. When you have a 5am flight (and the car rental place doesn’t open till 7:30) you do what you gotta do.
Up next, the island of Hawai’i!