For our final day in Oahu, we had a buffet breakfast at the Rainbow Lanai restaurant at the resort before checking out and boarding our tour bus just after 7am.
We initially travelled southeast and saw Diamond Head Crater and the area of Kahala, which is kind of like the Beverly Hills of Oahu. Kimoke’o shared with us a real estate listing for a 2.7 acre that was – $48 million with $8,700 per month in property taxes. Yikes.
Our first stop was at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. The view here was stunning and I was thrilled to be able to use my wide angle lens. The tip of the right side of the bay is called Baboon Point because it looks like the face of a baboon.
All over the island we’ve been seeing wild chickens, and Kimoke’o told us that the Hawaiian people brought chickens, pigs, and dogs to the islands via canoe.
We spent some time driving along the South Shore of Oahu, and this area is a lot prettier than the other parts of the island I’ve seen. The views are breathtaking.
While driving along the South Shore, we also saw some of the Hawaiian homestead land. To qualify for this land, you must be have at least 50% native Hawaiian blood. The lease on the land is given for 99 years at $1 per year (this does not include property taxes or the cost of housing). The land can be passed along to children if they have at least 25% Hawaiian blood. Only 2,000 pure blooded Hawaiians left.
On a related note, Hawaii has highest per capita homeless rate in the U.S. due to drugs and cost of living. A gallon of milk is $7.
Our next stop was at the Byodo-In Buddhist temple. It was built in the 1960s and is a replica of a temple in Japan. It is in honor of the first Japanese workers being brought to Hawaii to work in sugar cane fields in the 1860s. This place is beautiful. We had to take our shoes off to enter the temple and see the giant statue of Buddha.
The final stop before heading to the ship was Kuoloa Ranch. We were met by Alan, Krista, and Hadley from the Education Department who gave a presentation before lunch about the ranch and Hawaii.
It is a 4000 acre active cattle ranch that has been in the same family for 168 years. Their number one business is cattle and currently have over 640 heads made up of three types, Angus, Brahman, and Charolais. These are all grass fed and are used for beef. They also have horses that are imported from Canada.
They gave a hula lesson as a way to tell the story of the ahupua (land divisions). Sara volunteered to help out with the hula dance, and that was her favorite part of being at Kuoloa Ranch. We found out that we were in the ahupua of Kuoloa and later would be traveling to Ka’a’awa on our tour of the ranch.
Next they covered various plants and fruits on the island such as ‘ulu (bread fruit), kalo / taro, and the mythical origin of the coconut. Alan showed how the ‘ulu leaves act like Velcro and stuck them to his shirt. He gave Sara one of the leaves and asked her to break it apart and make a design on a family member’s shirt.
Kristin gave us a demonstration of how poi is made from the root of the taro plant. They also had poi made from the ‘ulu root that was beige in color. We got to try both, and I liked the ‘ulu poi a lot more that the traditional taro poi.
Alan also have a demonstration of how to make leis out of Ki leaves. Olivia helped him with the presentation and then we all got to try making them.
After a boxed lunch, we boarded a tram type vehicle driven by Hadley for a tour of the ranch. This was actually a movie sights tour. Over 250 television shows and movies have been filmed filmed here including all of the Jurassic Park movies and the TV show LOST. Most of this was in the Ka’a’awa valley which was ridiculously beautiful. It was instantly recognizable from seeing Jurassic Park.
Along the way we learned that the ranch’s first operation was as a sugar company, and that it was co-opted as a military base during WWII after the Pearl Harbor attack. We saw lots of concrete “pill boxes” on the property which were used to house ammunition during the war.
We also saw the Battery Cooper Bunker which was dug into the ridge separating Kuoloa from Ka’a’awa. Today it houses Hollywood props and memorabilia.
This place was a blast and I could easily have spent a whole day there. Kualoa Ranch was probably my favorite thing that we did while on Oahu. I would love to come back if we ever visit Oahu again.
After leaving Kuoloa Ranch, we headed back to Honolulu to board the NCL Pride of America cruise ship. This is a unique ship in that it is U.S. registered and most of the crew are U.S. citizens. This is what allows them to sail the Hawaiian islands without an international port on the itinerary. Having cruised a fair number of times, it is really strange to hear all of the crew speaking flawless English. It is also strange to see all of the shops on the boat open while docked.
The check-in, boarding, and mustering process were fairly painless compared to other experiences we’ve had in the past.
Dinner was in the Skyline dining room at the back of the ship, and Olivia and I both decided to splurge on chocolate lava cake. I don’t think I’ve had a dessert like this in 19 months. It was great, but will probably be a while before I do that again.
After dinner we watched a variety show in the Hollywood Theater before heading back to the room to finish unpacking and get some sleep. Tomorrow we have our first of two days in Maui.