Hawaiian Vacation
February, 2009

Our first Friday in Hawaii we drove around Oahu, or at least as far as we could. We left Honolulu on the Pali (Cliff) Highway. Driving in Hawaii, and not getting lost, is a challenge. Most streets have Hawaiian names and because there are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet many street names on signs look very similar. I missed a lot of turns.

Turtle Island

We took the Pali Highway, through a tunnel and along the cliffs, to the east coast and the Kualoa Ranch. As you approach the coast you can see this point of land that's almost an island. It sort of looks like a turtle. But the 'tail' is a causeway leading to the main facility, a U.S. Marine Corps Air Station.

Kualoa Ranch is more than a tourist attraction. It's also a working ranch. This is one of the buildings, similar to the main ticket office/gift shop/restaurant. We arrived just in time for tickets on the 11:00am movie set tour.

Kualoa Ranch
Jackie and the Kualoa bus

The tour ride is in old school buses. There were three buses, one with narration in English and two with Japanese narration. The majority of tourists, especially on Oahu, are Japanese.

When the Kualoa Ranch was started one of the first crops was sugar cane. This is the remains of their sugar mill. While growing and processing the cane worked well, it wasn't profitable and the mill was abandoned after a few years.

Kualoa Sugar Mill
Kualoa Ranch Military Remnants

Like much of Hawaii, especially the island of Oahu, there were military defense installations at Kualoa Ranch during World War II. This is the remains of an observation post.

Today Kualoa Ranch had diversified crops. One is Orchids. This field is covered with black netting to protect the plants from the sun and strong coastal winds.

Orchid Field
Kualoa Longhorns

What would a ranch be without cattle? Being from Texas we're used to seeing longhorns, but it was quite a surprise to see them on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Now we're getting to the part of the ranch where movies and TV shows are filmed. This is a wide shot of Kualoa Valley. Much of the TV show Lost is filmed here. After getting home we watched an episode and could recognize many scenes from our tour.

Lost Valley
Jurassic Park Scene

If you've seen Jurassic Park you may remember the scene where small dinosaurs and humans are running from a huge T-Rex. Some jumped over a downed tree. The tree is still there, although we didn't jump over it.

For the move Dinosaur giant footprints were created. At first they were quite deep, but after the filming they were filled. To many cattle were falling in.

Dinosaur Foot Print
Mighty Joe Young

Parts of Mighty Joe Young were filmed here. The buildings, made to look good but not to last, are falling apart. Others, especially in "Action/Adventure" films, were destroyed while being filmed.

This gun and foxhole were in the movie Wind Talkers. Oahu substituted for other Pacific Islands.

Wind Talkers
You and Me Dupree

The sign say "You and Me, Dupree", but to be honest, I never heard of this movie. I guess they can't all be Jurassic Park.

As the tour ended we came to this great view of "Chinaman's Hat" island. It's used in the Kualoa Ranch on their website.

Wind Talkers

After touring the ranch we continued our drive around Oahu. Next stop was Waimea Bay on the North Shore. Brochures said it was the top surfing beach on the island with waves to 30 or 40 feet. I'd hope to see them, not surf them. But the weather wasn't right and the sea was almost flat. We did go to a park overlooking the bay in the historic city of Haleiwa and had a picnic lunch.

Dole Plantation

Next stop was the Dole Plantation. This was the heart of pineapple production in earlier years, but today it's mainly for tourists..

One of the attractions is a garden with tropical plants and dozens of varieties of pineapple. I never knew there were so many.

Dole Garden
Checking a Pineapple Plant

This is one of the more familiar plants. I had to check it out.

Visitors can see the fields of pineapple by riding the Pineapple Express. There's a small charge, but it's worth it to see how the fruit is actually grown.

Pineapple Express
Pineapple Fields

The fields of pineapple are irrigated. When harvesting the fruit, workers must wear protective clothing. Those plants have lots of sharp spikes. After harvesting the first pineapple from a plant it will grow a second. After that the plants are replaced.

The train makes a loop around this garden. Bushes are shaped like a pineapple. The lake in the background is a retaining pond for irrigation. Most fresh water on the islands is collected rainwater.

Train Loop
Pineapple Demonstration

After the train we stopped in the gift shop and snack bar and had their "pineapple whip" ice cream. Jackie had a cone; I had a sundae with, of course, pineapple topping.

We also saw a demonstration, with samples, of cutting and serving pineapple.

After the Dole Plantation we drove past Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Air Force Base were involved in the Pearl Harbor attack. From there it was a short in distance but long in time drive back to our hotel. Traffic jams in Honolulu are as bad as any big city on the mainland.

This page has gotten long, so I'll put tomorrow's adventure, Climbing Diamond Head, on the next one. Just click the usual arrow.

Oahu, Page 2
Hawaii Home  
Oahu, Page 4