March 9th, 2022
Today would be the second day using the Go City Oahu pass and while we only used 2 attractions we pretty much got the full value out of the card in a single day! Meaning, everything we did on day-1 and day-3 were freebies! We were also going to explore the remaining beaches and sites on the east coast in and around the Waimānalo area.
Our first attraction was booked for 11:00 am, at Kualoa Ranch. This attraction, like the Luau, had to be pre-booked but this is expected at places such as these as these are super popular tours that sell out in advance.
The last few days had presented us with less than optimal sleeping conditions and we really have not had a good night’s sleep since Vegas, so the huge comfy king bed demanded as long a lie-in as possible. This meant we missed breakfast and had to grab some pop-tarts on the go on the way to the Ranch. With all the heat, humidity, and jet lag our appetites were pretty suppressed really.
Kualoa Ranch – Movie Sites Tour – $54 (-$10)
The Drive out to the Ranch was really enjoyable as we headed over the LikeLike Highway and then up the Kamehameha Hwy which is a really scenic drive. The Booking stated we needed to arrive 45mins before the tour but this was frankly ridiculous and we arrived at the ticket desk at 10:45.
The Movie Sites tour is our favorite tour at Kualoa, taking you up into the Kuaualoa Valley and showing all the sites and locations where some of our favorite films were shot. Including Jurrasic Park obviously. Unfortunately, this is not listed on the Go Oahu Pass, but it is available as an upgrade to one of the other tours. This costs $10 so in effect, you lose a little of the value. So basically you are saving $44.40 instead of $54.40. You can do one of the included tours such as the Secret Island, Voyaging Catamaran, or the Farm tour, but the Movie Sites is our Top Pick. The Jungle Tour is also available as an upgrade too.
Make sure you get to the pick-up point early as they really cram you on the bus and some people may not get to sit with their whole party if they are late to board. Other than this the tour is on a large windowless bus offering great views of the Ranch and the Valley.
The First Highlight was a Wild Boar that was foraging near the visitors center, which was apparently a rare sight! We then headed up the hillside to an old WW2 bunker that was the first stop of the tour. The views from up here were spectacular and inside the bunker is a whole host of props and posters from the myriad of Movies that have been shot here. It really is a case of, if Hollywood wants a tropical location, they come here!
After some time exploring the exhibits we re-board the Bus and head down into the Operational Part of the Ranch. Here we are shown the various working parts of the ranch such as the fruit orchards, the pig stys, and the various Cattle ranching facilities. The Pig stys are also the Wooden hanger that was used in the Dance Fighting Scene in Jumanji (2017).
Next, the tour heads up into the simply stunning Kualoa Valley. Here you are shown multiple sites from various films such as King Kong, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, 50 First Dates, Mighty Joe Young, Jumanji, Lost, and of course Jurrasic Park (and Jurrasic World). The Highlight is the T-Rex Tree used in the Galamimus Scene. After touring the various sites and taking in the sheer beauty of the Valley, the tour heads to a final stop called the Bone Yard.
Here there is a collection of Prop in the form of oversized dinosaur bones and the Skull of Kong. These are leftovers from Kong: Skull Island and show the “magic” f movie making. The Bones are all Polystyrene and can easily be lifted up. This is the perfect spot for some great selfies and bone shots. Our guide was more than happy to get some shots for anyone who wanted a family, couple, or group picture.
The final leg is back to the Ranch through the Jungle and the Guide tells a little about the habitat and the wildlife of the area, again we saw Wild Hogs that are more common in this area, and then finally back down to the Ranch.
It’s an amazing 90min tour filled with interesting facts about the area, the ranch, the habitat, and of course the great films and TV shows made here. Unfortunately, you are limited to one Kualoa Tour per day so after the tour, we headed off to find something else to do.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
The first Stop was the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens. This is a FREE attraction and at times feels like driving into the Garden of Eden. The grounds are so incredibly lush and green and backed by verdant mountains it is truly stunning.
One of the highlights of the Gardens has been Kapu’ed or forbidden. The road had become an Instagram hotspot. The perspective of the Palm lined tarmac framing the Jurassic-style mountains in the rear is a really stunning composition. This led to people abandoning cars and blocking the fairly small roadway and causing a safety issue.
So they posted a guard and lined the whole road with cones and signs forbidding any stopping or photography on the roadway. And even if you do illegally stop, your shot will be filled with cones and signs and all sorts of unwanted clutter.
The lesson here is only to head to the gardens for the wonderful exhibits, not the Instagram road shot. How we acquired this shot, will go to our grave, but no illegal stopping was committed, but there has been some heavy editing!
The next stop was Waimanalo Beach. A huge golden expanse of golden sand lapped by clear azure blue waters and a pretty accurate representation of what people imagine when coming to Hawaii. A real picture-perfect beach in paradise!
The sun had now really come out and we spent a few hours here sunbathing and playing in the warm playful waters. The surf here is much calmer than the pounding breakers over on the north shore.
From here we carried on exploring down the coastline, visiting Makapuu Beach Park, Makapuʻu Lookout, Sandy Beach, Halona Beach Cove, and the Halona Blow Hole. This coastline is really stunning and far less built-up than the Waikiki shoreline. We really just enjoyed our time exploring and getting some nice shots of the beaches for our Oahu Beach Guide.
Ka Moana Luau – Splash Seating – $165
Our final stop of the day was the Premium attraction we had chosen on our Pass. The Ka Moana Luau. We were really happy to get back to the Island to start checking out how the luaus are fairing since the pandemic.
Prices have really shot skywards and even the more basic Luau’s such as the Ka Moana have soared in price. Unfortunately, they have not really upped the offering any and it seems simply a case of making up for lost revenue. Having the Luau included on the pass certainly helps soften the blow slightly.
Parking is an unwelcome $10, and those that have shelled out $165 per person might be pretty peeved at that! Inside the Park, the entry process is a little fragmented. reminiscent of an airline boarding gate.
Eventually, we were let in and received our Lei’s, which were unfortunately Shell Leis! Our Splash seats were fairly decent but the stage was a way off and there was a lighting pole in the way. The Splash level is the second top tier so we really expected better seats. Top Tier seating is an extra $50 and gets you right at the front (plus an extra drink and flower lei). It seems very few people actually opt for the classic seating and really it’s just a way to upsell.
The Splash seating affords two drinks at the TIKI Bar and we naturally opted for Mai-Tais. These were fairly decent but used a premix, although there was plenty of Dark Rum thrown in on top.
The activities were all a bit rushed. you could queue for a photo, help make your own headband out of palm leaves, learn the Hula, and a few other things. The timing of the night’s events was a bit random. The Imu Ceremony happened while half of the guests were queuing for the buffet and the same with the incredible Coconut Tree CLimbing, meaning some people missed out on things.
Foodwise things were ok. We still had the Polynesian Cultural Centers Feast on our minds which was sensational, and this fell a long way short. The mains were decent enough with some fried fish, Kalua Pork, and a really good Huli Huli Chicken. But the sides were disappointing and there was no Poke in sight! Dessert was just coconut ice cream and they had run out of sprinkles by the time we arrived!
On to the show, and again we needed to try and block out the Ha: Breath of Life show as this was not on the same level. But the performers are still really good and this is far more of a traditional Luau show. The backdrop is really stunning and overlooks the ocean with the wonderful mountains behind it. There were Two lead dancers who were really incredible and led from the front with a lot of passion and energy. The show was really pretty long and had a fantastic Fire Dancing set with a young 11-year-old dancer, learning his trade for the future.
This trip had really been one for the Girls and the Female Fire dancer really put the boys to shame! Everything they could do, she did faster and better and with more FIRE!
When the show was drawing to a close we started heading for the exit. We wanted to get a drop in the Carpark and while we didn’t want to be rude, the show was definitely winding up and we have seen it before.
It had been a LONG day and we headed back into the City tired and ready for bed, we spent an hour or two on the Lanai making up for the restricted drinks at the Luau then went straight to sleep. With just one day remaining we felt a little sad out our Latest Hawaii adventure was drawing to a close.
We only used two attractions on our second day, but as we fired off our premium choice the cost for the single day covered the entire pass. Added to what we saved on the first day of the pass and we are into serious savings territory and we have a whole day to go on the pass. We spent 4-5 hours relaxing on the beach and exploring some of Oahus’ hidden Gems so it’s not like we let the pass control the day, we just did a couple of really fun things that we would have done anyway and had a load of beach and exploration time too!
- Kualoa Ranch Movie Sites Tour – $54 (-$10)
- Ka Moana Luau – Splash Seating – $165
- Total for Day – $209
Go City Oahu Pass Running Total – $351