Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch

Located about 45 minutes north of Honolulu, Kualoa Ranch is a working cattle ranch that has seen some varied transitions since it was established in 1850. Today Kualoa’s owners have diversified the ranch’s activities to keep its 4,000 acres unspoiled and its landscape intact—protected from development. Kualoa means ‘long back,’ referring to the spectacular ridge that towers above the lush valleys below, where at one time up to 1,000 cattle roamed.

Always considered a sacred place, Kualoa Ranch has a rich history, full of folklore and myths. One of those myths is that the Menehune, Hawaii’s legendary little people, built its Moli`i fishpond in only one night. Created over 800 years ago, the fishpond boasts a 4,000-foot rock wall with a series of gates at various intervals. Small fish enter the ponds to feed, and then grow too large to escape. Fishermen then can easily harvest them either by spear or with nets.

When the first Polynesians landed their canoes on Oahu more than 1,500 years ago, many of them established themselves in the fertile Hakipu`u Valley near the foothills of the Kualoa Mountains. It was a place of refuge and sanctuary. Royalty were instructed here in the arts of war, history and social traditions.

Early in the 1800s, missionaries brought religion to Hawaii and began to establish schools. They arranged for a doctor to come from the eastern U.S. to care for the Hawaiian people in 1828. Dr. Gerrit P. Judd became a personal advisor to King Kamehameha III, who eventually allowed Judd to buy 620 acres of land—Kualoa--for $1,300 in 1850. Judd’s son Charles bought the adjacent valleys of Hakipu`u and Ka`a`awa 10 years later and started a sugar plantation. He built the Kualoa Sugar Mill together with his brother-in-law Samuel Wilder in 1863. However, the sugar plantation failed because of a lack of water, and the mill closed only eight years later.

Cattle ranching was the next venture on the combined lands, and it thrived for a number of years. Then the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought a new challenge with the entrance into World War II. The federal government seized a good portion of the property to build an airfield, where large monkeypod trees provided natural hangars for some small planes. Giant bunkers and other installations appeared at the base of Kualoa Ridge.

Many years later when the war was over, the rebuilding of the ranch began. It was a long process to reintroduce cattle, replant pastures and remove the military hardware. Times had changed, and cattle- ranching was no longer profitable. It was a struggle to survive. On top of that, Government tried to seize parts of the property to create public parks.

To keep the lands intact and supplement the cattle and farming businesses, Dr. Judd’s descendants, the Morgans, have developed low-impact recreational activities and educational programs. Fruit and flowers are still grown, as well as fish and prawns for the local markets. Ancient Hawaiian villages have been faithfully recreated, and school children come to camp, hike, mountain bike, and ride horseback. It’s also become a popular film setting for television and movies. Some familiar titles that feature Kualoa’s perfect landscape are Godzilla, Mighty Joe Young, George of the Jungle, Jurassic Park, and most recently, the popular TV show, Lost.

With the careful stewardship of the Morgan family, Kualoa remains as it has for centuries, well-preserved and pristine.


Dolphin Watching

Dolphin Watching

Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where visitors can get close to dolphins in the wild. Imagine the thrill of seeing dolphins playing just offshore—or one of the dolphin-watching tour companies will be glad to take you aboard for a chance to see some amazing acrobatic displays just off the side of the boat. Some operators also offer excursions for snorkeling or swimming with dolphins.

Oahu’s west coast waters at Waianae are the most likely place on the island that you can see nai’a, the Hawaiian name for dolphin. Spinner and bottlenose dolphins are those most commonly sighted, and your chance of catching a glimpse is higher during the morning hours when small groups come near shore to rest and play.

Spinner dolphins are famous for their incredible jumps—they often fly into the air and make several complete spins before diving back into the ocean. Generally five to seven feet long and weighing between 130 and 200 pounds, Hawaii’s spinners are dark gray on their backs, with a stripe of lighter gray on their sides and a white belly.

Why do the spinner dolphins spin? Some think it’s just a joyful expression or a teaching demonstration, but it may also be a courtship display, a method of ejecting water from the upper respiratory tract, or the more mundane reason of ridding themselves of parasites.
Whatever the reason, it’s exciting to watch.

Bottlenose dolphins are larger than the spinners, ranging in size from seven to 10 feet in length and weighing between 600 and 800 pounds. Their backs are a medium gray color, with their sides being lighter gray and their bellies are white or pink. The population of bottlenose dolphins around Hawaii is believed to be a few thousand, but you might see them in groups of two to 15 individuals.

Bottlenose dolphins are the ones you generally see at aquarium shows and on TV programs, and are thought to be one of the most intelligent mammals on planet earth.

A Few Dolphin Facts:

  • Dolphins breathe through a blowhole on top of their head. They are conscious breathers: in other words, they think about when to breathe. They can breathe without surfacing. They blow a bubble when near the water surface and then quickly draw breath in when the bubble forms a bridge between the blowhole and the air, through the water. As the dolphin exhales the air leaves the blowhole at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

  • A dolphin puts one half of its brain to sleep at a time (literally sleeping with one eye open). In this way, it is never completely unconscious.

  • Dolphins hunt mostly at night, eating fish, jellyfish, krill, squid, and small crustaceans. Before diving up to 800 feet into the darkness below, they assemble into a pod, possibly to protect themselves from sharks, which are natural dolphin predators. They find their prey using echolocation.

  • Dolphins are generally believed to have an average life expectancy of about 30 years.




Hawaii boasts many beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs, but none more beautiful or exotic than the orchid. According to experts, the first orchids existed with the dinosaurs over 100 million years ago. There are at least 35,000 known species, and they live in many different environments, including Hawaii’s diverse mini climates, on all continents except for Antarctica.

For centuries, people have admired the orchid as a symbol of love and beauty. In several ancient cultures, orchids were considered so special that only royalty was allowed to own or wear them. Luckily for us, mere mortals are now accepted orchid owners and growers.

Orchids are not hard to grow, but they do need the right conditions to keep them healthy and to persuade them into re-blooming. They need a balance of light, air, water and food to grow and flower well.

Light: Without enough light, your orchid may not bloom. How much light is enough? The foliage should have light, somewhat yellow-green foliage (but not too yellow or reddish, that means too much light). Darker foliage means it’s not getting enough light. Depending on the type of orchid, most will grow beautifully in a sunny window. If placed outside, orchids will need a little more shade. Once the plant blooms, place it anywhere out of direct sunlight.

Air & Media: Orchid roots, and eventually the entire plant, will die without air. This is the reason they are not usually grown in soil, but rather in commercial grower’s mix, tree fern fibers, sphagnum moss, coconut fiber, cinders, peat moss, fir or redwood bark chips.

Air movement is a must—with Hawaii’s gentle trade winds and breezes, it’s no wonder orchids thrive here. Good air movement also prevents cold or hot spots, which can make it more difficult for orchids to grow well.

Water: Orchids should be watered just as they begin to dry out. How to find that out? The best way is to insert a finger into the potting mix. If in doubt, wait a day! If it’s almost dry, take it to the sink and let tepid water run through it for a minute or so. This will also flush out the salts that naturally accumulate. Be sure to let the plant drain completely. Use a paper towel to blot the water from the crown (where the leaves join in the center) to avoid crown rot. It is best to water in the morning or mid-day to allow it to dry before night.

Temperature & Humidity: Orchids thrive in Hawaii because the temperature and humidity is perfect for them—above 60°F at night and between 70° to 80° or higher during the day. Most home temperatures are acceptable for growing orchids.

Fertilizer: Any balanced orchid fertilizer (look at the numbers on the container, 20-20-20, etc.) can be used once or twice a month to fertilize your orchid, unless it’s in bark, in which case it needs more nitrogen: use 30-10-10.

Pests: Orchids occasionally have insect and disease problems. Mealy bugs, scales, and aphids can simply be washed off.

With a little luck, your orchid will flourish and add a touch of elegance to your home or garden!