Ohau’s Gunstock Ranch Ecotourism Experience

According to the United Nations aviation division, carbon emissions from air travel are on track to triple by 2050 if no action is taken. Travelers are becoming more aware of this and are seeking experiences to be good citizens of the world.

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Hilton Hotels in Hawaii offer a list of ecotourism activities to help guests give back to the islands. Many are located at farms and ranches located about one hour from Waikiki Beach.

Charley’s Taxi Charter drives guests through the center of the third largest Hawaiian Island, to to see a more exotic and natural environment to the Hawaiian Legacy Forest at Gunstock Ranch.

Visitors have the opportunity to walk the footsteps of Hawaiian royalty and support the island’s conservation efforts. This 600 acres working cattle ranch is located at the base of the majestic Ko’olau Mountains. This is birds sing, the wind whispers, and the earth thrives.

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When the owners purchased this land years ago, they discovered only four native plants on the property. To help support their efforts to reforest their land with native plants, the ranch offers family-friendly opportunities including horseback rides, off-road experiences, walking and hiking tours to some of the most spectacular ocean views on the windward side of O‘ahu. Gunstock Ranch guests can be a part of Hawai‘i’s history by planting a Legacy Tree in O‘ahu’s first Hawaiian Legacy Forest. The Milo tree was a favorite to the great warrior, diplomat and leader King Kamehameha. It’s dense wood was used for bowls and carving a canoe. Not only do these trees grow tall fast, but they produce a heart shaped leaf.

Along the drive are signs with corporate sponsors including All Nippon Airways (ANA). According to Ty, one of the ranch handlers, ANA has donated one million dollars to plant Milo trees. “They are committed to reduce global warming and build a sustainable society. In return they earn carbon credits from the Hawaiian government.”

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I learned ANA planted 520 legacy trees in Kahuku to represent the number of seats on board a plane that flies to Oahu. For almost two years, Gunstock Ranch has planted a 3,000 saplings to offset the carbon of a family of four, and is filling the earth with light and warmth.

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Personally planting a milo tree is a special ceremony. Not only do guests get a choice of small saplings, but also the location of where to have their tree grow. Ranch handlers provide nutritious potting soil and water for the tree dedication. The tree is uniquely paired to each person through GPS technology, allowing visitors to monitor it’s growth on a return visit.

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Next time you visit Oahu, visit Gunstock Ranch and learn how this cattle ranch is providing an important way to improve the health of Oahu and, on a small scale, the health of the whole planet, with the King’s tree offsetting carbon pollution throughout its life. 

This review is featured in Luxe Beat Magazine 

Visiting Oahu’s Hollywood Movie Set – Kualoa Ranch

A memorable Hawaiian ecotourism experience is exploring East Oahu’s movie and television sets at Kualoa Ranch.

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IMG_6089Designated a US Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places since the 1970’s, Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve is owned and managed by the eighth-generation descendants of Dr. Gerritt P. Judd.

Located about 24 miles from Honolulu, the ranch consists of three valleys: Kaʻaʻawa Valley, Kualoa Valley, and Hakipuʻu Valley. Besides raising cattle and fresh saltwater shrimp on property, Kualoa Ranch enriches people’s lives by preserving Kualoa’s sacred lands and celebrating its history.

Established in 1850, some of Kualoa’s 4000 acres are open to locals, tourists and movie IMG_6056studios with a goal to protect and enhance the natural beauty, while developing sustainable recreational, agricultural and aqua cultural enterprises that are compatible with the environment.

More than 79 movies and TV shows have been filmed at Kualoa over the years. Visitors can ride horseback or drive an Ultra Terrain Vehicle on a guide led tour of the Kualoa Private Nature Reserve.  The one-hour tour traverses over a saddle trail to multiple movie sites with props located along the journey for photo opportunities on the Ranch’s beautiful 1,000-acre Ka‘a‘awa “Jurassic” Valley.

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Some of Hollywood’s “Hawaii Backlot,” props from movies and television shows filmed on the ranch include infamous Jurassic Park fallen tree, Godzilla’s footprints, and the famous “penguin” road site from 50 First Dates. See the house structure and replica of Mighty Joe Young from the movie. There are numerous Hawaii Five-0 and LOST areas, including Hurley’s golf course. Other photo opportunity stops include a WWII army bunker built entirely into the side of the mountain range.

You will recognize scenes from Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, 50 First Dates, Hawaii Five-0, Mighty Joe Young, Pearl IMG_6117Harbor, Kong: Skull Island, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

All tours and commercial activities enable Kualoa to keep the lands undeveloped so that future generations will be able to enjoy them as well.  They truly care about and strive to educate all visitors to the third largest Hawaiian Island.

This review was also featured in Just Luxe .