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Places On Oahu: Kualoa Regional Park

Basic Information

  • Name: Kualoa Regional Park
  • Where: Windward Coast, Oahu
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: 7AM-8PM daily
  • More Information: Ancient Sites of Oahu

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

Narrative

On the Windward Coast of Oahu Kualoa Regional Park is a location that most tourists stop at to take pictures of the surrounding scenery before driving away to their next destination on this scenic part of Oahu.  The park is located just before one of the major tourist attractions on the island, Kualoa Ranch which is famous for all the movies that have been filmed there:

For local residents like my family and I, Kualoa Regional Park is ironically a beach we go to, to get away from all the tourists that flock to other beaches on Oahu.  This is because despite all the tourists stopping to take pictures here, few actually stay.  This leaves the park’s wide open green spaces rarely crowded:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

The large green space is also where people can camp with a permit and enjoy ocean views such as this:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

From the green space the park has an amazing view of Pu’u Kanehoalani which is one of the most dramatic mountain landscapes on Oahu:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

According to the book, Ancient Sites of Oahu Kualoa is Hawaiian for “long back” which refers to Pu’u Kanehoalani as being the backbone of Oahu and thus considered sacred.  To add to the sacredness the name Pu’u Kanehoalani is named in honor of the father of Hawaii’s goddess of fire Pele.  His name was Kane.  Another native Hawaiian legend states that a half man, half pig demigod once lived here named Kamapua‘a.

This sacredness made Kualoa one of the areas of Oahu where people could find refuge at a “heiau” temple from their enemies.  The sacredness also meant that many royals decided to live here as well.  The mixture of royalty and a heiau meant that sacrifices to the Gods were often made here.  What the priests did was drown their victims along the shore and left them floating in the seaweed.  That is definitely a depressing image to have in mind when visiting this beach.

When Kamehameha the Great conquered Oahu it is said that he used to lower his sails as his canoe passed Kualoa in honor of how sacred the site was.  In modern day Hawaii, the voyaging canoe Hokule’a completed its non-instrumental voyage around the Pacific in 1987 here at Kualoa as well.

Incredibly the Kualoa Ranch owns the entire mountain and surrounding land.  For people who have seen movies like “Jurassic Park” and series such as “Lost” then this mountain should seem very familiar since it was often filmed.

Another amazing view from the park is of the islet of Mokoli’i which is Hawaiian for “little lizard”:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

This name comes from the sister of Pele, who’s name was Hi‘iaka.  At Kualoa Hi’iaka killed a huge mo‘o or lizard and its tail is all that was left of it and it formed Mokoli‘i.  Interestingly this is the second location I have been to with a legend associated to Hi’iaka, she also had a run in with a mo’o at Na Pohaku o Hauwahine Trail outside of Kailua.

Here is a picture of the lizard’s tail:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

Due to its shape few people know the islet by its Hawaiian name and instead call it “Chinaman’s Hat” since it looked like a hat early Chinese plantation workers would wear:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

The beach at Kualoa Regional Park is not the best because the sand near the shore is a bit rocky and there is a small drop off to the ocean:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

When I visit with my kids, we walk over to the south side of the beach where few people go:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

There are still some rocks and shells on this side of the beach, but overall the sand and waves is much better for kids to play in:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

Here is a picture of my kids having fun playing in the water and checking out shells:

Picture from Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu

Conclusion

The Kualoa Regional Park has some of the best views on Oahu. It is well worth stopping to take pictures of the incredible cliffs and the small islet of Chinaman’s Hat.  The beach is not the best on Oahu, but still a great place to take kids to and relax.

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