Tour the Food Offerings at Kualoa Ranch
Get O‘ahu-raised beef, oysters and more at this historic ranch on the Windward Side.
Two years ago, Kualoa Ranch started growing oysters in the 800-year-old Mōliʻi Fishpond by the ocean. Oysters are just one of several food products for sale that are grown, farmed and raised here.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
Kualoa Ranch is two things to me: the place where I rode my first horse and the site of Kōkua Festival.
I had never been there to eat.
Recently, though, I met up with Taylor Kellerman, the new manager of livestock and diversified agriculture at Kualoa Ranch, to find out more about what’s grown—and sold—at this 4,000-acre ranch in Ka‘a‘awa.
Turns out, the ranch will be launching a new farm-to-table immersion tour on April 18 for people who are curious—like me—about its offerings.
Some background: Established in 1850, Kualoa Ranch is both a private nature reserve and working cattle ranch with more than 500 heads of cattle. It’s owned and managed by the sixth-generation descendants of Dr. Gerritt P. Judd, a missionary doctor who arrived in Hawai‘i in 1828. He purchased 622 acres of land here—including the small offshore island Mokoli‘i (commonly known as Chinaman’s Hat)—from King Kamehameha III, for whom Judd served as a personal adviser, in 1850.
The ranch sprawls over 4,000 acres, from the back of lush Ka‘a‘awa Valley to the 800-year-old Mōliʻi Fishpond by the ocean.
The ranch continues to produce cattle, recently shifting from a cow-calf operation, which sent its young beef cattle to the Mainland for finishing, to raising the cattle entirely here. The cattle are all born and raised here, grass-fed and processed entirely on island. The ranch sells various cuts in its visitor center, from filet mignon ($14.99 per pound) to short ribs ($5.99 per pound) to ground beef ($5 per pound).
The beef is also used in the hamburgers at Aunty Pat’s Paniolo Café, also in the visitor center.
The ranch sells various cuts in its visitor center, from filet mignon ($14.99 per pound) to short ribs ($5.99 per pound).
The beef is also used in the hamburgers at Aunty Pat’s Paniolo Café, located in the visitor center.
Two years ago, Kualoa Ranch started selling oysters grown in its 153-acre, ancient Hawaiian fishpond, marking the first time locally farmed oysters were for sale in Hawai‘i. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with requests pouring in from local restaurants and oyster connoisseurs. Its next crop, available now, comprises roughly 100,000 oysters. These are sold live for $15 for a dozen.
SEE ALSO: Oysters from Kualoa Ranch
White shrimp and tilapia are also grown here, mostly in earthen ponds. Shrimp is sold frozen at $12 a pound.
The visitor center also sells fresh eggs, tropical flowers and produce such as papaya and apple bananas, all grown at the ranch.
Kellerman took us along the new tour route, starting at the ranch house and shrimp and tilapia ponds. Here, guests will learn the Hawaiian art of throwing nets to catch fish. Then we drove through groves of mango, cacao, guava and starfruit trees; past a section of canoe plants such as ‘ulu (breadfruit), noni and kalo; along rows of sugarcane and pineapple; past an orchard of coffee trees; and through an area dedicated to tropical flowers such as heliconia, ginger and anthuriums.
There are several varieties of Hawaiian sugar cane growing at the ranch.
We visited Mōliʻi Fishpond, too, another stop on tour. This fishpond, with much of its original stonewall infrastructure in place, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here, we stopped to watch workers harvest oysters, which are raised in baskets. Guests will be shuck fresh oysters and learn about modern fishpond operations.
“Our oysters don’t have a mud taste because they’re not raised in mud,” Kellerman says.
The third stop is at the Ka‘a‘awa Ag Center, where guests will learn about roping and branding cattle and try grass-fed beef. The goal is to expose more people to everything going on at Kualoa Ranch. Because there’s more than ATV rides and concerts here.
“We want to show people what we’re doing here,” Kellerman says.
To learn more or to buy O‘ahu-raised beef, oysters or shrimp, visit kualoa.com, or stop by the visitor center at 49-560 Kamehameha Highway in Ka‘a‘awa. 748-3209