Ancient Hawaiians considered Kualoa one of the most sacred places on the island of Oʻahu. It was the residence of kings, a place of refuge and sanctuary – a puʻuhonua – and a training ground for royalty who were instructed at Kualoa in the arts of war, history and social traditions.
In 1850, King Kamehameha III sold approximately 622 acres of land in Kualoa to Dr. Gerritt P. Judd. Dr. Judd had previously been a missionary doctor who arrived in Hawaiʻi in 1828 and who served as personal advisor to King Kamehameha III.
The initial land sale included much prime ranch land and all fishing rights including Mokoliʻi, the small island just offshore the Ranch now known as “Chinaman’s Hat.”
Later, additional acreage in the Hakipuʻu and Kaʻaʻawa valleys were purchased by Dr. Judd’s son Charles Hasting Judd from the Queen Kalama’s land holdings. This purchase increased the size of the estate to the 4,000 acres it is today and is now under the Morgan Family name, who are Dr. Judd’s descendants.
Kualoa Ranch was so named in 1927 and has been used for various purposes over the last eight decades. Kualoa which means “long back” in Hawaiian describes the Ranch’s beautiful valleys and mountain peaks.
In the early days of Kualoa, the beachfront extended out much further than today, there were very few homes along the beach and the pastures were sparse with trees.
The highest peak atop the Kualoa ridge tops off at 1,900 feet and is called Kānehoalani which means “Kāne’s heavenly companion.”
Between 1863 – 1870, the Kualoa Sugar Mill was built and operated by Charles H. Judd and Samuel G. Wilder until the mill was closed after years of meager rainfall that effectively brought an end to sugar farming here.
During World War II, the US Military operated an auxiliary airstrip at Kualoa with many of the large monkeypod trees providing natural hangars for small planes.
Today, Kualoa is owned and cared for by the Morgan Family who strive to be role model stewards of the ‘āina (land), by preserving and protecting for future generations and saving it from development. All visitors to Kualoa Ranch & Private Nature Reserve contribute to this goal by their support. Kualoa currently employs over 300 local residents in several fields. In addition to tour guides, Kualoa employs ranchers, cowboys, fisherman and farmers that support it’s livestock, agriculture and aquaculture divisions. Kualoa is also working cattle ranch with over 600 head of cattle, 120 horses, 200 sheep, over 100,000 oysters as well as shrimp, fish, vegetables, fruits and herbs.