Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii: Finding a job on O’ahu

Working the Movie Site and Ranch Tour at Kualoa Ranch

When Veronica and I flew from Bali, Indonesia to Hawaii, USA we did so with no real plan.  We had no contacts in Hawaii, we had no job prospects and we had nowhere to stay.  I actually booked a hostel in Waikiki the day before we reluctantly departed from of Denpasar International.

Having no plans made for a rough first few weeks on O’ahu because it is really hard to find work there.  I had a short spell as a gardener and busking around Waikiki.  I had some epic surfs near Waianae and up on the North Shore.  Even though I had some epic adventures, life was difficult without a place to stay or a source of income.  Finally, I got a dream job at Kualoa, Ranch.

The job acquisition process at Kualoa has a few steps .  First you must go through an interview at the human resource department.  If they approve you, you are sent to your specific department manager for approval into the department.  Since I was shooting for a horseback gig, I had to display basic horsemanship skills like saddling, putting on a bridal, mounting without aid from anyone else and opening and closing gates without getting off the horse.  I passed these tests and was given the clearance to join the Kualoa team.  I was over the moon!

WWII Bunker at Kualoa Ranch

After being hired, you go through a two days introduction to the Kualoa Brand.  As a history nut I loved it.  You learn about the ownership of the ranch and it’s place on O’ahu.  They also go over a basic overview of Hawaiian words and the old ahu’pu’a’a system.  They also go through a lot of safety and liability stuff.  These are two unpaid days, but they are worth sticking it out.  It’s good to learn these things before you get to work because it creates cohesion across all the departments.

Once those two classroom days have passed, the trainee spends a day touring around the ranch as a secret shopper.  This is awesome.  It’s like you get a whole day at Kualoa Ranch to just enjoy yourself and see what the customers get to enjoy.

We took the jeep tour through the jungle in a Swiss Pinzgauer.

Kualoa Ranch Trucks

The second tour was the “Movie Site Tour” which is absolutely spectacular.  You load onto an old school bus and drive through the Ka’a’awa valley.  This is where Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, Big Joe Young and a host of other awesome movies were filmed.

Kualoa Ranch Trucks2After the movie site tour Kualoa provides a really tasty Hawaiian lunch of BBQ ribs, pineapple and a salad bar.  Afterwards we went on a quad ride through the forest and up onto the ridgeline headed north.

Finally, for the last part of the day, we went on a short horseback tour the other direction, into the Hakipu’u valley.  Of course I loved this.  Best of all, this was to become my new part time job for the next 5 months.

I am really grateful to Kualoa Ranch for providing a horseback trail guide position.  Kualoa Ranch is magical and it’s so great that they provide a sort of insulation from town to the country.  Big mahalo to the royal Kualoa family (Judd to the Morgan) for keeping it country.  The horseback manager is such a great lady to work for.  She is caring and loves horses as much as anyone could love horses.  Also, to all my co-workers while I was there: sorry I had to leave so abruptly.  I would have stayed if I had the option.

If your headed to O’ahu any time soon, go ride horses at Kualoa Ranch.  This is the safest horse riding for beginners I have ever encountered.  They have a very concrete system worked out with the horses.  The tour crosses through some of the most beautiful land the world has to offer and you might get some treats along the way (strawberry guava, acerola cherries or papaya.)  The guides are all given a solid background of history of the area.  You will find lots of Aloha at Kualoa.  🙂

Aloha.

6 Replies to “Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii: Finding a job on O’ahu”

  1. Really? How much if you don’t mind me asking, trying to get an idea of whether or not it will be enough to pay the bills :). Was it based on commission/tips or is there an hourly wage.

    1. I rarely made tips out there. Everyone loved the trips however many of your guests are Japanese, Australians and Europeans who have no idea about tipping. You get paid hourly by the ranch. 🙂

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