UTV riding may seem similar in any part of the world. However, the environment in which it is performed differs in many ways. The sites and their organization are completely different from one country to another. There are several obvious reasons to explain these differences and it is interesting to go on the spot and see for yourself.
During a personal trip to the island of Oahu, Hawaii, it was important for me to know the enthusiasm of the local population for off-road activities. I was quickly destabilized by the paradise landscape from my first steps out of the Boeing 747 which took us from Chicago for an 8-hour flight. The constant sight of the palm trees and all day long damp heat has brought to light an environment completely different from my North American context to which I am accustomed.
Oahu is an American island located in Central Pacific. It is part of the Hawaiian archipelago and Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is located on this island. The city’s iconic landmarks include Chinatown Historic District, Punchbowl (a crater turned into a cemetery) and Waikiki, the iconic beach offering dining and nightlife options. Pearl Harbor, west of Honolulu, is a site not to be missed for the 1941 World War II air raid and the USS Arizona memorial.
The landscape is mountainous, irregular and allows many activities for all tastes. We had rented an apartment for the period of our stay in the most lively and convenient area for tourists – Waikiki. Even though we were right in the middle of the urban area, the many roads allowed easy access to the wild and less populated parts of the island within a 1-hour drive.
In this part of the world, there is no organized structure or club for off-road activities. We had to turn to private rental companies offering this service with a guide. After some research, we made the decision to contact what turns out to be the most famous establishment on the island – the Kualoa Ranch.
Located 45 minutes from our place of stay, Kualoa Ranch is a beautiful property dotted with breathtaking scenery unique in the world. An impressive list of films and TV shows has been shot in this picturesque region. The majestic cliffs and mountainsides of Kualoa, the lush greenery of the Ka’a’awa Valley, the ancient fish ponds on the south side of the property, the quintessential view of Chinaman’s Hat (Mokolo’i Island) ) are a picturesque backdrop for a day of fun and adventure. Kualoa Ranch is not just a ranch; it is a “club of activities” which proposes a day of fun adventures during the holidays.
Whether climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding and of course, ATV and UTV riding, the activities are organized to satisfy most outdoor enthusiasts. Several fixed-term packages are available on site and especially guided by friendly guides renowned in this region of the globe.
Our two guides during this day were undoubtedly dream guides. I must make a special mention to Paolo who had a destabilizing type of humor – he is able to keep his seriousness at a joke, but it is during his contagious laughter that we find that he has had us. Shawn was, on her side, a generous guide of her time and her wise advice to the less experienced participants of the group. Safety tips and introductory videos were essentially in English.
It should be mentioned that this activity is accessible to all, regardless of experience and level of skill. However, you must have a good dose of adventure running through your veins and not be afraid to get dirty with a little dust and mud. The group of about ten vehicles we were originally was split in two at a certain time because part of the group had bought a ride of 1 hour. For our part, we wanted to live the full experience and we took advantage of a 2-hour package. The Kawasaki Mule vehicles at our disposal were very suitable for riding in the Jurrasic Valley.
We have traveled the 1000 acres that make up the valley with several stops at mythical places where have been shot now legendary movie scenes and TV series like Jurassic Park, Jumanji, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, Hawaii 5-0, Lost, and many others. We took the necessary time to immortalize these special places and our guide took a great pleasure to share with us some movie shooting anecdotes. Several remains and constructions were left on the spot to testify their passages, to our greatest delight. We had fun saying that we have walked the same ground as some big stars like Elvis Presley, Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Tom Selleck, and so on. It is a privilege that probably will only be accessible to me once in my life and I took advantage of every moment.
Our guide Shawn volunteered on several occasions to take snapshots on our cameras to immortalize us in these places. She also had a nice surprise for the participants – she took care to bring a dinosaur puppet she transposed in the upper corner of the camera and we played the game by performing a short video simulating an attack of this prehistoric animal.
Beyond the recreational aspect, it is a rewarding cultural experience to practice an activity for which we have a particular affection in a foreign environment. The contact with other cultures opens our horizons and also allows us to appreciate once more, the popularity of off-road activity around the world.