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 Hawaiian royalty who were instructed in the arts of war, history and social traditions.
In 1850, King Kamehameha III (Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa) sold approximately 622 acres of land at 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 and translated medical journals into the Hawaiian language.
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 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. The mill was closed after years of meager rainfall that effectively brought an end to sugar farming at Kualoa.
During World War II, the United States Military operated an auxiliary Army 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 sixth generation descendants of Dr. Judd, the Morgan Family. Its president is John Morgan, and the ranch strives to be role model and stewards of the ‘āina (land), by preserving and protecting it from development.