Posted by: Jerry Garrett | December 4, 2011

Where Was George Clooney’s Kauai Ranch in “The Descendants” ?

This is a private ranch on Kauai's south side. Look familiar? (Fodors)

LIHUE, Kauai, Hawaii

The most-frequently asked question about the George Clooney movie, “The Descendants“?

Eureka! This is how Kipu Ranch looks on Google Earth. About 10 miles south of Lihue airport.

Where was that huge tract of land – that unspoiled paradise – the King family supposedly owned?

It’s an actual private ranch on Kauai’s southeast shore. It’s about 10 miles south of Kauai’s airport at Lihue & adjacent to the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge.

Locals know it as either Lihue Plantation or Kipu Ranch. Or is it Kipu Plantation and Lihue Ranch? Many variations are used.

The ranch has a history with faint echoes of the movie estate. It was owned by Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani, a member of Hawaii’s Kamehameha royal family. She did marry a haole (the Hawaii term for whites); actually she married two of them, since her first husband died of measles soon after they were wed.

But there, the true story and the movie script diverge. The princess sold the ranch to Lihue’s governor, William Hyde Rice, in 1872.  The ranch really was huge – more than 5,000 acres. Today it is still a working cattle ranch and dairy – just as it was when Rice ran it – but it’s been whittled down to about 3,000 acres.

Map showing the boundaries and locations of Kipu Ranch (Kipu Tours)

The ranch is now open to visitors – yes, you can camp there, as the movie’s script mentions – and it bills itself as Hawaii’s top ATV tour destination. The highlight of the ATV tour is a stop at the same overlook seen in the movie.

The ATV tour company’s brochure says it is “a five-minute drive from Nawiliwili Harbor for Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ship travelers looking for a shore excursion.”

Sounds like the cousins are winning.

Jerry Garrett

December 4, 2011

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Responses

  1. [...] that Mr. Clooney’s character is so conflicted about in the movie, actually is? Check out a separate column I’ve written, in which I set to find that chunk of [...]

  2. There are some factual similarities implied the the movie The Decendents.

    The Kipu area includes a wonderful waterfall and most importantly is part of the Grove Farm Property which was controvertially sold to Steve Case of AOL in 2001 for $26M. After stockholders challenged the sale, it was allowed by the courts.

    http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Dec/12/bz/FP512120307.html

    There are only two significant undeveloped parcels on the south coast of Kauai both owned by Grove Farm. Kipu and adjacent Maha’ulepu which are considered sacred treasures by the native Hawaiians. There is an organization in Kauai to preserve these lands from unbridled development. For more information:

    http://malama-mahaulepu.org/

    Hawaii motto:

    Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono
    The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness

    Janice Schofield Walsh
    Poipu, Kauai

    • What great information! Thanks so much for taking the time to enlighten us. We just returned from several days on the island, and think “we should see the movie again”. We would probably see it with new eyes!

  3. Kipu Kai is ‘owned’ by the Waterhouse Trust administered by First Hawaiian Bank, not Grove Farm to revert to the State. Kipu Ranch is still in the Rice family name, again, not Grove Farm.

  4. Hi Jerry. I handle public relations for the Kauai Visitors Bureau and we are interested in the Kipu Kai shot you used for the entry about the Descendants movie. Do you have a contact, we are willing to buy this shot to use for editorial use. Mahalo!

    • Emele – You certainly have my permission to use the unique image I have created for this blog, at no cost. Thanks for asking!

      • Wow, mahalo! Just to confirm, the first photo on the blog post of kipu Kai taken from the overlook is your image? Just checking because it says fodors on there. Aloha!

  5. Two books to read: Growing up Barefoot in Hawai’i by Peggy Hickok Hodge; and Haoles in Hawai’i by Judy Rohrer

    • Thank you! Excellent suggestions!

  6. [...] saw the Decendants in December and marveled, along with every one else, at the King property.  Things started to seem familiar.  Baldwin Locomotive Works produced hundreds of locomotives for [...]

  7. [...] Where Was George Clooney’s Kauai Ranch in “The Descendants” ? [...]

  8. […] It’s an actual private ranch on Kauai’s southeast shore. It’s about 10 miles south of Kauai’s airport at Lihue & adjacent to the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge. Locals know it as either Lihue Plantation or Kipu Ranch. Or is it Kipu Plantation and Lihue Ranch? Many variations are used. Where Was George Clooney’s Kauai Ranch in “The Descendants” ? | Garrett On The Roa… […]

  9. whatever you guys say, there are hundreds of families around the world that have these issues. George Clooney played it like the great actor he is. He knows how to convey the perspective of having that much money and only use it for what you need and not what you want. I grew up with a family like that in the Midwest of America. I’m thankful to have had that experience and memories.


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