LIHUE, Kauai, Hawaii
The most-frequently asked question about the George Clooney movie, “The Descendants“?
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.
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.
December 4, 2011