From the moment ocean liners could carry film crews across the Pacific from the nearest harbor in Hollywood, Oahu has been featured in blockbuster movies and popular TV shows. Over the decades the island has dazzled cinema goers and sofa surfers, with celluloid driving more tourism that any Expedia ad or Fodor review. As a fan of feature films you want to take advantage of your stay to visit well known filming locations. At the same time, you don’t want to just show up at a spot, snap a pic, and go on about your business. You want to visit spots that also offer an engaging experience beyond the fact that it once was walked-on by Goldblum, Affleck, or Sandler. Below is an up-to-date breakdown of the most enjoyable movie and film locations on the island.
Top 5 TV and Hollywood Movie Locations on Oahu that Are Actually Enjoyable to Visit
Kualoa Ranch valley filling in for Easter Island (image: @marcus_ocean)
There is no location on Oahu with more IMDB credits that Kualoa Ranch. The protected (but permissible to visit) valley has served as a natural film set for iconic movies such as Jurassic Park and Kong: Skull Island along with popular TV shows like LOST. More recently (2020-21) Kualoa Ranch played a major role in the celebrated Netflix film Finding Ohana. The list goes on and on, but the notables include the following:
- 50 First Dates (2004)
- Finding Oahu (2020)
- Godzilla (2000)
- Hawaii Five-0 Original (1968-1980)
- Hawaii Five-0 New (2010-2020)
- Journey to the Center of the Earth 1 &2 (2008, 2012)
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2018)
- Jurassic Park franchise (beginning 1993)
- Karate Kid II (1986)
- Kong: Skull Island (2017)
- LOST (2004-10)
- Magnum P.I. Original (1980-1988)
- Magnum P.I. New (2019-present)
- Pearl Harbor (2001)
- Tears of the Sun (2003)
What’s great about Kualoa Ranch, is that they have left a number of props and constructs from prior films in place throughout the valley, including a tree stump from Jurassic Park, a giant gorilla skull from Kong (pictured above), a massive footprint from Godzilla, and more. There is always a movie or TV show in-production at Kualoa Ranch, making it the most currently relevant of the island’s film locations.
Beyond movie tours this destination also features other engaging guided activities that you can enjoy by vehicle, bike, ATV, and horseback. View more on Kualoa Ranch to plan your visit.
From Here to Eternity Beach
Technically known as Halona Cove, the beach gets its more affectionate name because a famous kiss scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the movie From Here To Eternity (1953). That saltwater flavored kiss went down right here. Keep in mind that the black-and-white film doesn’t do this particular location justice, because when you show up and see the azure sea, wave battered cliffs, and golden sands you’ll be swept off your feet like Lancaster and Kerr. View more about From Here to Eternity Beach to plan your visit.
Waimea Bay and Valley
Gary Busey and crew (Big Wednesday movie poster)
Here’s what we like about naming Waimea Bay when it comes to the numerous film locations on Oahu. While not blockbusters, some of the biggest Hollywood films about surfing have taken place at the bay, namely Big Wednesday (1978) and North Shore (1983). Since you’re a film buff, you may appreciate an anecdote about Big Wednesday. Director John Milius was good friends with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and they all agreed to share a percentage point from Big Wednesday, Star Wars (Lucas), and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg) before all three films were released. Big Wednesday flopped at the box office, while the other films went on to make history. We’re sure that Milius is still living off of the proceeds of that handshake deal. While here, adventurous souls can GoPro their own antics with a plunge off of the bay’s famed Jump Rock.
The backdrop behind Waimea Bay also serves as a backdrop to Hollywood films and TV shows. The lush Waimea Valley has been and continues to be featured in front of the camera, with credits that include LOST, Tom Hank’s Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), and Owen Wilson / Morgan Freeman’s The Big Bounce (2004) which also set-up nearby at Ke Iki Beach Bungalows. View more about Waimea Valley to plan your visit.
Turtle Bay Resort
There have been more than a few films set within and on the grounds of Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore. A couple of the most popular are of the R-rated RomCom variety, but there are a few blockbusters that the kids may recognize too. Below are some of the more notable films with scenes filmed at Turtle Bay:
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
- Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
- Jumanji II (2019)
- Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
You don’t have to stay at Turtle Bay to wander around property and check out famous movie sets. Anyone is free to enjoy the beachfront eateries, golf course, popular snorkeling beach, horseback trails, and much more. Check out Turtle Bay Resort to plan your visit.
La Mariana Sailing Club
We were just as skeptical as you when it came to the Magnum P.I. reboot, but Jay Hernandez and the rest of the cast are doing the character and aina proud. As of the second season Rick (played by Zachary Knighton) and T.C. (played by Stephen Hill) are proud owners of La Mariana Sailing Club, and nearly every episode begins and/or ends with the gang sharing libations at the bar. La Mariana is indeed a real watering hole of the same name, and it just so happens that it’s one of the best tiki bars in the world. Not only will you be able to snap plenty of photos to immortalize your experience in this vibrant film location, you can enjoy some of the island’s best cocktails in authentic tiki mugs that you can take home when done. View more on La Mariana Sailing Club in Honolulu to plan your visit.
Stay tuned as we update this list with each passing year as new film productions make their way into Oahu’s more engaging destinations.