Travel insights from Taylor Coulson, contributing editor of The Compass

Hawaii is for Movie Lovers

The islands of Hawaii are a hot spot for movie fanatics and producers as much as it is a paradise for bike, history and food lovers. Say aloha to these (motion) picture-perfect places on Oahu where some of the biggest blockbusters and TV shows were filmed.

1. Kualoa Ranch

Along Oahu’s windward coast you’ll discover Kualoa Ranch, a family-owned cattle ranch and nature reserve that encompasses almost 4,000-acres and is only about 30 minutes from Honolulu Airport (HNL). It’s dubbed “Hollywood’s go-to backlot” because many famous movies have been filmed there. Its backdrop of lush jungles, green mountains, soaring waterfalls and cliffs make it easy to feel like you’re in a movie itself. Take the Hollywood Movie Sites Tour by foot, ATV or horseback to see iconic movie scenes and sets below, IRL.

  • “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” – Soar above the Ka’a’awa Valley, aka Jurassic Valley, on the Jurassic Valley Zipline tour. You’ll get to see raptor trainer Owen Grady’s (Chris Pratt) rundown bungalow and the original site where the Gallimimus stampede took place.
  • “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Jumanji: The Next Level” – Brave the same unknown and unmapped land that Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black), Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and Jefferson McDonough (Nick Jonas) escaped from twice now.
  • “50 First Dates” – See where Henry (Adam Sandler) and Lucy (Drew Barymore) met time after time at the Hukilau Café.

2. Turtle Bay Resort

Only 45 minutes away from Honolulu and Waikiki you’ll find nearly five miles of beachfront surrounding the only destination resort on Oahu’s North Shore, Turtle Bay Resort. National Geographic describes it as being “one of the wonders of the world – one of the planet’s most awesome places.” We think so too, especially during action, family and comedy TV and movie moments filmed here like these.

  • “Soul Surfer” – Travel to the exact bay that transformed from Turtle Bay into Phuket, Thailand where Kauai surfer Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) decided to surf competitively again after a tragic shark attack.
  • “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – This rom-com’s entire plot mostly revolves around this resort. Peter Bretter (Jason Siegel) takes a Hawaiian vacation after a break up and ironically bumps into his ex-girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) staying at the same place with her new lover.
  • “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” – Bring your bow and arrow and may the odds forever be in your favor as you stand along Kawela Bay’s shore, where Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) appeared atop the saltwater lake ready to battle in the Quarter Quell, the 75th Hunger Games competition. Most of the sequel was filmed on the U.S. mainland but when Waimea Valley transformed into Panem, cast members stayed here since it’s just 30 minutes away from the valley.

3. Byodo-In Temple

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Nestled at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Oahu’s Kaneohe region, you’ll be up-close-and-personal with the beautiful Byodo-In Temple. Here, in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, one of Hawaii’s best parks to visit is a replica of the almost 10,000-year-old Byodo-In Temple in Kyoto, Japan’s southern outskirts. It was built in the 1960s to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigrant workers’ arrivals. This peaceful non-practicing Buddhist temple maintains its warm, welcoming ambience with a large reflecting pond, meditation niches and tiny waterfalls. Hawaii is the stand-in destination for any place in the world, especially during these memorable TV show scenes filmed here.

  • “Lost” – Cross the wooden bridge where Sun and Jin got engaged in what is supposed to be Sun’s father’s home during a business party, somewhere in South Korea.
  • “Hawaii Five-O” – Visit the temple that Kono and Adam went to the night before Adam went away.

Have you visited any other interesting filming locations across Hawaii? Let us know in the comments below!

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