Top movie locations in Hawaii
Dinosaurs, aliens and magical landscapes,
Natarsha Brown discovers the real Hawaii
behind the Hollywood hits.
Since Burt Lancaster and Deborah
Kerr rolled in the waves at Halona
Cove in Oahu in the Academy
Award-winning ‘From Here to
Eternity’ and Elvis swaggered onto
our screens in ‘Blue Hawaii’, Hollywood has
enjoyed a love affair with these fabled islands.
The perfect weather and otherworldly
landscapes are a director’s dream, so it comes
as no surprise that the Aloha State is a film
buff’s smorgasbord, and bringing your kid’s
big-screen fantasies to life with a location tour is
the best way to experience some movie magic!
It may come as a shock to some that ‘Lilo &
Stitch’ has been touted as the movie which
most accurately captures the spirit and culture
of Hawaii. The production team spent weeks in
this tropical paradise studying the geography,
architecture, vegetation, culture – even the way
the light falls from the sky from dusk until dawn!
Enraptured by the beauty of the islands,
co-directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
decided to use actual locations within the film
to portray a sense of Lilo’s endless summer.
And so Kauai became the Roswell of the
tropics and the inspiration behind the Disney
animation of the unlikely friendship between an
escaped alien, Experiment 626, and an
orphaned Hawaiian girl. The island is graced
with dramatic, natural beauty and a palpable
sense of ‘ohana (family), mana (spiritual
essence) and ‘aina (land).
Off-the-beaten track Hanapepe is Kauai’s
‘biggest little town’ and also Lilo’s hometown. A
quaint village of clapboard houses with tin
roofs, pre-World war II storefronts and wooden
sidewalks; the old buildings have been turned
into artists’ studios, charming shops and local
eateries. The eight-hour Waimea Canyon Experience
by Polynesian Adventure Tours
encompasses Hanapepe Valley and
Hanapepe Town (and the canyon itself is
described as the ‘Grand Canyon of Hawaii’!).
Don your coconuts for a visit to Aulani, A
Disney Resort & Spa at Ko Olina for the Starlit
Hui – an inspired dance, music and hula show.
Lilo and Stitch’s iconic hula dance took the
YouTube world by storm with a plethora of
reenactments, and the cutesy movie moment
never fails to stir up the warm and fuzzies! Kids
will delight in having their very own moment in
the spotlight at the end of the show, when they
are invited to join the troupe for a dance party
with friends Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Stitch.
Experience ‘ohana firsthand at a luau, a
cultural celebration of Hawaiian music, dance
and food. Germaine’s Luau, located on the
shores of West Oahu, is acclaimed as the best
on the islands. Greeted with a lei, a conch
announces the beginning of the evening’s
festivities, the main course of pig emerges from
the oven and the feast begins.
A journey of
dance and song unfolds around you, from the
Samoan Fire-Knife dance (eerily known as the
‘Tooth of Death’) to the graceful hula, leaving
you spellbound for the entire two hours.
Not just a walk in the park!
More than a decade ago, director Steven
Spielberg let our imaginations run wild the
promise of dinosaur clones in theme parks!
And while the dinosaurs are fictional, the
landscapes of Jurassic Park’s Isla Nubar are
very real, the other-worldly jungles, waterfalls
and mountain ranges just a hop, skip and a
jump away from Waikiki.
The legendary hilltop views that welcomed
palaeontologists Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant to
Jurassic Park are best approached from the air,
so buckle the kids up and hold on to your
seatbelts! Island Helicopters offer 80-minute
flights that soar above the sheer slopes of the
Kauai Na Pala Coast and – for the first time
ever – stop at the Manawaiopuna Falls on their
Jurassic Falls Tour.
The Kualoa Private Nature Reserve’s tagline
is ‘where legends are made’, and having been
the filming location for more than 50 movies and
TV shows, including Jurassic Park, the title is
well-deserved. Located on Oahu, just a 45 minute drive from Waikiki, the reserve is
managed by the sixth generation kama’aina
family, who also offer eco-tours throughout the
property for film fanatics. But remember... it’s
not only dinosaurs that have roamed these
Take the Movie Site Tour around the
Ka’a’awa Valley and take a selfie with the
infamous Jurassic Park Fallen Tree, compare
the size of your kids’ tiny tootsies to Godzilla’s,
watch out for pedestrians at ‘penguin road’ from
50 First Dates and beat your fists on Mighty Joe
Young’s stomping ground. If you’re lucky you
might even see the next big hit being filmed!