Hawaii’s lush treetops, historic volcanoes, and stunning views have drawn hundreds of filmmakers to the islands over the last century. From adventure and thrillers to rom-coms and arthouse films, Hawaii has become a character itself. We pick some of the most iconic movies to have been shot on the islands—add them to your list before booking your next getaway.
50 First Dates (2004) – This romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler was filmed almost entirely on the island of Oahu. Remember the Sea Park that Henry worked at? That was filmed at Sea Life Park in Waimanalo, Oahu. Plan a day to visit all of these beautiful locations around Oahu where the movie was filmed: Kane’ohe Bay, Waimanalo, Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii Film Studio, Ka’a’awa, Waikane Pier, and Waimea.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) – Based at Turtle Bay Resort on the shores of Oahu, Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, and Mila Kunis star in the classic romantic comedy following a newly single man as he escapes to Hawaii to recover from his breakup, but unexpectedly runs into his ex and her new boyfriend along the way.
Pearl Harbor (2001) – The romantic fictional tale tells the story of two young Army Air Corp Pilots during WWII and the tragedy of the famous air raid we know as “Pearl Harbor.” The attack occurred on Ford Island, off the coast of Oahu, and was recreated here for scenes in the film. Take a Pearl Harbor Tour on your next visit to Hawaii for a glimpse into how the island of Oahu and the United States were affected by the attack on December 7, 1941.
Godzilla (2014) – The newest Godzilla movie – as well as those that came before it – was shot largely on Oahu, around Waikiki. Hundreds of Hawaiians were cast as extras to shoot catastrophe scenes. You can even find some of Godzilla’s “footprints” in Ka’a’wa Valley, a filming location often dubbed Hollywoods “Hawaii Backlot.”
Tropic Thunder (2007) – Ben Stiller directed, produced, co-wrote, and stared alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black in this satirical comedy credited to being the largest film produced on the island of Kauai. Stiller spent more than 25 hours scoping out places on the island where each scene would be shot to make sure he found the perfect location. Head over to Wailua Falls for a day of swimming and exploring or relax on Kauai Sands Beach to experience two of the most-used filming locations.
Avatar (2009) – The multi-award winning cinemograph known for its outstanding visual effects follows a crippled war veteran after he wakes up on a mysterious blue planet, similar to Jupiter. Hawaii’s abundant natural life made for the perfect background for this unique, rainforest world and was used for several scenes, both along the Hamakua Coast and in the rainforests of Kaua’i.
Jurassic World (2015) – A sequel to Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is a revamped, much larger theme park, complete with a genetically modified giant dinosaur. Fourteen of the twenty-three filming locations took place in Hawaii; some of the most notable locations include Kauloa Ranch, which posed as Dinosaur Land, Jurassic Kahili Ranch for many outdoor scenes, Manoa Falls for the waterfall jump, and The Honolulu Zoo for the park exhibits.
South Pacific (1958) – Based on the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific was filmed on the North Shore of Kauai in historic Hanalei Bay. Set in 1943, the film follows U.S. Navy nurse Nellie Forbush, who falls in love with Emile De Becque, a controversial French plantation owner who’s being tapped for a military mission.
Kauai & Oahu
Soul Surfer (2011) – An inspirational true story about Hawaiian native Bethany Hamilton and her incredible recovery after a shark attack that left her armless, the film follows Hamilton’s journey to become a professional surfer despite her injury and is filmed on both Kauai and Oahu.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) – Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbarossa embark on a thrilling journey to find the fountain of youth, with one or two setbacks along the way. Lucky for us, the Fountain of Youth is in Kauai at Kilauea Falls. Check out Kalalau Valley, Waikapala’e Wet Cave, Honopu Beach, and Turtle Bay for more locations from the film.
Jurassic Park (1993) – Aside from scenes shot in studio, the iconic adventure movie directed by one of the most talented filmmakers in the industry, Steven Spielberg, was filmed almost entirely on the smallest Hawaiian island, Kauai. Like Jurassic World, the cast and crew shot at Kauloa Ranch and Jurassic Kahili Ranch, as well as Manawaiopuna Falls, Olokele Valley, and Lawai.
Ready to experience Hawaii’s stunning backdrops for yourself? Book your next Hawaiian getaway–or ANY vacation–with AllTheRooms, and a portion of your booking will support the work of the Whaleman Foundation.
Plus, you can enter to win an exclusive whale watching trip with Adrian Grenier and the Whaleman Foundation.