15 Movies Filmed In Hawaii


These 15 Movies Filmed In Hawaii Will Make You Want To Visit ASAP

Hawaii’s dramatic landscape and radiant beaches attract more than just mai-tai-sipping vacationers. Since the birth of film, respected directors have repeatedly chosen Hawaii as a filming location. No surprise there— Hawaii is a place that ignites the imagination, and the islands’ scenic beauty elevates any movie plot. Out of the 100-plus movies filmed in the islands, here are fifteen of our all-time favorites. From offbeat comedies to famous Blockbuster franchises, these flicks are sure to get you pumped about visiting Hawaii.


1. Jurassic Park & Jurassic World – 1993, 2015

The Jurassic franchise is perhaps the most iconic film series shot in Hawaii. When Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it instantly transformed unassuming locations around the state into must-see landmarks, like Keopuka Rock on Maui. Keopuka Rock— which visitors can glimpse from the Garden of Eden on the Road to Hana— is shown during the opening scene of Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park movie locations

However, the most recognizable Jurassic filming location is Kualoa Ranch on the windward side of Oahu. Some of the most memorable scenes in the original film— like the gallimimus flocking scene— were filmed in the heart of Kualoa Valley. Plus, a good chunk of Jurassic World was shot at Kualoa Ranch as well. The ranch has become so synonymous with the Jurassic franchise that Kualoa’s Jurassic Park Adventure tours often sell out weeks in advance. 


2. The Descendants – 2011

Based on a novel by Hawaii-born author Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants chronicles the story of Matt King (George Clooney). While Matt struggles with raising his two daughters after his wife suffers a soon-to-be-fatal brain injury, he learns of his wife’s past marital affair. At the same time, Matt— a multi-generational Hawaii resident— is facing mounting pressure to sell his family’s 25,000 acres of undeveloped land on Kauai. While The Descendants is a fictional story, the plot highlights a common problem experienced by Native Hawaiians and multi-generational families in Hawaii: sell your land or lose it.

George Clooney Descendants

The Descendants takes place on Oahu and Kauai. The movie was filmed in various locations between the two islands, including Waikiki, Hanalei Bay, Queens Medical Center, Kauai’s Tahiti Nui Bar, and Oahu’s Nuuanu neighborhood. The film won the Academy Award for “Best Writing” in 2012.


3. Pearl Harbor – 2001

Which Hawaiian Island To Visit Pearl Harbor

This 2001 drama stars A-list actors like Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Garner, and Kate Beckinsale. Most of the film is set in WWII-era Hawaii, and the plot highlights an intense romance and love triangle. The film also recreates the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Many witnesses and survivors say the movie’s representation accurately depicts the attack. Pearl Harbor was filmed in various locations around Oahu, including Ford Island, Kualoa Ranch, Downtown Honolulu, and, of course, Pearl Harbor. 


4. Blue Crush – 2002

Bliue Crush Movie

Blue Crush is a legendary movie in the surfing world, filmed and set on Oahu’s North Shore. The flick follows Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) as she prepares to compete in the Pipeline Masters following a near-fatal injury. Adrenaline-pumping surfing scenes are coupled with themes of drama and romance as Anne Marie struggles with caring for her younger sister and juggles a relationship that threatens to derail her surfing career. The movie even features North Shore Oahu locals— and heavy hitters in the surfing community— like Kala Alexander. Overall, Blue Crush does a pretty good job illustrating what surfing culture was like on the North Shore in the early 2000s and is an inspiring film for women athletes everywhere. 


5. North Shore – 1987

When North Shore was released in 1987, it instantly became a cult classic. North Shore tells the story of Rick Kane, who wins a surfing contest in a wave pool in his home state of Arizona. Kane then, somewhat naively, ventures to Hawaii to tackle the waves on Oahu’s North Shore. After his first surf in Hawaii, Kane realizes he needs help navigating Oahu’s powerful surf— and the wrath of “Da Hui.” Fortunately, he meets Turtle, who becomes his mentor throughout the film. 

North Shore Movie

The cast is packed with surf and Hollywood stars, like Laird Hamilton, Occy, Gerry Lopez, and Nia Peeples. This quirky flick was filmed around some of Oahu’s most celebrated surf spots and produced several iconic quotes, such as, “When the wave breaks here, don’t be there.”


6. Raiders of the Lost Ark – 1981

Bits and pieces of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark were filmed on Kauai. The movie’s first few scenes— including the dramatic temple scene— were all filmed on Kauai, in locations like Wailua River, Kalalea Mountain, and Kipu Ranch. 

movies filmed in Hawaii

Funny enough, it’s said that Spielberg and George Lucas dreamt up the Indiana Jones legacy while vacationing on Kauai in 1977 after the release of Star Wars. Raiders of the Lost Ark received four Academy Awards and generated a cult following that is still going strong today. 


7. Tropic Thunder – 2008

Directed by Ben Stiller, this wacky 2008 comedy features a star-studded cast, with Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise, Danny McBride, Matthew McConaughey, and Stiller himself. Tropic Thunder follows a crew of actors playing soldiers in a Vietnam War memoir. But the plot takes a turn when the actors find themselves in danger, forced to act like the soldiers they portray. 

Tropic Thunder Movie

Although set in South East Asia, Tropic Thunder was filmed on Kauai. The film injected $60 million into the local economy and is the largest production in Kauai’s history. Despite Tropic Thunder’s hilarious absurdity, the movie took home a handful of awards and Academy nominations, and Robert Downey Jr. won an Oscar for his performance. 


8. 50 First Dates – 2004

Films shot in Hawaii

50 First Dates is a quirky romantic comedy set and filmed in Hawaii. This offbeat love story follows Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) and Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore). Henry tries to woo Lucy despite her head injury that causes short-term memory loss, effectively wiping her memory clean every morning. The movie was primarily shot around Kualoa Ranch but features bonus locations like Waimanalo Beach, Waimea Bay, and Sea Life Park. The film also features a hilarious local character, Ula, played by Rob Scheiner— who nails the pidgin accent. Watch this flick for a good laugh and beautiful scenes of Oahu’s East Side.


9. Blue Hawaii – 1961

This musical/romantic comedy was the first of three Hawaii-based movies starring Elvis Presley. Presley plays Chad Gates, who returns home to Hawaii after spending two years in Europe in the army. The film follows Chad as he struggles with his parent’s expectations and heaps of attention from the ladies.

Blue Hawaii Movie Elvis

Blue Hawaii features scenes filmed at recognizable locations around the state, like Hanauma Bay on Oahu and the now-defunct Coco Palms on Kauai. The film also features some of Elvis’ most famous songs, like ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love.’ In fact, the film’s soundtrack became the #1 album of 1961. 


10. Finding Ohana – 2021

In Netflix’s Finding Ohana, two siblings from Brooklyn head to Oahu to spend the summer with their grandfather. The family soon discovers that their grandfather is at risk of losing his house. Then, the youngest sibling, Pili, discovers a journal that sends her on the hunt for long-lost Spanish treasure. With her new friends and brother in tow, Pili heads into the mountains, hoping to find the treasure and save her grandfather’s house. 

Finding Ohana movie

This family-friendly flick is similar to The Goonies, except the foggy Oregon coast is swapped for Hawaii’s natural wonders. Most of the movie was filmed around Oahu’s windward side, near Kaneohe and at Kualoa Ranch. 


11. From Here To Eternity – 1953

This 1953 film follows the lives, loves, and drama of American military men in Hawaii in the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The movie features some of the biggest stars of the time, including Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra.

From Here to Eternity Beach

From Here To Eternity took home eight Academy Awards, including the award for Best Picture. The film also features one of the most legendary love scenes of all time, filmed between Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed at Halona Cove on Oahu. Many still refer to Halona Cove as the “From Here To Eternity Beach.”


12. South Pacific – 1958

Based on a novel by James Michener, this musical and historical classic is set on a Pacific Island during WWII. The plot focuses on a love story between a French Plantation owner, Emile, and an American nurse, Nellie, stationed on the island with the military. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and took home top honors for “Best Sound.” 

South Pacific Movie

South Pacific was filmed on Kauai and features some of the island’s most recognizable beaches and landscapes, like Hanalei Bay, Lumahai Beach, and Mount Makana near Haena State Park.


13. Soul Surfer – 2011

Soul Surfer is the biopic of Bethany Hamilton, a teenage surfer who lost her arm to a tiger shark on Kauai in 2003. Against all odds, Hamilton survived and continued to surf competitively, eventually achieving her dream of becoming a pro surfer. 

Bethany Hamilton movie

The film conveys Hamilton’s unyielding strength and tenacity to become one of the world’s best female surfers despite losing her arm. This inspirational tale was filmed around Oahu and Kauai, with an emphasis on Bethany Hamilton’s hometown on the north shore of Kauai. 


14. The Big Bounce – 2004

The Big Bounce Movie

This crime-laden comedy centers around Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson), a drifter with a petty criminal past. After heading to Hawaii, Ryan gets more than he bargained for when he’s seduced into robbing a big-time developer of his fortune. Also featured in the film are A-listers like Morgan Freeman, Charlie Sheen, and Willie Nelson. The Big Bounce was filmed around Oahu’s north shore, featuring Haleiwa Town, Waimea Bay, and Ke Iki Bungalows. 


15. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Forgetting Sarah Marshall tells the hilarious story of a heartbroken Peter Brenner (Jason Segel) who escapes to Oahu to get over his ex-girlfriend (Kristin Bell), only to find her and her new boyfriend (Russell Brand) vacationing in the same hotel. The movie was filmed and set at the luxurious Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. Familiar faces such as Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Mila Kunis, and Bill Hader are also featured in the film.

Films and Movies made in Hawaii


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