Top 20 Movies Filmed in Hawaii

Even before our islands became a state of the U.S., there had been many great movies filmed in Hawaii. The Pacific Islands have always been some of the most desirable locations for filming, and there’s no question as to why. Just look at our beautiful islands, landscapes, and oceans, not to mention the warm and brilliant Hawaiian culture. With gorgeous year-round weather and breathtaking locations, it’s plain to see why studio execs continue to choose the land of aloha as the perfect setting for their movies.

Top 20 Movies Filmed in Hawaii

While there have been over 100 movies filmed in Hawaii over the last century, we have chosen 20 of our favorite Hawaii-based movies. Our list spans several film genres, decades and locations throughout Hawaii. Enjoy reading Pride of Maui’s list of the Top 20 Movies Filmed In Hawaii.


50 First Dates


Released on Valentine’s Day in 2004, 50 First Dates stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. This funny and engaging comedy brings out the naturally charming connection that these two actors share. They are a perfect on-screen pairing. Viewers will enjoy all of the beautiful Hawaii scenery and the quirky and heartfelt moments throughout this film.

Previously afraid of commitment, Henry (Sandler) finally meets the girl of his dreams, Lucy (Barrymore), in a Hawaii diner. The thing is, Henry soon discovers that Lucy suffers from short term memory loss and she can’t remember meeting him at all, day after day. 50 First Dates was the second romantic comedy collaboration between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. It is definitely not a film to be missed.

This Hawaii film was shot across several scenic locations on Oahu. They used Waimanalo Beach, Dillingham Estate, Ka’a’awa Valley, Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Bay, Sea Life Park, Kaneohe Bay and Waikane Pier.

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Tropic Thunder


Directed by Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder is a super fun action comedy with an all-star cast. It stars Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Kahn, Anthony Ruivivar, and of course the hilarious Ben Stiller as washed-up actor Tugg Speedman. Although it was filmed on the Island of Kauai, the plot is set in Southeast Asia. Tropic Thunder is a story about actors playing soldiers in a Vietnam War memoir only to be placed in real danger and forced to become the soldiers that they portray.

Released in 2008, Tropic Thunder became the largest film production in Kauai’s history, contributing more than $60 million to the local economy. While certainly high on the scale of silliness, this action comedy film took home several awards. Robert Downey Jr. was even nominated for the Oscar for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” for his character, Kirk Lazarus, “a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude.”

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The Descendants


The Descendants was filmed on Oahu and the Island of Kauai. The film follows the story of Matt King, played by George Clooney. Matt is a distant descendant of Hawaiian royalty who, alongside his two daughters, is battling the soon-to-be-fatal results of his wife’s tragic boating accident. At the same time, Matt is faced with news of his wife’s past marital affair. As if that wasn’t enough, he is also under enormous pressure from his family to sell 25,000 acres of their in-trust, undeveloped land on Kauai.

The film is based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, a long-time Hawaii resident. It not only has historical relevance, but also a commonality that is experienced by many in Hawaii today. The film’s director, Alexander Payne, moved out to Oahu for eight months to understand more about Hawaii’s culture and way of life. This is evident in the film’s depiction of the modern development mindset versus the local interest of keeping the untouched Hawaiian lands preserved and intact.

Locations used for filming include Oahu’s Nu’uanu neighborhood, Elk’s Club Honolulu Lodge, Queen’s Medical Center, Kauai’s Kipu Ranch, Hanalei Bay, the Tahiti Nui Bar and more. The film took home the 2012 Academy Award for “Best Writing,” and it was highly praised by both local and national audiences. The cast includes George Clooney, Patricia Hastie, Beau Bridges, a cameo by Laird Hamilton, and some wonderful young actors like Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller and Nick Krause.

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall


Forgetting Sarah Marshall stars Jason Segel as the hilariously heartbroken Peter Brenner. After being dumped by his famous girlfriend, he escapes to Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort to find some solitude. Of course, he runs into his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend who are vacationing at the same hotel.

The movie provides an entertaining look at Hawaii resort life. If nothing else, it has taught thousands of people how to correctly pronounce Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the State Fish of Hawaii. It was filmed in 2007 in California and Hawaii and released the next year. This movie is as feel-good as it gets with its hysterical too-real dialogue, and a great cast of fun characters.

The incredible cast of this film set in Hawaii includes Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand and Bill Hader. Specific Hawaii-based film locations include La’ie Point and the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu, and more areas in Honolulu.

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Soul Surfer


Here is the inspirational story that every surf girl waited for on the big screen. Soul Surfer offers glimpses of the early years of famous female Hawaii surfer, Bethany Hamilton. Starring AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton, the film shows how she overcame her fears and the odds of professionally surfing after a shark attack led to her losing her left arm as a teenager.

Soul Surfer is a sort of fusion of drama, sports and biographical films. It successfully portrays the strength, spirituality and humility of one of the most recognizable and talented female surfers known to date. Bethany Hamilton is a star here in Hawaii. Her community outreach programs, and “by-invite only” girls surf camps speak volumes to her vested interest in Hawaii’s female surf culture.

The stars who elevate this Hawaii family film include Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Carrie Underwood and more. This film was shot throughout the Hawaiian Islands. It also has a special presentation of Bethany Hamilton’s home, the Island of Kauai.

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Jurassic Park & Jurassic World

1993 + 2015

A classic since its debut in 1993, the original Jurassic Park is one of the most widely recognized movies of the 20th century. Winner of three Academy Awards, it’s safe to say that Jurassic Park will go down in history as one of the most popular movies filmed in Hawaii. It’s not a stretch to call it perhaps one of the greatest movies of all time.

You just can’t help but love a film that brought dinosaurs back to life and created such classic lines as “hold onto your butts,” “clever girl” and “must go faster!” It was filmed across locations in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, California and Hawaii. Kauai’s Manawaiopuna Falls (now often referred to as “Jurassic Park Falls”) and Oahu’s Kualoa Ranch are two of the most iconic places used in this Hawaii movie. The Jurassic Park franchise now spans over thirty years with six films, several series, novels, video-games and so much more.

Jurassic World was an instant box office hit in 2015, grossing $204,600,000 in just the opening weekend. In Jurassic World, set 22 years after the original Jurassic Park had failed, a new and improved park is opened on the original site. After years of research, scientists have found a way to genetically engineer an all-new breed of dinosaur. It of course goes terribly wrong, and the adventure unfolds! The first five of the Jurassic Park movies have been filmed in several locations throughout the Hawaiian Islands. That almost-perfect streak was ended by 2022’s Jurassic World: Dominion.

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Pearl Harbor


Although it is primarily a romance movie, Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor accurately recreated a look at the attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Starring Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin, Cuba Gooding Jr., and John Voight as FDR, the film was a major blockbuster hit.

It was filmed in several U.S. states, England and, of course, Hawaii. Popular Hawaiian film sites that were used include Kualoa Ranch, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor and other areas in Honolulu.

Pearl Harbor grossed a little over $75 million in domestic box office sales during its opening weekend alone. The premiere was held at Pearl Harbor aboard the carrier USS John Stennis. Although the love story in the movie was not well-received by critics or viewers, the depiction of the attacks on Pearl Harbor have been praised. Many survivors and witnesses agree that the movie is reflective of the true situation that they experienced.

The cast is quite star-studded and includes Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., William Lee Scott, Ewen Bremner, Alec Baldwin, Jaime King, Catherine Kellner, Jennifer Garner, Jon Voight, and more. This adaptation of the events at Pearl Harbor won an Oscar in 2002 for “Best Sound Editing,” and had eleven other various wins among 48 nominations.

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Punch-Drunk Love


Punch-Drunk Love is both a romantic comedy and a drama that revolves around a character named Barry Egan. Barry has various issues that include overdoing it on phone-sex lines, and buying incredible amounts of pudding.

Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson, here is yet another funny flick starring Adam Sandler as the main character. Note that it is rated R for strong language and sexual dialogue. You will find that although this is a comedy, it leans towards a more mature audience as the film focuses on some grounded and at times gritty subjects and themes.

The cast is full of fun characters played by Adam Sandler, Jason Andrews, Don McManus, Emily Watson, Luis Guzman, Rico Bueno, Julie Hermelin and more. Punch-Drunk Love was filmed in various locations around Southern California and Oahu, Hawaii. Even the photo for the film’s poster was shot at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.

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North Shore


A cult classic from 1987, North Shore tells the story of Rick Kane. Rick is a teenager who travels to Oahu’s famous North Shore after he wins a wave tank surfing contest in his hometown in Arizona. He ventures to Hawaii to try his skills in the world of professional surfing, but finds that he’ll need a little help from some friends along the way.

North Shore was filmed across several famous North Shore surfing locales. It also includes stunts and appearances by several of Hawaii’s most famed professional surfers! Laird Hamilton is the film’s awesome antagonist and is joined by Lance Burkhart, Gerry Lopez, Alex Rogers, Robbie Page, Mark Occhilupo, Shaun Tomson, Derek Ho and more.

While North Shore certainly didn’t take home any Oscars, it did produce some memorable lines such as “he’s so haole he doesn’t even know he’s haole,” and “you’ve got a single fin mentality.” It’s definitely worth a watch!

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Six Days Seven Nights


This action-adventure and comedy film is set on a deserted South Sea Island played by Kauai. It is a perfectly charming story about a magazine writer named Robin (Anne Heche) who’s on vacation with her boyfriend, but decides to cover a story on a neighboring island. She has to take the only available plane to get there and its flown by boozy, laid back pilot Quinn (Harrison Ford). She doesn’t seem to care much for Quinn, and their plane crash-lands on an uninhabited Pacific Island.

The real fun begins when the two get to know one another while in survival mode. They end up on the run from pirates and enduring through all sorts of mishaps.

The cast includes many fan favorites like Harrison Ford, Anne Heche, David Schwimmer, Allison Janney, Amy Sedaris and Danny Trejo. It was filmed mostly in Kauai, specifically on Honopu Beach, which was also used as a location for 1976’s King Kong!

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Blue Crush


Blue Crush is as classic as you can get for a film set in Hawaii with a storyline steeped in surf culture, drama and love. There was also a Blue Crush 2 filmed in Hawaii, but the original is where it’s at! The main character is played by a young Kate Bosworth, and she is as recognizable as ever with her two-toned eyes.

The story is centered on the life of a hardworking surf girl named Anne Marie who takes on the role of mom to her kid sister. She works in a hotel as a housekeeper with her friends, and spends her free time surfing Oahu’s North Shore. Anne Marie has the chance to showcase her skills at an upcoming Pipe Masters surf contest, so throughout the movie we see her balancing life’s challenges while still waking up at dawn to train for a pro surf event.

During her day to day life, Anne Marie ends up falling in love with an NFL football player who is visiting Hawaii from the mainland. Romantic drama unfolds as the two strive to make a relationship work in the midst of Anne Marie’s personal discoveries.

The movie has a cameo by famous surfer Keala Kennelly, who plays one of the other surfers in competition with Anne Marie. The cast includes both Hollywood actors and local Hawaii celebrities. You’ll see Kate Bosworth, Matthew Davis, Michelle Rodriquez, Sanoe Lake, Mika Boorem, Chris Taloa, Kala Alexander, Kaupena Miranda, Asa Aquino, Fiji and more. The filming locations used on Oahu are the Hawaii Film Studio in Honolulu, and a ton of popular North Shore areas.

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The Big Bounce


The Big Bounce is both a crime and comedy film shot in several places on Oahu. The storyline is about Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson), a surfer with a small-time con-artist past who ventures on to bigger and better things in Hawaii.

Jack soon meets a tempting new friend and a pack of big-time bandits as the movie unfolds. The Big Bounce is a fun film that revolves around organized crime, theft, wealthy living, disguise and seduction. This film was originally rated R due to sexual content, nudity and language, but squeaked by with a PG-13 rating after they cut out some of the more mature scenes.

Throughout this movie, you’ll see scenes filmed at beautiful North Shore Oahu locations like Historic Haleiwa Town and Waimea Valley. They also used the Ke Iki Bungalows near the Banzai Pipeline surf break in Pupukea. Directed by George Armitage, The film features a funny screenplay and a cast full of fan favorites. See Morgan Freeman, Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen, Willie Nelson, Sarah Foster and Gregory Sporleder in The Big Bounce.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark


Raiders of the Lost Ark is a story that takes place in 1936. Indiana Jones is a professor of archaeology who sets out to South America in search of a golden statue. The film opens with traps, adventure and escape, and continues when Dr. Jones gets word from Marcus Brody, a museum curator. Brody informs Indiana about a biblical artifact called the “Ark of the Covenant,” which is said to hold the key to human existence, and Indy’s next journey begins as he sets off to find it.

Eleven years before he would return to film Jurassic Park, director Steven Spielberg would use Hawaii for Raiders of the Lost Ark. He chose Kauai’s Kipu Ranch and Anahola Mountains to play the booby-trapped Peruvian temple and Amazonian jungle in the hit film. In the first of four (soon to be five!) Indiana Jones movies, Harrison Ford stars as the legendary titular professor in this 1981 gem.

Winner of 4 Academy Awards, Raiders of the Lost Ark was actually dreamed up while George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were on a trip in Hawaii in 1977, just after the release of Star Wars. Another interesting fact is that Tom Selleck was the first choice to play Indiana Jones. As fate would have it, he was barred by CBS due to his commitment to star in the Hawaii TV hit, Magnum, P.I. Along with Harrison Ford, this classic movie stars actors like Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Denholm Elliott, William Hootkins and more.

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Blue Hawaii


Blue Hawaii is a classic romantic musical comedy about a young man named Chadwick Gates. He’s fresh out of the Army, and is enjoying his life in Hawaii. He also seems to be quite popular with the ladies.

Blue Hawaii is the first of three Hawaii-based movies starring the one and only Elvis Presley.

The soundtrack became the #1 album of 1961, and the film includes scenes at several Hawaii locations. There is the former Coco Palms Resort on Kauai, Kaiser Hawaiian Village Hotel in Waikiki (now the Hilton Hawaiian Village), and Oahu’s Hanauma Bay Beach Park.

Whether it’s hearing a young Elvis sing “Ke Kali Nei Au” (the Hawaiian Wedding song) or “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You”, Blue Hawaii remains a nostalgic look at 1960’s Hawaii. It inspired much more than tiki culture and a Hawaii born tropical cocktail!

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South Pacific


South Pacific is a historical classic, with a cast starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr, Ray Walston, and Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary. It was filmed on Kauai, with scenes featuring some of the Garden Isle’s most prominent landscapes. You’ll find Hanalei Bay, Lumaha’i Beach, Kalapaki Bay and Mount Makana.

This film adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical by the same name debuted in 1958. It was just one year before Hawaii was granted statehood. The story is focused on an American nurse who is stationed on a Pacific island during WWII. She falls in love with a French expat who owns a plantation, and who undergoes much personal discovery while learning to accept his children. While watching the film, viewers will gain a new perspective on the complications of loving relationships, various pre-civil-rights attitudes on racial equality, and more.

This film helped put Kauai on the map as a filming site thanks to its sweeping beauty and picturesque landscapes. South Pacific even won the Oscar for “Best Sound” in 1959. Movie lovers have watched and fallen in love with it time, and time again.

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From Here to Eternity


Set in 1941, the story is about Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift). He is a soldier who had requested an Army transfer, but was sent to Schofield Barracks/Fort Shafter on Oahu instead. The film was directed by Fred Zinnemann, and stars Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra. From Here to Eternity is the most classically famous movie to have been filmed in Hawaii.

As Prewitt was once an avid boxer, his new captain tries to encourage him to get back in the ring. While he’s at first unwilling, challenges begin to unfold in his new Hawaii military life. All set before the bombings of Pearl Harbor, a romance unfolds between Prewitt and a social club server named Lorene, played by Donna Reed. One of the most famous love scenes ever filmed was between Clift and Reed on a beach in Hawaii. Today, that Oahu beach is still known as “From Here to Eternity Beach.”

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There was a bit of an uproar when this movie first came out due to local residents’ concerns about how well it would represent the “spirit of aloha.” Throughout the movie, you will get a glimpse of Hawaii life through the characters’ eyes, and will no doubt fall in love with the beautiful Hawaii scenery.

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Aloha tells the story of a decorated military contractor played by Bradley Cooper. He returns to Hawaii on a new mission, while dealing with his past with his ex, and falling in love with the cute and fierce Air Force watch-dog played by Rachel McAdams. This Hawaii-based drama and romantic comedy was shot throughout Oahu. Crowe made sure to pay special attention to Honolulu areas and Hickam Air Force Base. There is also a nice cameo by Hawaiian activist Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele who has defended the film by stating “This big screen thing is really going to be helpful for us,” in regards to the current state of affairs for Hawaiian Sovereignty. (, 2015)

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Big Eyes


With a story that begins in San Francisco during the 1950’s, Big Eyes is a great Tim Burton film about the life of famed artist Margaret Keane, played by Amy Adams. Her problematic and manipulative husband Walter Keane is played by Christoph Waltz, who of course kills it in the role.

This film shows the struggle that Margaret Keane went through to create a name for herself in the modern art world of the 1950s and 60s. While she toiled in backroom art studios as a painter, her husband claimed her work as his own and reveled in his ill-gotten glory. You will have to watch to the end to see if justice is served.

Lovers of both art and drama will enjoy watching this film with its wonderful vintage costume and set designs. The movie was filmed in popular San Francisco neighborhoods including North Beach, and in more locations all over the UK, Canada, and the US. Of course we’re here to talk about the parts shot in Waikiki, Hawaii. The scenes filmed in Hawaii showcase a classic era when Waikiki was the most popular destination here. Hawaii is where Keane begins to heal from her trauma, and she rediscovers her inner strength both as a woman and as an artist.

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Point Break

1991 + 2015

The original Point Break from 1991 stars Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Gary Busey. The film follows FBI agent Johnny Utah (Reeves) as he goes undercover as a surfer to track down a gang of bank robbers and adrenaline junkies known as the “Ex-Presidents.”

The culprits of this film earned their name because they wear the masks of Presidents Reagan, Carter, Nixon and Johnson when they rob banks. The bulk of the film was shot in several locations throughout California, but some of the surf scenes were filmed at Oahu’s famed Waimea Bay. Two months prior to filming in 1990, Swayze and Reeves received surf coaching from big wave surfer and stunt double, Darrick “Double D” Doerner. Keanu Reeves actually learned how to surf for this role, and still surfs to this day. The late Patrick Swayze was an avid skydiver in real life and performed his own skydiving stunts in this film. Fun Fact: the Malibu, CA beach where the football game is played at the start of the film is called Leo Carillo Beach. It’s the same beach that was used for the soccer game in the first Karate Kid movie from 1984.

The newest Point Break film from 2015 was filmed at a host of stunning locations around the world. Some parts were filmed at Maui’s biggest surf break, Jaws-Peahi. The story is based on the original, but lacking when compared to the first. This 2015 version also follows a young FBI agent whose mission is to infiltrate a group of corporate-heist radicals.

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Hard Ticket to Hawaii


Hard Ticket to Hawaii is an action-adventure-stinker-turned-cult-classic from 1987 that was filmed entirely on the Island of Moloka’i. With its over-the-top fight scenes, nonsensical story lines, bad acting, explosions, a Frisbee with razors, and a mutant snake, this is definitely one that you have to watch purely for the sake of it.

If you’re searching for the best of movie ridiculousness, then look no further. The winner of zero Oscars, Hard Ticket to Hawaii was at least named the “Best B-Movie of All Time” by Paste Magazine in 2014.

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Obviously we couldn’t fit all of our favorite movies filmed in Hawaii on this list. There are so many other noteworthy films! More movies filmed in Hawaii include: Honeymoon in Vegas, Hawaii, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, King Kong, Godzilla, Donovan’s Reef, Picture Bride, A Very Brady Sequel, tons of surf films, and many more. We hope that you enjoyed our list of the Top 20 Movies Filmed in Hawaii.

Local Guide

We are local Maui guide experts and Hawaii enthusiasts who love to share the Aloha spirit and our favorite things to do on Maui.