Top movies filmed in Hawaii
While there have been over 100 movies filmed in Hawaii over the last century, below you’ll find a list of our favorite Hawaii-based movies that span several film genres, decades and locations throughout Hawaii. Enjoy reading Pride of Maui’s list of the Top 20 Movies Filmed In Hawaii.
Released on Valentine’s Day in 2004, 50 First Dates stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. This funny and engaging comedy naturally brings out the charming connection that these two actors share as a perfectly cast pairing. Viewers will surely enjoy the beautiful Hawaii scenery, and quirky and heartfelt moments throughout this film.
Directed by Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder is a super fun action comedy starring Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Kahn, Anthony Ruivivar, and the hilarious Ben Stiller as washed-up actor Tugg Speedman. Actually filmed on the Island of Kauai, with a plot set in Southeast Asia, Tropic Thunder is a story about actors playing soldiers in a Vietnam War memoir only to be placed in actual danger and forced to become the soldiers that they portray.
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 multi-generational Hawaii resident who, alongside his two daughters, is battling the soon-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 well as enormous family and corporate pressure to sell 25,000 acres of his family’s in-trust, undeveloped land on Kauai.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall stars Jason Segel as the hilariously heartbroken Peter Brenner. After being dumped by his famous TV girlfriend, he travels to Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort to escape and find solitude, only to run into his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend vacationing at the same hotel.
Here is the inspirational story that every surf girl waited for on the big screen: glimpses of the early years of famous female Hawaii surfer, Bethany Hamilton. Starring AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton, this film expresses 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.
1993 + 2015
A fan favorite since its debut in 1993, the original Jurassic Park movie is without a doubt one of the most widely recognized movies of the 20th century. Winner of three Academy Awards, it’s safe to say that Jurassic Park goes down in history as one of the most popular movies filmed in Hawaii, and perhaps one of the greatest movies of all time.
Although primarily a romance movie, Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, successfully recreated an accurate 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 California, Nevada, Indiana, Texas, England and, of course, Hawaii with popular Hawaiian film sites including Kualoa Ranch, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor and other Honolulu areas.
Punch-Drunk Love is a romantic comedy/drama that revolves around a character named Barry Egan who has various psychological issues that include overdoing it on phone-sex lines, and buying incredible amounts of pudding.
A 1987 cult classic, North Shore tells the story of Rick Kane, an Arizona teenager who travels to Oahu’s famous North Shore after he wins a wave tank surfing contest in his home town. He ventures to Hawaii to try his skills in the world of professional surfing, but finds he’ll definitely need some help along the way.
This action-adventure and comedy film set on a deserted South Sea Island (Kauai), 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, flown by boozy, laid back pilot Quinn (Harrison Ford) whom she doesn’t seem to care for, and their plane crash lands on an uninhabited Pacific Island.
Blue Crush is as classic as you can get for a film set in Hawaii with a storyline surrounded by 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 Kate Bosworth in her early years, and she is as recognizable as ever with her two-toned eyes.
“The Big Bounce” is a crime-ridden comedy film shot in several locations on Oahu. The storyline is about Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson), a surfer with a small time con-artist past who ventures to bigger and better things in Hawaii.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a story that takes place in 1936. Indiana Jones is an archeological professor who sets out to South America in search of a golden statue. The film opens into 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.
Blue Hawaii is a classic romantic musical comedy about a young man named Chadwick Gates who’s fresh out of the Army, and enjoying his life in Hawaii. He also seems to be very popular with the ladies…
Blue Hawaii is the first of three Hawaii based movies starring the one and only Elvis Presley.
Starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr, Ray Walston, and Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary, South Pacific is a historical classic. Filmed on Kauai, scenes feature some of the Garden Isle’s most prominent landscapes including Hanalei Bay, Lumaha’i Beach, Kalapaki Bay and Mount Makana.
Set in 1941, the story is about Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift), a soldier who requested an Army transfer, but was sent to Schofield Barracks/Fort Shafter on Oahu instead. Directed by Fred Zinnemann, and starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra, From Here to Eternity is the most classically famous movie ever filmed in Hawaii.
There was a bit of an uproar when this movie was first released due to local Hawaii residents’ concerns about how well it would actually represent the “spirit of aloha.” Throughout the movie, you will experience a glimpse of Hawaii life through the character’s eyes, and without a doubt fall in love with the beautiful Hawaii scenery.
With a storyline that begins in San Francisco during the 1950’s, Big Eyes is a great Tim Burton film about the life and challenges of celebrated artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams). Margaret’s problematic and manipulative second husband Walter Keane is played by Christoph Waltz, who kills it in this role.
1991 + 2015
The original and amazing Point Break stars Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Gary Busey. The film follows FBI agent Johnny Utah (Reeves) as he goes undercover as a surfing amateur in order to track down a gang of successful bank robbers and adrenaline junkies known as the “Ex-Presidents.”
Hard Ticket to Hawaii is a 1987 action-adventure-stinker-turned-cult-classic that was filmed entirely on the Island of Moloka’i. With gratuitous use of over-the-top fight scenes, nonsensical story lines, bad acting, explosions, a Frisbee with razors and a mutant snake, this is definitely one you have to watch purely for humor’s sake.