Top 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.