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Blockbuster Movies Filmed on Kauai

Waimea Canyon, a location for movies filmed on Kauai

Waimea Canyon in Kauai.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Garden Isle of Kauai has served as the backdrop for so many movies. This is especially true for those that need a beautiful tropical setting as a key element for their story lines. But what were the best of all of the movies filmed on Kauai? Many won’t be surprised to learn that many of them were some of the biggest and most popular films ever made. 

Movie aficionados definitely should spend some time checking out these locations

on their upcoming trip to the Garden Isle. Here is a just sampling of some of the major movies filmed on Kauai.

Sampling of Movies Filmed on Kauai

South Pacific

Perhaps no other movie has showcased the grandeur of the Hanalei Bay area better than the 1958 film version of South Pacific. Starring Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor, this movie a huge hit when it was first released. It was nominated for a number of Academy and Golden Globe awards, including nominations for best musical and best picture. The film depicted war time life in a fictional South Pacific island location. But the movie certainly helped to promote Hawaii to prospective tourists to the islands.

Blue Hawaii

When you have Elvis Presley and Kauai starring in a movie what else do you need? The answer is you don’t. The 1961 movie, of course, featured classic songs sung by the King. Such songs included Blue Hawaii, Hawaiian Wedding Song and Can’t Help Falling in Love. This film was the first of three Elvis movies shot in Hawaii. The last 20 minutes of the show showcased the once iconic Coco Palms Resort in Wailua. Unfortunately, Hurricane Iniki severely damaged the resort in 1992 and it had to be abandoned. But the location will be the home of a new Hyatt resort in 2017. The show depicted many positive aspects of living in Hawaii. As a result, it certainly had a great impact on positioning the Aloha State as a desirable vacation destination.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The opening shots of the 1981 Hollywood blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark were shot in the area near Kipu Falls. You can find Kipu Falls just southeast of the town of Lihue. The movie starred one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Harrison Ford. Today Kipu Ranch operates a zip line and offers ATV tours. Here, you can visit the same areas where key scenes of one of the highest grossing films of all time were shot.

Jurassic Park

The first three Jurassic Park films had many scenes shot on Kauai. The island served as the setting for the fictional island of Isla Nublar off the Central American coast. Steven Speilberg directed the first two movies of the still continuing series of Jurassic Park films.  These three movies were respectively released in 1993, 1997 and 2001. They were shot in the Valley House, Wailua, Limahuli, Olokele Canyon, Manawaiopuna Falls and Kilauea areas of Kauai.

The Descendants

This 2011 critically acclaimed film featured George Clooney in an Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winning role. The story’s main plot lines involved a local family’s internal struggle over landownership on Kauai and the island’s setting offered more than just a nice background for the movie. This Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winning movie prominently featured areas in Princeville, Hanalei and many other places throughout Kauai. Perhaps no other major motion picture more realistically captured life on the Garden Isle better than this movie.

Awards & Affiliations

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Hawaii's Best 2018
Hawaii's Visitors and Convention Bureau
American Society of Travel Agents