comscore Discovering Hawaii Nei | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Five-0 Redux

Discovering Hawaii Nei

<em>Alex O'Loughlin and Peter Lenkov during the season three blessing ceremony at Mānoa Valley District Park. (Star-Advertiser File)</em>
Alex O'Loughlin and Peter Lenkov during the season three blessing ceremony at Mānoa Valley District Park. (Star-Advertiser File)

For the last two seasons of “Hawaii Five-0,” executive producer Peter Lenkov has stated the fifth main character in the show has always been beautiful Hawai‘i. And since the show has her name in the title, she is always in the backdrop, showing off her lovely island lines to the camera every Monday night.

But there is more to Hawai‘i’s beauty than meets the eye. I love how “Hawaii Five-0” shows how gorgeous our home is, but I also wish there was a pop-up window on TV screens to tell the world a bit of information or history about each scenic shot. Since most ‘Five-0’ fans probably wouldn’t want a little info bubble obscuring McGarrett’s face, I chose five spots that have been used pretty frequently in episodes to give you a little background on Hawai‘i Nei, or “this beloved Hawai’i.”

Waikīkī Beach

While Waikīkī Beach is one of the most famous beaches used as a location, it is also known to fans because of the two “Sunset on the Beach” season premieres. “Hawaii Five-0” has used it in many episodes, notably in “Kālele” where McGarrett and Danno take a surfing break, as well as where we met McGarrett’s family friend Mamo Kahike in “Ke Kinohi,” and where Kono gives Danno his first surfing lesson in “Kai e‘e.”

<em>Hawaii is often used as a backdrop in scenes for the popular CBS television show. (Courtesy CBS)</em>
Hawaii is often used as a backdrop in scenes for the popular CBS television show. (Courtesy CBS)

Waikiki is also home to of the Duke Kahanamoku statue, as well as the Waikīkī Natatorium War Memorial, the Waikīkī Aquarium and the Royal Hawaiian. Kapi‘olani Park, the Waikīkī Shell, the Honolulu Zoo are located across the street from the south end of the beach. Fort DeRussy Military Reservation and the Hilton Hawaiian Village are located at the north end of the beach.

Waikīkī was once a popular spot for Hawaiian royalty, where they surfed and relaxed, and it was where Duke Kahanamoku, the godfather of modern surfing, grew up surfing and paddling. It is also where the popular Waikīkī Beach Boys taught surfing lessons to visitors and locals alike. Even if you have never been to Hawai‘i, you most likely would recognize this famous location even when “Hawaii Five-0” uses Waikīkī Beach in background or overhead shots.

Diamond Head

Shadowing Waikīkī Beach is the iconic symbol of Hawai‘i, Diamond Head. The now dormant volcanic crater is seen in the opening credits of “Hawaii Five-0,” and as a location.

<em>Danno and Gracie have a father and daughter moment at Diamond Head lookout. (Courtesy CBS)</em>
Danno and Gracie have a father and daughter moment at Diamond Head lookout. (Courtesy CBS)
In the season two ender “Ua Hala,” Danno makes his pledge to Gracie at the Diamond Head lookout, and in the season one episode “Kai e‘e” the exterior shots of the Pacific Disaster Center were shot at Fort Ruger in Diamond Head crater.

Diamond Head is known as Lēʻahi, or brow of the ‘ahi (tuna) to Hawaiians because its ridge resembled the dorsal fin of the fish, but was called Diamond Head by the British who thought the minerals in the rocks were diamonds. Now called Diamond Head State Monument, it is a popular hiking and lookout spot, and while it is no longer part of O‘ahu’s coastal defense system, you can still see remnants of military bunkers and the navigational lighthouse built in the early 1900’s.

Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island

<em>McGarrett meets Kensi Blye at Ala Moana Beach Park. (Courtesy CBS)</em>
McGarrett meets Kensi Blye at Ala Moana Beach Park. (Courtesy CBS)

If you head east of Waikiki Beach you will run right past Ala Moana Beach Park, a popular beach and picnic spot for Hawai‘i locals. “Five-0” fans will recognize it mainly as the home of Kamekona’s Waiola Shave Ice stand, which has been in several episodes, as well as where McGarrett took down the diamond thief/triathlete in “Heihei.”

Adjacent to Ala Moana Beach Park is Magic Island, where this season McGarrett and Joe White and introduced the concept of the plate lunch to “NCIS: LA” Kensi Blye in “Ka Hakakā Maika‘I, as well as where Danno was forced to shoot step-Stan in “Mai Ka Wā Kahiko.” Ala Moana is perhaps most infamously known as the park where Thalia Massie was allegedly raped by five local men. The trial of the five men was called “The Ala Moana Case” because of where the attack took place. The case ended in a mistrial because of huge holes in Thalia Massie’s story. The famous “Massie Case” was actually the trial where Grace Massie’s husband, Thomas, and her mother, Grace Fortescue, were tried for the kidnap and murder of Joseph Kahahawai, one of the five wrongly accused men. While Ala Moana Park is still plagued by a some urban problems, it is still a very popular spot for stand-up paddle boarders, families, and sunbathers because of its central location and calm seas.

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch, located in Kaʻaʻawa Valley, is one of the most famous shooting spots on the island because we have seen the lush mountain range in several movies like “Jurassic Park,” “50 First Dates” and “Pearl Harbor,” as well as in television shows like “LOST” and “Magnum PI.”

<em>Kualoa Ranch stands in for North Korea. (Courtesy CBS)</em>
Kualoa Ranch stands in for North Korea. (Courtesy CBS)
“Hawaii Five-0” has used the epic location to stand in for North Korea in the pilot episode, as well as in “Ki‘ilua,” when McGarrett and Jenna Kaye look for her fiancé, who was being held hostage by Wo Fat in the hostile country.

We also recognize the familiar surroundings of the 4,000-acre working cattle ranch in the Na Koa warrior scenes in “Kūpale” and when Wo Fat and McG rumble in the jungle in “Ua Hopu.” Kualoa Ranch was the backdrop to several season one episodes as well. McG and Danno take an ill-fated hike in “Ma Ke Kahakai,” and when Chin Ho and McGarrett are chased through Kualoa while trying to save Julie Masters in “E Malama.” But no matter how Kualoa is portrayed on screen, its majestic beauty and grandeur add to the visual beauty of “Hawaii Five-0.”

Mānoa Valley

While not as recognizable as Kualoa Ranch, Mānoa Valley is almost as famous as a popular shooting spot. “LOST” filmed much of its show in the rainy valley, most often at the now-defunct Paradise Park, and “Hawaii Five-0” is no stranger to this beautiful area. Once a popular spot for Hawaiian royalty, where they retired in the warmer summer months, Mānoa is mostly a residential area, which is also the primary campus for the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, as well as for several private secondary schools.

“Hawaii Five-0” most recently held their season three blessing at Mānoa Valley District Park. They also used Mānoa to shoot the jungle scenes and the marijuana grow field in “Ka Me‘e,” and many of the homes used in the show, like Kono’s home as well as several victim’s homes, are located in the Mānoa area.

Regardless of how “Hawaii Five-0” uses the various location spots in our homeland — and no matter what island they choose to film, Hawai‘i always seems to look completely beautiful and vibrantly lush and green. Our island home may be the fifth character in a popular television show, but for all intents and purposes, she is the most visually stunning and charming of the cast. And she will be for many years to come.

Redux Side Note:

This week’s repeat of “Hawaii Five-0” was “Mai ka wā kahiko,” and this weekend “Hawaii Five-0” will show “Mea Makamae” at a special time on Saturday July 28.

Any errors in pinpointing shooting spots are mistakes of my own, but I did get help from 3D Hawaii and their “Hawaii Five-0” scene spotting blog. Check out their weekly breakdown of the locations used in each episode. And thanks to Gaby @H50Europe and Mizzoh @AOLRocks for screen caps.
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Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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  • Excellent article. Love to read about Hawaii and you make it so enticing! Hope you’ll consider writing about more locations so we can learn everything we can about your wonderful state!

    • Thanks for your support Dana and for reading and commenting! I think you’ve seen these before but last summer 

      I wrote about the USS Missouri: http://www.honolulupulse.com/blogs/behind-the-scenes-on-the-mighty-mo, Ford Island/Pearl Harbor: http://www.honolulupulse.com/movies-tv/exploring-ford-island-five-0-style and I’olani Palace: http://www.honolulupulse.com/movies-tv/a-‘five-0’-friendly-takeover?page=3 But I haven’t written about many other spots- so thanks for the ideas:) And thanks for coming along for the ride! XO Wendie

  • Excellent as usual Wendie! 

    Whenever my hubby and I discuss taking a trip to Hawaii it’s always a disagreement over which island to visit.  He thinks if we only get to Hawaii once we should see every island.  He likes the idea of a cruise that makes stops on different islands.  I don’t like that idea.  While I do not disagree with wanting to see every island eventually, if I’m only going to get to go once, I want to spend as much time as I can on Oahu. 

    Of course, he thinks it’s only because of H50.  While there is a bit of truth in that (honestly, I’ve wanted to go every since the Brady’s went LOL) it’s not the reason.  The things you have written about, the wonderful places to see and things to do, as well as the traditional tourist things I feel it would be criminal to miss…Pearl Harbor, the Palace, Aloha tower, Punchbowl to name a few… are ALL on Oahu!  I don’t want to miss a single thing there or miss out on meeting my Hawaiian Ohana who live there.

    So thank you for this wonderful article and feel free to write all you want about the wonders of Oahu.  I will bookmark every single article and every time our Hawaiian disagreement starts again I can pull out my laptop and SHOW him why I’m right!  Mahalu nui loa sistah!

    • You both have a point..my 1st visit to Hawaii I saw Oahu and Hawii and enjoyed both. there are excursions over to the BigIsland and they are very worth it.  The tours are price inclusive..air and transportation fly over sit on a bus and tour at least one other island.  It usualy takes ONE whoel day to visit any other island.  While on Oahu  be sure you you take a bus tour around the island, most beautiful.  And you can not miss The Polinesian Center.  Enjoy…once and then again.  It is heaven.
      Bill H.

    • Thanks Linda! Can’t wait until you get here to see everything you want to see! A cruise would be really lovely too- but I know what you mean about there being so much to see just on O‘ahu. I think your first visit would be O‘ahu and then subsequent visits could be a cruise or another island. You have to do O‘ahu at least once to see specific things like PH and I’olani Palace and Punchbowl. Aloha Tower is pretty quick and more of a shopping visit- but still, not bad if you can see some island history and then have pupu’s and a maitai right after:) Thanks for reading and commenting and SUPPORTING, Linda! Aloha, Wendie

  • “…she is the most visually stunning and charming of the cast.”
    Indeed she is, Wendie.  A job well done to the directors who shoot her so lovingly. It is a treat to watch Five-0 not just for the actors and the storytelling, but also for the backdrop.
    I made a Pinterest board the other day of all the places I want to see on Oahu. I hit every spot on your list, and now I’ll definitely be looking for things like the remnants of military bunkers and the navigational lighthouse built in the early 1900’s on Diamond Head. Mahalo for all the great info 🙂

    • Diamond Head is really a great hike and the views are spectacular when you finish- there are many other gems on the island, as I’m sure you know- I’ll check out your Pintrest board and see what you want to see! 😀 SEE you soon! Aloha, Wendie

  • Very interesting article!  Thanks for always giving me a history lesson! I can’t wait to visit and show off all my knowledge!! What a great combo – enjoying  the beauty of both cast and islands!! Love it!

  • Exceellent article Wendie on the locations used in Five0. I did remember some of the same trees/bushes from Lost. The locations are a big part of the show.
    Paul

    • Thanks Paul:) I’m sure if a LOSTie wrote something like this, it would be a lot of Kualoa and Mānoa;) H50 uses many other spots as well, but I didn’t want to write a novel! LOL Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Wendie – you make Hawaii home for all of us with all the fabulous locations rich with culture and traditions, we feel so much a part of it when we read this blog.  You have been doing this since day one and I can’t thank you enough for making this show so unique and wonderful for us all.

    • Thanks Val:) I really appreciate your comment! Sometimes I wonder if people would like to know more about Hawai’i and our culture and people- and this helps to confirm my want to write about certain aspects of Hawaii Five-0 that don’t always get covered by other articles/blogs:) Mahalo! Wendie

  • Wendie – you make Hawaii home for all of us with all the fabulous locations rich with culture and traditions, we feel so much a part of it when we read this blog.  You have been doing this since day one and I can’t thank you enough for making this show so unique and wonderful for us all.

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