One of the main reasons why “Hawaii Five-0” is such a draw for visitors to Hawaii, besides the show’s popular actors, great action and stunts, and engaging storyline, is, of course, its fabulous shooting location. So when fans arrive in Hawaii and get to see these spots up close, while it may not be the same as viewing them on high-definition television, all would agree—nothing is better than seeing Hawaii live and in person.
This weekend 60 “Hawaii Five-0” fans got together and went on a “Hawaii Five-0” fan-tastic journey. Not only did they gather as friends, they also toured “Five-0” locations, attended a traditional Hawaiian luau at Kualoa Ranch, and got a chance to meet cast members Teilor Grubbs, Brian Yang and Dennis Chun. All of the events were planned by Bruce and Yaling Fisher of Hawaii Aloha Travel, with Officer808, of the website “Five-0 Undercover,” as well as myself, taking part in the bus tour to explain the culture and significance of the shooting spots around the island.
Friday, Sept. 7, was the kickoff, with a “H50 Fan Tweetup” at Tiki’s Grill and Bar in Waikiki. Luckily for the 30 fans who joined the party, they also got to see Amy Hanaiali‘i perform during a live taping of “Hot Hawaiian Nights.” It was a casual evening, with everyone milling around listening to music, chatting on Hawaii Aloha Travel’s live streaming video, and getting to know one another. I met fans from Austria, Germany, New Zealand, England via Sweden, France, as well as many from the continental U.S. It was a nice way to break the ice and make some new friends.
On Sunday, Sept. 9, 60 of us met at the Park Shore Hotel to catch the special “Hawaii Five-0” tour bus and head out to specific shooting locations, starting with the popular Kakaako area where “Five-0” has shot many action-filled scenes — like the alley where Fryer and Max were shot in “Ua Hala,” and the street where the diamond heist in “Kālele” happened.
After driving through Kakaako, we headed toward King Street to see Aliiolani Hale — the stand in for “Five-0” Headquarters, as well as the King Kamehameha statue, and of course, the ‘Iolani Palace—the original headquarters for the classic “Hawaii Five-O” episodes. Fans got a taste of where Chin Ho awaited his fate when he was strapped with a neck-bomb, where Laura Hills (Hawaii actress Kelly Hu) was blown up in the season one ending “‘Oiaʻiʻo,” as well as the area where Chin introduced Danno to the always-delicious Liliha Bakery Coco Puff in “E Mālama”
After visiting the fictional “Five-0” headquarters, we headed to the real life “Hawaii Five-0” soundstage and got a chance to see the burn marks left on the former Honolulu Advertiser building from the season two ender “Ua Hala” when they blew up the police station. While we didn’t get to go inside, the fans got a chance to see the very place where the “magic happens.” We took several pictures and then headed to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, or to Hawaii folks — Punchbowl.
Many of you are familiar with the hallowed spot, as the statue of Lady Columbia is seen in the opening credits (as well as the credits of the original “Hawaii Five-O”), it is also the place where Steve’s dad, Jack McGarrett, is buried, and where Governor Jameson’s funeral took place in the season two opener “Ha‘i‘ole.”
After Punchbowl, we traveled to the Pearl Harbor Memorial & Visitor Center for a quick visit. We got a chance to look over at the USS Arizona Memorial and the Mighty Mo, before heading to Kualoa Ranch for the rest of our tour.
At Kualoa Ranch, we all separated into Kualoa’s tour buses and drove around part of the 4,000-acre ranch. We were taken to all the spots in the valley where various movies and television shows have shot iconic scenes, as well as several spots famous to “Five-0” viewers. One part of the tour was when we got a chance to visit the “heiau” built by the “Five-0” crew for the Halloween episode “Ka Iwi Kapu.”
The faux-sacred spot was built around a beautiful banyan tree and the rocks that made up the “heiau” walls were painted an eerie green. A heiau is a sacred temple built by Hawaiian kahuna to worship, to heal, and for war. Because it was a set and not an active heiau, fans took pictures and walked within its walls. Not everyone who takes the Kualoa movie tour get to see this “Hawaii Five-0” set, so for fans, it was a very special treat.
We also got to see the inside of a former World War II bunker that was the spot where McGarrett was tortured in North Korea by Wo Fat in “Ki‘ilua.” The “Five-0” crew really liked shooting in the bunker, as the walls were basically partitions and did not reach the bunker ceiling, so cameras could be set up to shoot into the room from above. We also saw the doorway where the team exits the bunker and brings McGarrett out to safety.
Once the Kualoa tour was done, we headed to the visitor center to enjoy traditional Hawaiian games and crafts, while we waited for the luau to start. Special guests Dennis Chun, who plays Sgt. Duke Lukela, Teilor Grubbs, who plays Gracie Williams, and Brian Yang, our favorite “geek god” Charlie Fong, joined us for a casual meet-and-greet. All the fans got to take pictures and have a little one-on-one time with each actor. Everyone was so impressed by Teilor’s poise and demeanor amongst a sea of adults. And Dennis Chun, the perfect gentleman, gave a little speech thanking the fans for their support of the show. Yang arrived in time to meet fans who had not attended his August Tweetup, and they flocked to him for pictures and autographs.
Before the food was served and the show started, we took some time to draw the winning “H50 ‘Ohana Quilt” ticket and update the group on our fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. We raised $3,085 for the organization, and Margaret Craig from Shawnee, Okla., won the quilt. Teilor Grubbs and Dennis Chun helped pick the winning ticket and Chun told the fans how proud they should be to “have supported such a great cause.”
During dinner fans were treated to a special show featuring traditional hula. I was so impressed by the dancers and the storytelling. The show at Kualoa is not like your typical hula show, with glittery hula skirts and mixed Polynesian-style dancing. Kualoa’s production focuses on the stories and legends of Kualoa, and was beautiful in its simplicity and sincerity.
After a very long day full of action and excitement, fans reboarded the “Hawaii Five-0 Fan Tour” bus and headed back to Waikiki. In the dark ride home, we told them spooky stories of Pele and Kamapua‘a, about not taking pork over the Pali, and about unseen riders who may unknowingly hitch a ride over the H-3. When we dropped them off at their hotel, many thanked us for a great day. Even though they are going to miss Sunset on the Beach on Sept. 23rd, after a weekend of making new friends, meeting several actors from their favorite show, and seeing where they film and sometimes play, their fan journey was absolutely complete.
Redux Side Note:
This week’s repeat was the a two-for-one with the “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Hawaii Five-0” crossover episodes, “Pāmake Loa” and “Touch of Death.” Both episodes aired on Tuesday, September 11, after “Hawaii Five-0” was pre-empted by the U.S. Open Tennis overrun.
This weekend there will be a special rebroadcast of “Ki‘ilua” on Saturday, Sept. 15, and a regular Monday night episode of “Ua Hala,” the season two ender. This sets us up for the season three premiere of “Lā o nā mākuahine” on Monday, Sept. 24th.