One of the many reasons fans love “Hawaii Five-0,” besides getting to see their favorite actors in action, is because they also love seeing Hawaii fill their screens each week. Hawaii has often been called one of the main characters of the show, as the storylines and character arcs are often tied to the culture and history of the 50th state.
Executive producer and showrunner Peter Lenkov told me in 2013 that filming on location in Hawaii and incorporating Hawaiian culture and language was very important to the cast and crew.
“Having the show set and shot in Hawaii is key to our authenticity,” he said.
More than just keeping the show real, Hawaii adds beauty that cannot be replicated. No other show can boast the same beautiful scenery, ocean views or iconic landscapes. While other television shows are set and shot in notable cities, none really focus on their background as much as “Hawaii Five-0.”
Even something as simple as McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) racing to a crime scene will include a shot catching their Camaro as it curves past Makapuʻu, or perhaps it’s Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) taking showers on Waikīkī Beach. Hawaii plays a part that is unique.
This summer I was able to revisit many of the places where the show films on a regular basis. I also wrote about island filming sites a few years ago. This week I want to focus on specific spots that not only help identify Hawaii, but are iconic places that set “Hawaii Five-0” apart.
THE BAYER ESTATE
This historic home situated along the coastline of East Honolulu is definitely one place in Hawaii many fans can readily identify. From classic white adirondack chairs set on a green lawn to beautiful shade trees that encircle the property and a second floor deck that looks out into a calm Pacific, The Bayer Estate is a perfect home for a fictional family that not only needs privacy, but also a sense of tranquility and peacefulness.
McGarrett and his ʻohana have called this property their home since the start of the show, and even though the house represents both happy and sad moments in McGarrett’s life, fans will probably call The Bayer Estate “McG’s house” long after the show ends.
ALI’IOLANI HALE AND KING KAMEHAMEHA
In reality, the building that represents the headquarters of the Five-0 team was supposed to be the first royal palace for the Hawaiian Kingdom. So if Five-0 headquarters is called The Palace on the show, that is not too far from the truth.
Aliʻiōlani Hale was supposed to have been the palace of King Kamehameha V, Lot Kapuāiwa, until he realized the kingdom needed a proper government building to establish its legitimacy.
Of course, references to The Palace could also be seen as an homage to the original “Hawaii Five-O.” Jack Lord’s McGarrett and his crew had their headquarters in the actual royal palace of the monarchy, ‘Iolani Palace, which is situated directly across the street from the modern Five-0 headquarters.
We also cannot forget the great statue that is on the lawn in front of Aliʻiōlani Hale, which is as iconic as Diamond Head and Waikīkī Beach. The statue represents a great king who united the islands and created the modern Hawaiian monarchy that lasted until the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.
We see the Kamehameha statue each week in the opening credits of “Hawaii Five-0” as well as when one of the Five-0 team heads into headquarters. Having your picture taken in front of the statue and Aliʻiōlani Hale is a prerequisite for any true “Five-0” fan.
THE USS ARIZONA AND USS MISSOURI MEMORIALS
Pearl Harbor is not only a place that identifies Hawaii, but also holds a sacred place in the history of the McGarrett family. McGarrett is a US Navy commander and a former Navy SEAL; his father, John, (William Sadler) also served in the Navy and fought in Vietnam before joining the Honolulu Police Department; and his grandfather, Steven, died on the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941.
The show has filmed several meaningful episodes aboard the USS Missouri Memorial as well as on Ford Island. In 2013, “Hawaii Five-0” filmed an homage to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the aftermath of the surprise attack on the Japanese community in Hawaii. The Pearl Harbor episode not only showed a short reenactment of the attack, it also highlighted the story of the interment of the Japanese American community here in Hawaii.
While the show has yet to actually film at the USS Arizona Memorial, it often shows the iconic floating white bridge in opening scenes or when McGarrett and crew are headed to Pearl Harbor as an establishing shot.
NATIONAL MEMORIAL CEMETERY OF THE PACIFIC
Fans identify this iconic cemetery by the image of Lady Columbia from the opening credits of both the classic and modern versions of “Hawaii Five-0,” as well as the place where John McGarrett is buried. The Lady Columbia statue is at the top of the staircase in the Court of Honor, which is the focal point of the cemetery.
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is referred to as Punchbowl due to its location in Punchbowl Crater on Oʻahu. “Hawaii Five-0” has filmed there several times over the last five seasons, most notably for the funeral of Gov. Jameson in season two, and often when McGarrett and his sister pay their respects at their father’s grave.
McGarrett also met Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) there when White wanted to reveal a secret without prying eyes and ears. As much as the cemetery is famous, like all places that honor the dead, it is often empty of the living, making it a perfect spot for secret meetings, as well as shooting a television show.
REDUX SIDE NOTE:
The countdown has begun to Sunset on the Beach on Sept. 12. The Red Carpet event starts at 6 p.m. and the world premiere of “Mai Hoʻoni i ka Wai Lana Mālie” will screen at 7 p.m. Fans will also be treated to a special concert immediately following the premiere by John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, who wrote and performed “All For One” for the 100th episode of “Hawaii Five-0.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.