Are you dreaming of Hawaii? Maybe it’s your ideal vacation destination that you can’t wait to visit for the first time. Maybe you’ve already been, fell in love with the islands, and can’t wait to go back. Honestly, you don’t even need a good reason to be pining for Hawaii. It really is a paradise. But, until you can get to those enchanting islands, we have some movie recommendations for you!
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Check out these 5 movies to watch before visiting Hawaii. Each film is either based on Hawaii or was filmed in the Hawaiian islands. They’re sure to inspire some aloha in you!
2002 | Starring Chris Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers
Wait… isn’t that a cartoon? Yes! And it is totally set in Hawaii! Lilo & Stitch is the story of a badly-behaving alien who comes to live with an equally mischievous little girl and her sister. Hijinks ensue, badness levels are calculated, Elvis songs are played, and a wonderful, unorthodox family is formed. It makes me both laugh and cry.
Stitch lands on the island of Kauai and finds himself in Lilo’s hometown of Hanapepe. Though never mentioned in the movie, Hanapepe is the town that served as the inspiration for the movie. It’s a small, quaint, laid-back, friendly place. If you visit, look for the mural of Lilo & Stitch on the old movie theater and be sure to check out the swinging bridge! Find Lilo & Stitch on Amazon.
2. Jurassic Park and Jurassic World Movies
1993 | Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson
2015 and 2018 | Starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard
Jurassic Park, and the following “Jurassic” movies, tell the story of man bringing dinosaurs back from extinction (which is both amazing and terrifying), and what would happen if things went wrong when humans tried to keep the dinos captive (and use them for personal, greedy gain). Through the wonder and terror, you’ll see glimpses of beautiful scenery, thanks to filming in gorgeous Hawaii.
The feeling I got watching the original Jurassic Park and seeing the dinosaurs for the first time was one of complete awe and wonder. This is the same feeling I got when visiting Hawaii for the first time! The surroundings are so incredibly postcard-perfect that they stop looking real and the landscape will make you feel so small.
It all had a very jungle-y, Jurassic feel to it. And it should. The iconic scene of the helicopter landing at Jurassic Park was filmed on Kauai, as were the coastal images of “Isla Nublar,” which is actually the Napali Coast. Scenes from several of the movies were filmed at Oahu’s Kualoa Ranch, which offers movie tours to guests. Find Jurassic Park on Amazon.
3. Blue Hawaii
1961 | Starring Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury, Nancy Walters.
As you would expect from a musical romantic comedy starring “The King” himself, the plot of Blue Hawaii is a pretty simple one involving girls falling in love with the main character, Chadwick (Presley), much to the dislike of his girlfriend. There is, of course, a happy ending…and lots of songs! The best include “Blue Hawaii,” “Aloha ‘Oe,” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” all sung by Elvis Presley.
The movie showcases Hawaii beautifully, having filmed at Waikiki Beach, Mount Tantalus, Diamond Head Crater, Hanauma Bay, and Kauai’s Coco Palms Resort (which, according to Wikipedia, has been abandoned since 1992’s Hurricane Iniki). Find Blue Hawaii on Amazon.
4. Pearl Harbor
2001| Starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Colm Feore, and Alec Baldwin.
This romantic war drama is based on the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, which occurred on December 7, 1941 during WWII. It’s a twisting and turning story of both brotherly and romantic love, and trying to hold relationships together during wartime.
This film will give viewers an idea of what that attack at Pearl Harbor was like. Pearl Harbor is now open as a National Memorial on the island of Oahu, where visitors can pay respects to those that lost their lives. Some scenes of the movie were filmed nearby at Kualoa Ranch. Find Pearl Harbor on Amazon.
See Related: In Remembrance: Photos of Pearl Harbor
2008 | Starring Jason Segal, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand.
This romantic comedy (probably should say raunchy romantic comedy) tells the story of Peter (Segal), who goes to Hawaii to try to get over his breakup with Sarah (Bell). He simultaneously meets a beautiful hotel receptionist (Kunis) and runs into Sarah and her new boyfriend (Brand) while checking into his hotel.
If you’ve dreamed of staying in a suite at a gorgeous hotel in Hawaii, Forgetting Sarah Marshall will give you a glimpse of what that’s like. It was filmed at the Turtle Bay Hotel on Oahu. Find Forgetting Sarah Marshall on Amazon.
2004 | Starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore
Henry Roth (Sandler) is a veterinarian who isn’t looking for a serious relationship but ends up falling head over heels with a woman (Barrymore) who can’t remember who he is for more than 24 hours. Lucy suffers from a (fictitious) memory problem after a car accident that prevents her from remembering anything when she wakes up, thus deleting all memories of the previous day’s events. Basically, Henry has to get Lucy to fall in love with him every single day.
Most of 50 First Dates was shot on the island of Oahu, one being the popular filming location Kualoa Ranch. If you’re a movie buff or just love to see where movies were made, definitely check out the movie tour at Kualoa Ranch. We highly recommend it! Find 50 First Dates on Amazon.
See Related: Getting a Little “LOST” in Hawaii
You may have noticed that Oahu’s Kualoa Ranch popped up a good bit on this list. It’s a popular filming location in Hawaii, and they do offer a movie tour to visitors. It’s a lot of fun, and you’ll see lots of locations that you recognize. Some of the movies filmed there include Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, 50 First Dates, Mighty Joe Young, Blue Hawaii, and the TV series LOST.
The landscape in Hawaii is amazing, so it’s easy to see why so many films have been made there. We hope this list of movies inspires you to visit Hawaii, teaches you something you didn’t know about the islands before, or just satisfies that wanderlust until you can get back to the islands of aloha.
Want more travel inspiration? Check out our Inspiration page for more books and movies to fuel that wanderlust!
DISCLOSURE: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that (at no extra cost to you) we earn commission when you make a purchase or sign up for a service.
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What do you think of these movies? Do you have another favorite that showcases Hawaii? Do you like to watch movies for travel inspiration? Will you be watching any of these soon? Have you been to any of these locations? We’d love to hear from you, so leave us a message in the comments below!