Getting “Lost” on Oahu: Finding Locations from the TV Show

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”20872686″]

I had so much going on before I left for Hawaii—three feature stories that exceeded 3,000 words (one for Redbook, two for Southwest Airlines‘ Spirit magazine), plus a number of smaller assignments—that I didn’t do a lot of research for our trip before we left. But that’s the beauty of social media and smartphones, isn’t it? You can research as you go. In fact, it wasn’t until we were leaving the airport and driving toward the North Shore that it hit me: OMG, LOST was filmed here. (I know, I know, welcome to the party five years later, Kristin.) I never missed an episode of the show, so I’m not quite sure why that thought didn’t occur to me before. But that’s where the Internet comes in handy, because all it took was a little Googling for SVV and I to be able to do a self-guided tour of the filming locations around the island.

The first stop we just happened upon by chance. We’d picked up a brochure on the shrimp trucks around the North Shore and went in search of them. Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck wound up being just a few minutes east of our resort and was the first we stumbled upon. It also happens to be the very spot where Flashback Sawyer kills the man (“Fake Sawyer”) who allegedly stole his identity in the first season’s “Outlaws” episode.

Of course, there was the banyan tree we rode past on horseback at Turtle Bay. As many of you already guessed, this is where those crazy polar bear scenes of season 3 took place, as well as where Charlie was caught in a trap and dangled in the air. This is also where Jack, Charlie and Kate ran away from the Smoke Monster after finding the plane’s cockpit. Guests of Turtle Bay can wander the trail at leisure, though “outsiders” (let’s call them The Others for fun, shall we?) must pay a nominal fee.

At Dillingham Airfield, where our glider flight took off from, there was the fuselage storage (we didn’t bother driving out that far, as we were in a bit of a time crunch), as well as Mokule’ia Beach, otherwise known as a gorgeous, undeveloped plot of land on the North Shore, otherwise known as the site of the Oceanic 815 crash.

This beach was the filming location for much of the first season (Army Beach, Tiger Point, YMCA Camp Erdman, etc.) until the tides starting coming in at winter and covering much of the beach and set. It was closed to the public during filming. Fun fact: Obama was recently in this area visiting a childhood friend, which meant the whole area was closed off once more (and swarming with Secret Service agents and aides, no doubt).

The backdrop of the airfield, the valley inland from Mokule’ia Beach, is where the smoke monster lives and where Jack, Kate and company first saw it emerging from the rainforest. Here, SVV mimics the scene. Menacing, no?

On our way back to Honolulu, we stopped at Waimea Valley with the intention to hike out to the waterfall where Hurley and Kate land after leaving the island and coming back again, only to find not only was there a charge ($13 per person) but it was also a 45-minute trek each way. We really only wanted a picture—and while a picture may be worth a thousand words, it was not worth $26 and an hour and a half to us—so we walked around the grounds a bit then headed out. (I should clarify that the hike is meant to be gorgeous and we would have done it just for a little fun and exercise if we’d had a free day, but we had an existing date down in Honolulu with my pals Nancy and Greg, so we were on a tight schedule as always.)

Driving back down the Windward Coast was pretty much a LOST geek’s dream. There was Kualoa Ranch in Ka’a’awa Valley, which was the backdrop for many of the valley scenes, like when Hurley builds the golf course.

If you’re not a LOST fan, this might look familiar from Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young or a myriad of other movies filmed here. The ranch is private property, but if you book in advance (edited to add: one commenter said you can just drop in if they’re not busy or overbooked), you can go on a guided tour by horseback or ATV. In fact, Kualoa Ranch has the most popular movie tour in the world, drawing more visitors annually than even Universal Studios’ backlot tour. Sadly, I did not find all of this out until we were already there and it was too late!

We detoured briefly to Byodo-In Temple, aka “Korea,” to see where Jin popped the question to Sun.

Once back in the state capital, we went to the location where the church that hosted several scenes such as Charlie’s confession was supposed to be and found … nothing. There was a dilapidated apartment building at the address where Google Maps led us, but we circled the block several times and never found what we were looking for. So we stalked Hurley instead and did a “drive-by shooting” of the house on Hunakai Street in Kahala that he bought his mom after winning the lottery. SVV said I was creepy when I forced him to do this. Some call it stalking, I call it fangirl-dom. To each her own.

We could have probably spent our entire five days on the island tracking down LOST filming sites, as they were many. Some were accessible (like the Honolulu Convention Center, which doubled as the Sydney Airport); some were on private property (like the bamboo field where Jack dies at the end on Nuuanu Pali Drive within the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve).

Next time we’re back on Oahu, I’m booking myself on a full-blown LOST tour of the island and doing it the right way. (Yes, that really is a thing.) They take eight hours round trip, but I think it would be totally worth the time and cost, don’t you?

COMMENTS
  • May 19, 2011
    Meghan

    It’s too bad you missed Kualoa Ranch if you were really wanting to see it. Surprisingly enough, we waltzed right in when they opened one weekday morning and got onto their tours without any hassle or waiting – no advanced reservations. We did the movie tour and then a jeep tour through the “jungle.” The movie tour was neat, but I wouldn’t go back to do it. I honestly don’t remember much beyond the “footprints” they created for one of the Godzilla films, and the log the kids hid behind in Jurassic Park. They took us to a bunker which had a bunch of old movie posters and some other miscellaneous things.

    What we really enjoyed on Oahu was the Polynesian Cultural Center. Although run by BYU (obviously controversial), it provided a great day of semi-authentic cultural immersion into the different nearby islands. We had a fantastic tour leader (a BYU college student volunteer) who spent the entire day with us and made it super enjoyable. We actually purchased VIP packages so we could do everything in the PCC, and even returned for another half-day of fun because of the sheer amount of things to do and see there. Had we not had our 6-year-old son with us, we would not have ever gone (hence the reason it is probably not in your tour de Oahu), but it was easily one of the highlights of our trip! It was a little Disney-esque (overly peppy), but regardless, it was so fun to see the different cultures and hear different greetings all in one day. I encourage parents to visit with their kids! Our son still talks about Cousin EJ (our tour guide) and how much he learned that day. 🙂

    • May 19, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m sure we could have walked in and gotten on a tour if we’d really wanted to as it wasn’t crowded at all, but per the norm, we were in a time crunch! We only had two hours from that point to make it to Honolulu for drinks with our friends. Ditto to the Polynesian Cultural Center–we didn’t even hear about it until we were already leaving the North Shore to go back to the city and just didn’t have any time. But we heard such high praise about the place and definitely will add that to the to-do list for our next visit back to Oahu.

      • May 19, 2011
        Meghan

        Oh, that’s right, you were in a hurry. Well, all the more reason to go back for a “next time” trip! 🙂

  • May 19, 2011

    Woo! These are exciting and fun. 🙂

  • May 19, 2011
    JeJe

    As a former LOST fan… a big THANKS. This was really fabulous! (I’m reading the new shopaholic so I’ve replaced the worn-out “amazing” with Becky’s “fabulous”… just so you know!)

    • May 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Duly noted, Jeje =) Maybe you’ll let me borrow it when you’re done!

  • May 19, 2011

    Wow a full-fledged LOST tour of the island? Sign me up! 😉 Your photos are beautiful, and I loved how you geeked out at the various filing spots.

    • May 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Oh, you know it! We’re definitely not shy about being “those” tourists–at least not when it comes to LOST! =)

  • May 19, 2011

    OMG – LOST is both of ours all-time favorite show so I’m so excited that you did this. I can’t believe that everything — including the “Korea” bit was shot in Oahu. Amazing. All the more reason for me to get over to Oahu.

    • May 19, 2011
      Kristin

      I know! I didn’t realize that either until we got there. I guess logistically, being in the middle of the ocean and having such a large cast, it would have been difficult to go “on location” and film elsewhere just for a couple scenes here and there.

  • May 19, 2011

    Great! Now that you did the lost tour, can you finally tell me what that stupid cave of light was all about?

    • May 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Dude, I have NO idea. I sort of lost interest during the last few episodes as it just got a bit convoluted and ridiculous.. Still, I will remember LOST’s golden years (seasons 1-2, 4-5) and forget about the joke of a season that 6 was.

    • May 19, 2011
      SVV

      Agreed, stupid as all get out. I think it was supposed to represent the “spark” of light that quickens life within all of us. If it was destroyed we’d all cease to exist. The writer’s were REALLY stretching it out for that one.

  • May 19, 2011

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, but your pictures are pretty!

    (Also? SVV=not menacing. Tell him to get that smile off his face and we’ll talk. Right now he just looks like he’s playing airplane.)

    • May 19, 2011
      Kristin

      He might scare a ladybug. Maybe. The funny thing is I’ve trained him to smile: Most photos of him, he looks like he wants to kick your ass. You should see his license…and passport…and military ID.

    • May 19, 2011
      SVV

      That’s my “charm attack.” It’s similar to how koala’s look so cuddly but then ATTACK and rip your face off.

  • May 19, 2011

    Full-blown Lost tour? Sign me up! Love this. I actually skipped all the text to the photos the first time to make it sort of a game if I could point out which part of Lost it was from (Read: Lost nerd). Might be getting to Hawaii in the fall and adding this to the list.

    • May 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Well, since you’ll officially be a San Franciscan then, it’s really easy to do–you can fly direct to Honolulu from SFO, woohoo! Also, we like our fellow LOST nerds. Too bad you weren’t with us so we could all geek out together!

  • May 19, 2011

    OMG- Okay… so right before the final season Bob and I decided we needed to see what this whole LOST thing was all about- We literally went through 6 seasons in 3 months (amazing and awful, I know) We were totally addicted! I would love to do this tour… and shrimp bus?! Are you kidding me? Maybe two of my favorite things in one place. 🙂

  • May 22, 2011

    Absolutely love the shot of the tree! Some great scenery there 🙂

  • May 24, 2011

    OMGGGG, I am green with envy. I am absolutely obsessed with LOST–my husband and I have been rewatching it over the last few months and are almost done. I’m one of those dorks who used to listen to LOST podcasts when it was still on live TV and read about Easter eggs online. These pics are beautiful and make me want to go even more. So whenever I finally get to Hawaii, you bet I’m doing one of those tours!

  • May 28, 2011

    Wow, I had no idea that LOST was filmed in Hawaii! The island looks beautiful. I hope to visit one day, and possibly do some “stalking” too! It looks as if you were right on the set in some of those photos. Great shots! Looks like you had an amazing time!

  • May 24, 2012

    I love the beaches out by Dillingham airport, I lived on Oahu for three years and your photos bring back great memories. Thanks!

  • May 24, 2012

    Awww, you missed the tour around Kualoa Ranch? I was just finishing my posts on this place!
    Never mind, make sure you don’t forget to drop by the place when you are there the next time…it’s totally worth your time 😉

Leave a Comment

GET MY POSTS DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
+ Sign up and receive your free copy of my eBook