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?