Isla Nublar, the dinosaur-teeming land from the Jurassic Park series of films, may only exist on the silver screen, but its exotic charm and wonder are a reality in the Hawaiian Islands. The islands of Oahu and Kauai have served as the key locations necessary to bring the prehistoric creatures to life since the series’ first movie debuted in 1993, and this summer’s box office record-setting fourth installment, Jurassic World, is no exception. With two-thirds of the Hawaii location days for the movie spent on Oahu, visitors can now have a true “Jurassic” moment with a selection of experiences that bring the movie to life, and give a taste of Oahu’s Hollywood-heritage.
The visionaries behind blockbuster films have long considered Oahu a cinematic gem, as filmmakers can pan the lens from exotic natural beauty to metropolitan sophistication, all within a fraction of a day’s commute. In addition to the Jurassic Park series, Oahu has served as the location for numerous TV and movie projects including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Godzilla, Battleship, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Soul Surfer, Big Eyes, Hawaii Five-0, LOST, the Oscar-winning film The Descendants and director Cameron Crowe’s newly released Aloha. “The most skilled filmmakers in the business are choosing Oahu as their location, and what a privilege that is,” said Walea Constantinau, film commissioner with the Honolulu Film Office. “These men and women seek out the beautiful and the dramatic, and we feel honored that they would choose the splendid scenery of Oahu for their projects,” she added.
Travelers are fascinated when they can immerse themselves in the location of their favorite films. “With the release of Jurassic World, visitors have the opportunity to connect the wonder of the movie with a real-world experience on Oahu and Kauai,” said Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, senior director of sales & marketing with the Oahu Visitors Bureau. “The variety of these experiences are sure to satisfy any traveler, from the adventurous to the leisurely,” she added.
Jurassic Experiences on Oahu
Known as “Hawaii’s Movie Ranch,” the verdant landscape of Kualoa Ranch has long made it a favorite, and the area was featured extensively in Jurassic World. Visitors who really want a sense of being in the land of the Jurassic can tour Kaaawa Valley by ATV, horseback or bus via the Hollywood Movie Sites Tour. Visitors can learn why this locale has attracted generations of filmmakers, and what makes this area significant in Hawaiian culture. www.kualoa.com
Movie-goers may recall the dinosaur petting zoo in Jurassic World, which was shot at the Honolulu Zoo. Centrally and conveniently located in Waikiki, the Honolulu Zoo is the 42-acre home to 905 different animals from the tropics including komodo dragons, primates, birds, reptiles, amphibians and a variety of African animals. www.honoluluzoo.org
Some of the main hotel interiors from Jurassic World happens to be the state’s premier meeting venue, the Hawaii Convention Center. Featuring the latest technology combined with an authentic Hawaiian ambience, visitors can check out the various high-caliber festivals and events that occur there, or simply stop by to admire its shimmering glass architecture. www.meethawaii.com/hawaii-convention-center.aspx
The Makai Research Pier starred as the gateway receiving visitors to the massive park in Jurassic World. In reality, the pier is home to the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, but also serves as a nice stopping point on a scenic drive through the southeast corner of Oahu. While in the area, visitors should be sure to take in the views Makapuu beach and may even wish to explore the Makapuu Lighthouse hike.
Some of Windward Oahu’s jungle-like scenery were immortalized in the movie, and fans can take in a similar landscape at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden. Rightfully named “a peaceful refuge,” Hoomaluhia is blanketed in exotic flora from the Philippines, Malaysia, Tropical America, Melanesia, Hawaii, Polynesia, Africa, India and Sri Lanka. Spend a day there hiking, try your hand at catch and release fishing in the pond, or apply for a campsite to spend the evening. www.honolulu.gov/parks/hbg.html
There perhaps isn’t a more breathtaking way to experience Oahu than from above. Travelers can relive those stunning aerial shots from the Jurassic films by boarding one of the many helicopter tours on Oahu provided by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (www.bluehawaiian.com), Paradise Helicopters (www.paradisecopters.com), and Makani Kai Helicopters (www.makanikai.com).
Movie fans may not be able to get behind the wheel of the quintessential Jurassic Park jeep, but KOS Tours‘ Hummer-propelled off-road adventures provide the next best thing. Combining nature, history and iconic movie sites, this is a truly one-of-a-kind experience. www.hummertourshawaii.com
Step back in time to a place steeped in 700 years of Native Hawaiian history at Waimea Valley. Visitors can stroll through a world-class botanical garden, tour ancient Hawaiian archaeological sites, participate in cultural activities and stand in awe of the 45-foot Waihi Waterfall. www.waimeavalley.net
Slotted between the lush mountain ridges of Manoa Valley stands the 100-foot plus Manoa Falls. Visitors can hike along the well-marked Manoa Falls Trail weaving through a grove of eucalyptus trees, bamboo canopies and a rainforest of native flora, eventually ending at this tranquil waterfall.
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