May 18

On Location in Kauai, Hawaii


Q. What do the films ‘Raider’s of the Lost Ark’, ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Avatar’ have in common?

A. Aside from having highly whistle-able theme tunes (well, maybe not Avatar…), they were all filmed in part on the island of Kauai – the ‘Garden Island’ of Hawaii.

Na Pali Coast Kauai Hawaii


Having finally managed to prize myself away from the stunning, if slightly more tourist-trodden Hawaiian islands of Maui and ‘The Big Island’, I had decided that my next port of call would be the State’s fourth largest island: Kauai (rhymes with ‘Hawaii’), located to the North-West of the archipelago. Aware of its reputation as a quieter spot, perhaps more suited to a couple on a romantic getaway, I was nevertheless intrigued by the suggestion that it offers some of Hawaii’s most stunning scenery and the fact that it is so often the go-to location for Hollywood directors seeking a paradisiacal or even other-worldly backdrop.

It soon becomes obvious why the Spielbergs, Camerons and their pretenders flock here, and it is not too long before you imagine yourself starring in your own personal movie as you trek through the Kealia Forest Reserve, stroll along Poipu Beach, or take a boat ride to an otherwise inaccessible cove. There is enough here to keep any wannabe stuntmen happy too, with extreme sports such as powered hang-gliding and off-road quad-biking available, along with unforgettable diving or surfing experiences in the island’s crystal clear waters.

Waipolo Beach Kauai

My personal highlight of the island had to be the Waimea Canyon, which rivals the Grand Canyon in its dramatic beauty. Measuring 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,500 feet deep, the canyon is a photographer’s (or indeed cinematographer’s) dream – get there at first-light for the best shots. There are a number of hiking trails that pass straight through the gorge, and it is even possible to camp or stay over in a cabin for those who crave more than just a day trip.

It would be a travesty for me to end this article without briefly mentioning the sumptuous local Hawaiian food which I was lucky enough to sample during my visit. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my Loco Moco – it sounded like some sort of pretentious coffee someone would order in Starbucks to me, but my ultra-friendly waiter assured me it was a good lunchtime choice. Basically consisting of a hamburger patty and two scoops of rice covered in gravy and topped off with a fried egg, it is unlikely to feature on any Michelin Star menus any time soon, but somehow all of the flavours compliment each other perfectly – washed down with a local Primo beer of course.

kauai bay

Returning to the theme that began this article, the tag-line to 1993’s ‘Jurassic Park’ was “An Adventure 65 Million Years in the Making “. Well, not quite 65 million, but as Hawaii’s oldest island in geological terms, Kauai has been 28 million years in the making, and with its irresistible combination of secluded beaches, lush vegetation, dramatic landscapes and delicious local cuisine, why not make it the setting for your next adventure?

Click on photos to view in full size!

Author Bio: James Rathmell

James Rathmell is a Geography graduate currently working in Manchester as a Transport Planner. He can often be found city-hopping across Europe or gigging with his band at a venue near you.

Some of the links in this post might be making us some money, however we would not include them if we didn’t think they can benefit travelers.

[Photo credit: Na Pali coast, howardignatius@Flickr]



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  1. I saw a feature at NatGeo (or was it Discovery Channel?) about Hawaii – how the islands came about, its inhabitants, its climates, how it could vanish, etc. Never been to Hawaii but I think it’s one of the must-see islands in the world.

  2. Hawaii is one of the best places I’ve ever been to. i love windsurfing and Hawaii is perfect for that, but leaving it aside is a magnificent travel destination. The pictures speak for themselves.

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