50 First Dates is a 2004 romantic comedy that was filmed in Hawaii. The story takes place on the island of Oahu, so the audience is treated to some truly epic 50 First Dates filming locations. Here, Henry (Adam Sandler), a marine biologist who’s far more terrified of commitment than he is of sharks, meets the beautiful Lucy (Drew Barrymore) at the Hukilau Café – where he finds her eating waffles every single morning. But Lucy suffers from an ‘anterograde amnesia’, which means the entire memory of her day ‘resets’ after every night’s sleep – leading her to live the same day on repeat. This, of course, proves a challenge for Henry when he starts to fall in love with her.
This wasn’t the first time Sandler and Barrymore coupled up for the big screen, nor was it their last. 1998’s The Wedding Singer was an instant classic, while 2014’s Blended completed their anthological rom-com trilogy. Let it be said, though, that 50 First Dates is no classic, nor does it hold a candle to the pair’s first outing. However, with the film having been shot in Hawaii, it does boast a wealth of filming locations that are perhaps the most romantic element of the film. Let’s dive in…
Waikane – Kanehoe Bay – Oahu
There are many locations that make a number of appearances throughout the film. The first is Waikane at Kanehoe Bay, which serves as the setting for Lucy’s family home, the Whitmore residence. Some interior shots were filmed in Kualoa Ranch and LA, but the exterior ones, including the lush valley backdrop and the eastern coastal scenery are, of course, Hawaii. You’ll even see the small offshore rock formation Chinaman’s Hat from time to time, which has also appeared in Magnum P.I. You’ll see Waikane Pier too – seen in Lost – as it’s just a stone’s throw from the Whitmore residence. The pier is on private property, but it can be seen from the shoreline between Kaneohe Bay’s Waiahole and Kualoa.
Ka’a’awa Valley – Kualoa Ranch
Ka’a’awa Valley is more famously known as Jurassic Valley, and if you’re a fan of movies that are filmed in Hawaii, you’ll recognize those dramatic green mountains in the background from movies such as Jurassic Park, Kong: Skull Island, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jurassic World. You won’t find any prehistoric monsters this time around, though – only Adam Sandler. Henry uses the location to try to remind Lucy who he is (again and again) and win over her heart (again and again). Kualoa Ranch is, to no surprise, the best 50 First Dates filming location, as it showcases all the blockbusters filmed there.
Dillingham Ranch – Waialua
Dillingham Ranch is located on the North Shore of Oahu and has appeared in Jurassic Park III, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Lost and Hawaii Five-0, used mostly for major scenes involving planes, action sequences and dinosaurs. In 50 First Dates, however, it serves a flashback sequence in which Lucy and her father crash into a tree, which results in Lucy’s amnesia. But while the ranch appears only twice, it is pretty memorable, and the tree they crash into has since become known as the ‘50 First Dates tree’. The ranch offers horseback riding, surfing, parasailing and hiking opportunities.
Makapuu Lighthouse – Makapuu Point, Kaneohe
It won’t surprise you to learn that there’s a montage sequence in the film – it’s a must for any rom-com. This one sees Henry and Lucy share many “first kisses” at a number of different locations, one of which includes the historic Makapuu Point Lighthouse on the easternmost point of Oahu (which can also be seen in Magnum P.I.). You can reach it by hiking trail, and once at the top you’ll be overwhelmed with truly unbeatable ocean views as well as views of Makapuu and Waimanalo Bay. There are also whale-spotting opportunities here depending on the time of year.
Halona Blowhole – Hanauma Bay
Halona Blowhole is located just off Hanauma Bay at Halona Point. The blowhole sprays ocean water up to thirty feet in the air, making this a geological wonder and naturally a tourist hotspot. It’s also yet another location more recently seen in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but in 50 First Dates, it is, of course, used for more romantic purposes. First, when Henry is knocked unconscious while playing golf and dreams of Lucy, and again during the montage sequence later in the film. This rocky setting that’s constantly thrashed with ocean water is one of the more unique 50 First Dates filming locations.
Sea Life Park – Waimanalo
There might not be any dinosaurs in this film, but there’s plenty in the way of marine life such as penguins, dolphins and walruses. And you’ll be delighted to know that the Sea Life Park where Henry works in the film is as real as the animals, and can be found in Waimanalo, not too far from Makapuu Point. The sanctuary doesn’t just boast beautiful marine life, though – you can also enjoy the facility’s mountainous backdrop and oceanic foreground. Sea Life Park makes a few appearances in the film, however, interior shots of the park’s aquarium were filmed out of Six Flags in California.
50 First Dates isn’t the only romantic comedy to have been filmed in Hawaii – just check out our article on Forgetting Sarah Marshall. A rom-com might not seem like the kind of film to make the most out of a location’s more epic scenery, but 50 First Dates does a great job of not only putting Hawaii’s more intimate settings on full display, but its majestic ones too.
Dan is a freelance writer from the UK who works for a number of online publications. He’s also working on a science fiction novel, and believes the impression Jurassic Park made on him as a child – both the Spielberg film and the book by Michael Crichton – to be the source of his passion to write. He previously critiqued theatrical releases for his local radio station, while his blog ‘Curious Rookie’ remains his platform for sharing film, travel and book reviews. Dan has also visited some of the most iconic film locations around the world, and his favorite destination is the island of Kauai in Hawaii.