The 60s, 70s and 80s saw a plethora of popular cop shows, from 1968’s Hawaii Five-O to 1980’s Magnum P.I. And now, thanks to the reboot trend, you needn’t look in your rear view to relive them. Among the most popular is the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, the long-running CBS show that has left countless Hawaii Five-0 Filming Locations in its wake. Based on the original show of the same name (well, almost the same – check out Hawaii Five-0 Facts to find out more), it’s a sleeker, sharper and cooler reimagining of the highly-skilled, Honolulu-based elite task force – even with the same cheese-tastic intro music.
While this easy-watch drama takes itself seriously (as it should), there’s no denying or defending just how deliciously-outlandish it can be – but then it’s all part of the charm. Hawaii Five-0 also boasts a ridiculously-good-looking cast, but its scenery sure does give them a run for their money. To track down all the show’s filming locations, though, you’d have to become a detective yourself. So to save you years of scouring Hawaii (instead, use that time to catch up on all eight seasons of the show), here are some of the most recognizable Hawaii Five-0 filming locations to date.
12 of the most recognizable Hawaii Five-0 filming locations to date
1. Ali’iolani Hale – Honolulu
First of all, where is the Hawaii 5-0 headquarters? Well, it would be easier to tell you which episodes this building hasn’t appeared in, but the historical Ali’iolani Hale serves only the face of the headquarters in the show. You might agree that its architecture is quite rich for a police precinct, add to that the statue of King Kamehameha outside, but that’s because it’s actually a museum and home of the Hawaii State Supreme Court. Be sure to get a picture of this iconic spot, and of the nearby Iolani Palace, too, which served as the headquarters in the original show.
2. Diamond Head – Honolulu
Located at the foot of Diamond Head Crater is Hawaii Film Studios. As the “home” of Hawaii Five-0 it has undoubtedly served more scenes than can be measured, but sadly there are no tours available. The studio was previously based in downtown Honolulu where it even served the original show fifty years ago (that’s “50”, by the way – not “5-0”, “5-O”, “five-0” or “five-O”). The Diamond Head Lookout, which has also appeared in the show, presents unbeatable views of Honolulu, making it a great place to do some Hawaii Five-0 filming location-spotting.
3. Waikiki – Honolulu
It’s fair to say that Waikiki is as much a regular on Hawaii Five-0 as most of its cast members. However, it would take forever to name all Hawaii Five-0 filming locations throughout the area, from several spots along Kalakaua Avenue all the way out to Waikiki Bay. And what a beautiful place Waikiki Bay is – except of course for the part where a corpse is seen by a young tourist aboard Atlantis Submarines Hawaii in season 1’s “Nalowale”! On a lighter note, they do spot a clownfish first, so you’re much more likely to “find Nemo” than anything ominous.
4. Hilton Hawaiian Village – Waikiki
Speaking of Waikiki, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has served many scenes in the show, particularly its Tropics Bar & Grill and its beautiful beachfront-stretch. There’s simply no more glamorous a spot than this hotel. In fact, if you’re a hard-core fan, you’ll be pleased to know that the hotel even offers a Hawaii Five-0 package! You can stay in the luxurious and iconic Rainbow Tower which has also appeared in the show numerous times, dine at Tropics Bar & Grill and more. It’s the ultimate Hawaii Five-0 experience – minus high-speed car chases and serial killers.
5. Ala Moana Beach Park – Honolulu
In season 1’s “Kai E’e”, Kono (Grace Park) is giving Danno (Scott Caan) a surfing lesson at Ala Moana Beach Park. This area has appeared a few times in the show, and is also home to the show’s infamous “Kame’s Shrimp Truck” where the team can often be seen eating lunch (only in the show, so put those binoculars away). Located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, the half-mile long beach might be man-made, but it’s a perfect place to escape the chaos of the city. You know – crowds, traffic, helicopter hijackings and explosive shoot-outs – that type of stuff.
6. Kualoa Ranch – Kaneohe, Oahu
Kualoa Ranch has served film and television since the 1950s, and in Hawaii Five-0 it plays just as many roles, with its broad green valleys and deep rainforests. With the show being based on Oahu, it’s easier and cheaper for the producers to stay local, which is why you’ll find that most jungle scenes – and even “non-Hawaii” scenes – are filmed here. Kualoa Ranch’s Premier Movie Sites Tour will also see you exploring the real WWII Bunker which featured in the opening of the pilot episode in which it doubled as a South Korean military bunker.
7. USS Missouri – Ford Island, Pearl Harbor
In season 1’s “Ho’apono”, the action takes place aboard the Battleship USS Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island, where a fugitive takes a group of tourists hostage. This isn’t the only time it has been seen onscreen, as it was used to fend off aliens in 2012’s sci-fi action thriller Battleship (Hawaii Five-0 suddenly seems quite realistic). The ship hasn’t moved under her own power for decades, but a tour on board this historical vessel where the Japanese surrendered during World War II is nothing short of a voyage back in time.
8. Pupukea – North Shore, Oahu
Season 1’s “Koʻolauloa” opens with an adrenalin-fuelled surfing contest on Oahu’s North Shore, when one of the pro-surfers is assassinated mid-surf! The bullet’s trajectory leads the team up to Pupukea Ridge, which serves as a fantastic viewpoint of the bay (something the episode confirms in its own morbid way…). Kevin Sorbo guest stars in this episode, who is no stranger to Hawaii having appeared in 2011’s Soul Surfer. Pupukea is found in the Ko’olauloa District and is indeed known for its surfing sites, as well as diving and snorkeling areas.
9. The Bayer Estate – Aina Haina, Honolulu
Ladies, brace yourselves, as Steve McGarrett’s house is real! Okay, so McGarrett – played by Alex O’Loughlin – doesn’t live here (he’s also not real – sorry), but the house has featured in the show so many times it’s now among the most iconic spots. Here in the real world, it’s a wedding and party venue, so unless you’ve booked a wedding here (no, not with O’Loughlin) you can’t go inside. But to drive through this idyllic neighborhood and see the house – while mourning for your onscreen-crush – consider this Hawaii Five-0 Specialty tour.
10. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – Punchbowl Crater, Honolulu
This picturesque national cemetery has featured several times in the show. It can be seen in the pilot episode for the funeral of McGarrett’s father John McGarrett (William Sadler), and has appeared many times since, from McGarrett’s visits to other funerals throughout the course of the show. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a memorial that honors those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and whether you’re a fan of Hawaii Five-0 or not, this site is a must-visit.
11. Nu’uanu Pali Lookout – Honolulu
Part of Ko’olau Mountain on Oahu, Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the island. In season 1’s “Palekaiko”, you’re taken up to the lookout itself as the team pursue a serial killer (who definitely isn’t going up there to do any kind of sightseeing), although the area is actually a stand-in for Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai. Assassinated surfers, serial killers in the wild – this show sure does know how to dampen what are otherwise beautiful spots!
12. Waimanalo – Honolulu
Found in the district of Ko’olaupoko, Waimanalo Beach is the longest sandy stretch on the island of Oahu. Many scenes from the show have been filmed around this area, but more recently, in season 7’s “Ka Laina Ma Ke One”, the team engage in a diplomatic stand-off here against U.S. Marshals who don’t have the jurisdiction to pursue a fugitive in the area.
If you’re suddenly feeling quite nervous about tracking down these Hawaii Five-0 filming locations, don’t worry – Hawaii isn’t at all dangerous like its onscreen counterpart. But despite the show’s outlandish portrayal of Hawaii, the state hasn’t done too badly from it. Since it aired in 2010, Hawaii Five-0 has played its part in boosting the Hawaiian economy, with countless businesses and several tourist destinations having appeared in the show, which has bolstered sales and guest attendance. Clearly viewers aren’t scared so easily!
Season 9 premieres on Friday September 28 at 9/8c on CBS, so keep your detective-eyes peeled for more stunning cast members – sorry, Hawaii Five-0 filming locations.
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.