The Jurassic Park franchise will forever be synonymous with Hawaii. It’s unlikely the next movie will return here for filming, though, considering that 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom blew Isla Nublar to smithereens. But there’s always the second island, Isla Sorna, where both The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III are set. The former included shoots at the Na Pali Coast and Kipu Beach on Kauai but was predominantly filmed in California’s redwood forests. Jurassic Park III filming locations, on the other hand, can be discovered throughout Hawaii.
The “threequel” sees Sam Neill return to the fold as the reluctant, fan-favorite Dr. Alan Grant, who’s taken to the second island against his will by a family with a hidden agenda. It soon transpires that they’re looking for their son Eric who has been lost on the island – also known as “Site B” – for eight weeks after parasailing near the coast. The team must survive a “super predator” in the form of a spinosaurus, relentless raptors and terrifying pteranadons, as they attempt to reach the coast to escape.
North Coast, Molokai
The film opens with Eric and his stepfather Ben parasailing along the misty coast of Isla Sorna where they hope to see dinosaurs. But the crew on the boat below to which they’re tethered are killed by an unseen dinosaur. When Eric and Ben cut themselves free, they drift towards the island where they’re greeted with deep rugged valleys. This is actually the northern coast of Molokai as seen in 1999’s Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (which also stars Sam Neill). The Kalaupapa NPS and Settlement are even credited in the film’s acknowledgements.
Dillingham Airfield, Mokuleia, Oahu
You might have seen this landing strip in TV series Lost, but in Jurassic Park III it’s where the team of humans try to outrun – or outfly – the gigantic spinosaurus, just moments after touching down on the strip to look for Eric (with a megaphone of all things…). Their luck runs out when the deadly dinosaur hunts down their plane wreck in the jungle, leaving them two men short. Dillingham Airfield is for public and military use and is located on the North Shore of Oahu. While you won’t be able to parasail here you can skydive and feel like a pteranadon yourself!
Jurassic Kahili Ranch, Kilauea, Kauai
You’ll recall this ranch from the original film when dinosaurs are seen grazing in lush green meadows. In fact, this is where most Jurassic Park III filming locations are found – in particular the jungle scenes. However, the filmmakers built a soundstage-replica to host the film’s stunts and effects work, which intercuts seamlessly with real Hawaii jungle throughout the film. Another scene filmed at the ranch is when the characters are caught in a stampede (the DVD’s behind-the-scenes feature shows hilarious footage of the actors running from nothing).
Puu Ka Ele Reservoir, Jurassic Kahili Ranch
There are some more identifiable Jurassic Kahili Ranch scenes in Jurassic Park III, though. These come in the form of Puu Ka Ele Reservoir (the lake you see in the beginning of the original film). Firstly, when the plane arrives at Isla Sorna there’s a beautiful overhead shot of a herd of herbivores and of mountains and valleys beyond. It appears again when Grant and the others pass by brachiosaurs, stegosaurs and ankylosaurs on a sun-bathed riverbank. Sadly the ranch isn’t open to the public, but there aren’t any dinosaurs in there anyway. Or are there..?
Wailua River, Kauai
When the characters board an abandoned barge they head downriver towards the coast. This river is known as nothing more than the “Site B River” on screen, but it’s actually Wailua River, whose wider area was also used in 2008’s Tropic Thunder. Naturally, things don’t go so well for the humans in Jurassic Park III as the spinosaurus soon catches up with them and attacks the boat, violently plunging it into the rain-battered river. However, this scene in particular was shot inside a large water tank as the actors all ended up being submerged by the dinosaur, too.
Pilaa Beach, Kauai
When Grant and the other survivors manage to outwit the persistent raptors at the end of the movie, they arrive at a beach where they’re rescued by the Navy and the Marines. This is the beautiful Pilaa Beach on Kauai’s northeast shore, home to some truly striking scenery. Extreme caution should be exercised when visiting, though, as it’s not easily accessible and the rocky seafloor and turbulent waters make it hazardous for swimming. But at least there aren’t any dinosaurs to worry about – although the film never does explain what eats those boatmen…
One of the first things you’ll notice about Jurassic Park III is that the very look and feel of Sorna’s jungle is inexplicably different than when it first appeared in 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (which occupies a more open woodland setting). This time we’re invited into a more claustrophobic one, with curtains of swinging vines, carpets of twisting tree roots and other creeping jungle tendrils. After all, director Joe Johnston wanted the jungle to look older, rotten, swampier, grungier and more “primordial”.
This inconsistency remains a bone of contention for many fans, though, as does the film’s somewhat choppy script. The critically and financially underwhelming third entry would fossilize the franchise for the next fourteen years as a result, but in 2015 Jurassic World excavated it from an otherwise certain extinction. However, the truth is that Jurassic Park III is an entertaining thrill ride that deserves to be revisited. And whether you’re a fan or not, unearthing these Jurassic Park III filming locations is an adventure in its own right.
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.