Jurassic Park on Location: Understanding and Enjoying the Hawaiian Backdrop

hawaii

Jurassic Park is a truly classic sci-fi movie. Who can forget the stunning natural views and that terrifying T. Rex? The heart and soul of this movie, however, comes from its stunning, mystical scenery. Set primarily on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Niihau, Maui, and Kaua’i, the filming locations serve as the perfect backdrop for the action packed film.

The scenery, of course, served as a compelling reason for Stephen Spielberg and crew to use the islands as film locations. Hawaii’s breathtaking waterfalls and lush vegetation are an ideal setting for a movie about dinosaurs. After all, we all think of dinosaurs roaming a wild, uninhabited rainforest-like environment, and Hawaii provides just such a location.

Interestingly enough, however, the locations were not only chosen for the views, and were not the setting of the events in the movie. If that were the case, the movie would have been filmed in Costa Rica, where the plot supposedly took place. Instead, the Hawaiian islands were chosen because they offered a more stable, and accessible, location for filming.

In addition, they provided familiarity for Stephen Spielberg, who had worked there in the past and who was therefore familiar with the terrain and filming challenges. The island of Oahu served as a filming location for some scenes because of one of these filming challenges: A tropical storm that made filming on the original location of Kaua’i impossible. In fact, the only truly on location spot for the entire movie was Red Rock Canyon in Montana, where some dig scenes were supposed to have taken place in the movie.

Fortunately for fans of Jurassic Park, you can still visit the filming locations in Hawaii. These locations are truly stunning, with thriving vegetation, breathtaking mountains, and gorgeous trees, and beautiful waterfalls.  When visiting these sites, therefore, plan to have your breath taken away by unmatched beauty, and definitely bring your camera. What you saw in the movie was only a taste of the raw beauty you will encounter when visiting these filming locations in person.

Try not to get your hopes up too high, however, about actually seeing remnants of the film. In addition to a decided lack of dinosaurs, you will also not see much of the film sets left. For instance, the entry gates in the movie are only tall metal poles now, and the helicopter landing area isn’t even available for viewing except by plane.

While you can research your favorite scenes and arrange your own stops at their filming locations, you may find it easier, and more fun, to take a movie tour instead. These tours cover major filming sites not only for Jurassic Park, but also for many other movies. Whatever you decide, however, just make sure you take the time to really enjoy standing in the same spots that you have seen in the movie. Imagine yourself in the middle of a park full of dinosaurs, facing down that crazy Tyrannosaurus Rex, or participating in any of your favorite scenes. The movie will undoubtedly become more alive to you as you stand in the places where it was created and give you an even deeper appreciation for a film you already love.