It is no surprise that the Pacific Islands have always made it to the most desirable film locations. After all, Hawaii has excellent islands, breathtaking landscapes, vast oceans, and rich Hawaiian heritage to share. With its fantastic weather, various movie productions picked the land of aloha for its film setting.
While many movies are filmed in Hawaii, below, you’ll find excellent films capturing different locations of Hawaii. Whether it’s a comedy, drama, or even an animated movie, you’ll find them all Hawaiian-inspired. So, grab your popcorn, and here are the 18 Best Hawaii Movies.
1. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
English 1h 51m IMDb
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Kristen Bell, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd
To get over his celebrity girlfriend after their five-year relationship, Peter Brenner seeks peace of mind on a Hawaiian adventure in Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort. But little did he know that the last person he wanted to see was also there.
A big surprise erupts when she runs into his ex-girlfriend on vacation with her new boyfriend. Featuring a bunch of comedy, romance, and drama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a film that would take you on a real getaway experience in Hawaii.
This movie’s filming started on April 2007, featuring the Turtle Bay Resort, North Shore of the Island of Oahu in Hawaii. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, Forgetting Sarah Marshall hit the box office theaters on April 18, 2008.
2. 50 First Dates (2004)
English 1h 39m IMDb
Director: Peter Segal
Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider
In 50 first dates, we find Henry Roth, a bachelor afraid of relationship commitments. He lived in a Hawaiian paradise with no-string attached relationships with many women.
But one day, all his apprehensions fade away when he meets a beautiful woman named Lucy. After this fateful event, Henry knew that Lucy was the one. However, the next day, the only woman she’s longing for fails to recognize him.
This breaking moment becomes the wake-up call for Henry to discover Lucy’s short-term memory loss. Funny but heartfelt, ’50 first dates’ is a charming movie set and filmed on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
3. The Descendants (2011)
English 1h 55m IMDb
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
Filmed in Honolulu, Hawaii, around Hanalei Bay, The Descendants follows the story of a Hawaiian Resident, Matt King (played by George Clooney). As the movie progresses, you’ll find the movie’s protagonist trapped in seemingly endless personal issues. His wife was comatose after a boating incident.
And his family pressure him to sell a 25,000-acre land on Kauai. Directed by Alexander Payne, The Descendants took notable home awards. It won Best Picture-Drama and Golden Globes for Best Actor.
4. Aloha (2015)
English 1h 45m IMDb
Director: Cameron Crowe
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone
Aloha follows the story of a celebrated military contractor as he goes back and reminisces to the place of his most significant career milestones. It’s none other than the US Space Program found in Honolulu, Hawaii. While staying there, the man reunited in a bittersweet meeting with his old flames, Tracy.
But this beautiful Air Force Captain, Allison Ng, must watch over him. Loaded with hotshot Hollywood stars casting Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, and Bill Murray, the production filmed this movie in Hawaii. It showcases the beautiful scenery of Oahu, Waimea Valley, and Kualoa Ranch.
5. Just Go With It (2011)
English 1h 57m IMDb
Director: Dennis Dugan
Stars: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker
On a fantastic trip to Hawaii, Just Go With it tells the tale of a plastic surgeon (starring Adam Sandler). This man convinces his loyal assistant to be his soon-to-be fake ex-wife. Being a playboy, Danny lied to every girl flings he had that he was already committed and married.
But one day, fate turns when Danny meets his ideal woman, Palmer. Things go out of control when Palmer discovers that he’s married. To maintain their relationship, he must ask his secretary to pose as his wife and that they’re getting a divorce.
Released on February 11, 2011, ‘Just Go With It is another Adam Sandler movie flick filmed on the islands of Kauai and Maui. You can find the primary location for the film’s Hawaiian part at Grand Wailea in Maui.
6. Soul Surfer (2011)
English 1h 52m IMDb
Director: Sean McNamara
Stars: AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt
Featuring an inspiring story of Christian Faith, Soul Surfer showcases the life of a thirteen-year-old, Bethany Hamilton. Described as a woman full of life, Bethany is a champion surfer.
But the worst scenario broke out, leaving her attacked by sharks resulting in a fatal injury. Losing her arm is the most devastating thing that can happen. But at the hospital, Bethany remained calm and clung to her faith in God.
Touching and heartfelt, Soul Surfer is a movie that touches the hearts of many. Based on a true story, Soul Surfer filming took place in Tunnels Beach, Kalalau Trail, and Hanalei Pier, all of which are in Hawaii.
7. From Here to Eternity (1953)
English 1h 58m IMDb
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr
Known as one of the best Pearl Harbor movies, From Here to Eternity travels back in time to a United States Army Base in 1941. This classic film follows the story of a private who has a hell life for refusing to do boxing and represents his unit’s wife.
A series of misfortunes arise when his commanding officer’s wife commits an extra-marital affair with the top aide. While the movie was set in the fateful events before the United States entered World War II, From Here to Eternity is a movie hailed as a memorable love story.
Shot on Halona Beach Cove and Diamond Head Oahu, Hawaii, this 1953 American film is a monumental awardee. The movie bagged eight Oscar awards, with twenty-five wins and nine nominations.
8. Mike and Dave (2016)
English 1h 38m IMDb
Director: Jake Szymanski
Stars: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick
Mike and Dave are nothing but two hard-partying, young, and adventurous brothers. Wild and outrageous, the two seem to always get out of control at family occasions.
Things get more exciting yet challenging when their sister, Jennie, announces her Hawaiian wedding. And the rest of the family insists that Mike and Dave get their respectable dates.
Soon enough, the two brothers find a seemingly decent and ordinary woman. Little to their knowledge, their dates are an uncontrollable duo thirsty for a wild party. Funny, light, and heartfelt, this film will take you on a breathtaking escapade at Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, Hawaii.
9. Finding Ohana (2021)
English 2h 3m IMDb
Director: Jude Weng
Stars: Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Lindsay Watson
Hitting the box office on January 9, 2021, Finding Ohana is a fun family adventure movie you should not miss. You can find the movie’s setting on a summer in a rural place in Oahu.
It tells the story of siblings who grow up in Brooklyn, New York. One day, the two find a mysterious journal, leading them to a long-lost treasure. Their summer is the best as they begin an epic adventure with their friends, restoring their Hawaiian heritage.
Featuring a story of family and friendship, Finding Ohana gives a positive message to its viewers. Once you watch the movie, you’ll find its filming location in Honolulu, Hawaii.
10. Aloha, Scooby-Doo! (2005)
English 1h 14m IMDb
Director: Tim Maltby
Stars: Casey Kasem(voice), Frank Welker(voice), Mindy Cohn(voice)
Aloha, Scooby-Doo is an animated film that features Hanahuna Bay in Hawaii. Directed by Tim Matby, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang flies to Hawaii to watch the Big Kahuna of Hanahuna Surfing Contest.
Later, the locals and the gang discover a vengeful and evil Wiki Tiki spirit with his demons dominating the place. And note, Hanahuna Bay, Hawaii, made its first-ever production appearance on Aloha, Scooby-Doo!
So, would you like a quick break and catch a glimpse of a Hawaiian-style animated movie? Aloha, Scooby-Doo is the way to go!
11. Jurassic World (2015)
English 2h 4m IMDb
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins
After two decades since Jurassic Park failed, Jurassic World, a modern park, sets again to open its door for business. Scientists and engineers work hard to study genetics and produce a new dinosaur breed. It’s none other than the Indominus Rex.
But everything went into a blur when things worsened in Jurassic World. Would the heroes manage to escape the island? While this film will not give you many hints on how to live in Hawaii, you will still have a good landscape view of the island.
You can find the film’s scenes in Hawaii, such as the Kualoa Ranch and the islands of Kauai and Oahu. And here’s a trivia. A particular waterfall in Kauai was named “Jurassic Park Falls’ after being featured in the movie.
12. The Haumana (2013)
English 1h 35m IMDb
Director: Keo Woolford
Stars: Tui Asau, Tauarii Nahalea-Marama, J.D. Tanuvasa
The Haumana follows the story of Johnny Kealoha as he strives to teach students for a class performance at Royal Hula Festival. While doing it, the protagonist finds himself at a cultural crossroads.
Will he sacrifice authentic Hawaii traditions to please the crowd? Directed by a Hawaiian native, Keo Woolford, The Haumana is one of the best award-winning. This locally produced film has gained international recognition.
Exploring Hawaiian cultural heritage and practices, the producers mainly shot the movie in Oahu, Hawaii.
13. Tropic Thunder (2008)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Ben Stiller
Stars: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.
Here’s another movie casting the leading funnyman, Ben Stiller. Starring Jack Black, Jeff Kahn, Anthony Ruvivar, and Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder is a movie flick featuring a Southeast Asian setting. But the truth is the productions filmed it on Kauai Island, Hawaii.
It follows the story of actors trying to portray soldiers’ lives during the Vietnam war. But its head-turning plot twist is they later find themselves in real danger that calls them to be actual soldiers.
Released on August 13, 2008, Tropic Thunder is a fantastic comedy you’ll love. You’ll find yourself amazed at how this film successfully brings out satire.
14. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
English 1h 25m IMDb
Director: Dean De, BloisChris Sanders
Stars: Daveigh Chase(voice), Chris Sanders(voice), Tia Carrere(voice)
Sleepy Hanapepe on Kauai’s Island inspires Lilo’s hometown in the Disney production Lilo & Stich. This animated film tells the narrative of an outcast alien who lands on Kauai Island. Later on, Lilo’s family accidentally adopts Stitch, an experimental alien, as their family puppy.
On top of its captivating plot, people hailed Lilo & stitch for its Hawaiian-born voice actors like Jason Scott Lee and Tia Carrere. So, suppose you like more of Hawaiian-style animated films more. In that case, you can start with Lilo & Stitch and Aloha, Scooby-Doo, as mentioned earlier.
15. Jumanji’s Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
English 1h 59m IMDb
Director: Jake Kasdan
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart
One day, four high-school kids find out about an old-video gamer. Soon enough, the mysterious game attracts and puts them inside a game’s jungle setting. The kids see themselves transforming into avatars.
Little did they know that they didn’t have to play Jumanji. They must give their all and overcome the game. To win the game and return to the real world, the squad must overcome the most challenging experience in life. Would they be stuck inside the Jumanji game? Or would they survive?
Released on December 20, 2017, this make-it-or-break-it film’s leading photography started in the year 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii, mainly on the Kualoa Ranch nature reserve.
16. Avatar (2009)
English 2h 42m IMDb
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
In the alien world of Navi, there are primitive but highly evolved creatures known as Navi. Because of their dangerous planet’s environment, these human hybrids, the Avatars, must connect to the human minds to gain freedom in Pandora.
Sam Worthington portrays the role of a paralyzed former marine, Jake Sully. He starts to regain his movement when he falls in love with a Navi woman, Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana). But as their bond and passion grow, Jake finds himself at a crossroads. He is in the middle of a fierce battle for survival in the world of Pandora.
Released in the United States box theater on December 18, 2009, Avatar finds its setting mainly in the rain forest of Kauai, Hamakua Coast, and Oahu, Hawaii.
17. North Shore (1987)
English 1h 36m IMDb
Director: William Phelps
Stars: Matt Adler, Nia Peeples, Gregory Harrison
After learning the dynamics of surfing using local wave tanks, Rick (starring Matt Adler), an Arizona resident, went to Hawaii and decided to try his luck there. At the onset, he got a rough patch when he realized that riding the ocean is different from waves back home.
Soon enough, he finds a mentor, Chandler (starring Gregory Harrison), and a friend, Kiani (starring Nia Peeples). Featuring Sunset Beach in Oahu, Hawaii, North is something you must watch if you want more of the fantastic landscape and sceneries of Hawaii.
18. George of the Jungle (1997)
English 1h 32m IMDb
Director: Sam Weisman
Stars: Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann, Thomas Haden Church
Finally, the last on our movie list is a film that both kids and adults will love. George of the Jungle centers on a man raised by apes in the jungle who later fall in love with a wealthy American heiress.
When he was a baby, George got into a plane accident, landing in a jungle. Later, a wise ape raised baby George into a fierce man of the jungle. One day, he rescued an American woman, Ursula Stanhope, who eventually captivated his heart.
While the film found its setting in African Jungles, the production shot the scenes in Hawaii.
Summary of the Best Hawaii Movies
Indeed, Hawaii’s beautiful locations are an inspiration for movie producers. You’ll find Hawaii’s natural beauty from animated pictures to family and action flicks.
So, are you ready for a Hawaiian-style movie night? Whether you like something different for your next movie marathon or seek to explore Hawaiian inspiration, you might enjoy and love these 18 Best Hawaii Movies.