There’s something strange afoot on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Something on the island is calling to Hollywood’s filmmakers, luring them to its shores in droves. The phenomenon goes well beyond the Jurassic Park series, all of which have been filmed in part on Hawaii’s “Garden Isle.” In fact, Kauai may have been calling to us for much, much longer than we realize.
The first film shot on Kauai was 1934’s White Heat, a film literally about the dangerous allure of the island and her people. Since then, more than 75 film and TV productions have made the pilgrimage to Kauai’s sands. This island calls to us. Kipu Kai Beach is the shore of Neverland in Hook. The Kalalau Valley is King Kong’s Skull Island. These shores are where film’s stranger tides have seen fit to shipwreck both Jack Sparrow and the S. S. Minnow. It is a land of undiscovered beauty and unnamed dangers.
To unearth the secrets of Kauai’s siren call, we must first travel into its past (as we did in 2002’s The Time Machine). The first European to set foot on Kauai was Captain Cook in 1778. This marked the western discovery of what Cook dubbed The Sandwich Isles, but even as he introduced the globe to Kauai, the island itself introduced its mysticism to Cook. Locals told the intrepid explorer tales of ancient, diminutive people named the Menehune. Talented engineers, the aqueducts and fish ponds attributed to these mythical people can still be visited today.
Kauai is both the oldest and lushest of the Hawaiian Islands. Its craggy cliffs and teeming rainforest truly hearken back to a world lost to modern times. Perhaps that’s why so many of our movie monsters have resided there. Then again, tales of the shape-shifting and cannibalistic demi-god Akua-pehu-ale were being told on Kauai long before Hollywood arrived. If you go there, remember that this island is equal parts Blue Hawaii and Jurassic World. Have fun, but beware, for you are not the first to be lured to these ancient shores.
What other places around the world inspire in you a mix of fear and awe? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!