Take this tour to see locations featured on the opening credits of the original CBS TV series Hawaii Five-O. Most are on BOTH the original series starring Jack Lord and the reboot starring Alex O’Laughlin. What a different spin on touring Oahu and Honolulu.
Iolani Palace. 364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813. This is the original Five-O Headquarters. (The new headquarters is across the street at the Supreme Court). It is also the only royal palace located on United States soil. Tour through this American Florentine-style palace’s throne room, reception and dining room and envision the magnificent state dinners and balls held here. View the private living quarters of the royal family and listen to the tragic story of Liliuokalani’s imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom following the overthrow. On the basement level view the ancient regalia of Hawaiian royalty from swords and precious jewelry to the two golden crowns of the King and Queen. http://www.iolanipalace.org
Makapu’u Lighthouse. Makapuu Lighthouse Rd, Honolulu, HI 96825. Featured on multiple episodes of Hawaii Five-O and Magnum, P.I. Take the hike. The hike is 1.5 miles up a mountain, but it’s gradual and the path is paved. You can see Pele’s chair, some of Hawaii Kai, plenty of ocean and the Makapu’u Lighthouse. A midget lighthouse built on a cliff. Once you get to the top you have a panoramic view of the coast line. It really is unbelievable with how pretty the view is. The walk down is easy.
Royal Hawaiian Hotel. 2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815. Seen on the opening credits located in the center of Waikiki Beach. The opening of The Royal Hawaiian on February 1, 1927, ushered in a new era of luxurious resort travel to Hawai‘i. The resort was built with a price tag of $4 million and was completed in 18 months. The six-story, 400-room structure was fashioned in a Spanish-Moorish style, popular during the period and influenced by screen star Rudolph Valentino. At the grand opening’s black-tie gala celebration, members of the Honolulu Symphony entertained over 1,200 guests at the $10-a-plate event-of-the-year. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin described the newly opened Royal Hawaiian as “the first resort hostelry in America.” http://www.royal-hawaiian.com
Ilikai Hotel. 1777 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815. The Ilikai Hotel & Suites in Honolulu, Hawaii and its famed Waikiki Beach setting boast an illustrious history. Real estate tycoon Chinn Ho built the Ilikai Hotel & Suites in Honolulu to be Hawaii’s finest high-rise hotel in 1964. (Note the creator’s nod with character named “Chin Ho Kelly”). Soaring to 30 stories with a rooftop restaurant and stunning glass elevator, the Ilikai was a sensation in design and the work of the architect of Seattle’s Space Needle, John Graham. Perhaps the Ilikai’s strongest claim to fame was from its prominence in the television series “Hawaii Five-0.” During the opening credit the Ilikai’s luxurious penthouse is featured. http://www.ilikaihotel.com/
Diamond Head. Not only a symbol of Waikiki, but the true symbol of Hawaii. You can take the hike by driving up into the crater, parking and walking the trail to the top. Unsurpassed views of Waikiki. On the way in, pay attention to the tunnel which served as the backdrop to scenes in multiple episodes. Take water and a flashlight. Diamond Head, like the rest of the Honolulu Volcanics, is much younger than the main mass of the Koʻolau Mountain Range. While the Koʻolau Range is about 2.6 million years old, Diamond Head is estimated to be about 200,000 years old and inactive for 150,000 years. The eruption that built up Diamond Head was probably very brief, lasting no more than a few days. It was probably explosive, since when the cinder cone was originally formed, the sea level is thought to have been higher and the vent burst erupted over a coral reef. http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/
Chinatown; Hotel Street; Wo Fat Restaurant. 100 N Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96817. Nobody should visit Honolulu without a trip to Chinatown. Hotel Street in particular was where “all of the action” was during World War II, particularly when it comes to brothels where men would form lines around the block. Recently there as been a “cool resurgence” of the area due to trendy restaurants and bars. On the second floor at 100 N. Beretania Street was location of Wo Fat Restaurant. This restaurant is now closed, but the sign still remains. Nevertheless, the inspiration for the name of Steve McGarrett’s nemesis.
Aloha Tower. 1 Aloha Tower Drive, Honolulu, HI 96813. Aloha Tower was the tallest tallest structure in Hawaii when it was completed in 1926 at a cost of $190,000. Seen in the Hawaii Five-O opening credits, it is now the most recognized building in the state and second only to Diamond Head as Hawaii’s most famous landmark. Symbolizing Hawaii’s Aloha Spirit, Aloha Tower continues to function as the Harbor Master’s traffic control center for Honolulu Harbor and serves as a welcoming landmark for both cruise ships and container vessels. It is also a popular visitor attraction with elevator service to the tenth floor observation deck, boasting spectacular views of Diamond Head, Honolulu Harbor, Downtown Honolulu and the Koolau mountains. http://www.alohatower.com/
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 2177 Puowaina Dr, Honolulu, HI 96813. This is that big statue featured on the opening credits for both versions of Hawaii Five-O. The “Punchbowl” was formed some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago during the Honolulu period of secondary volcanic activity. A crater resulted from the ejection of hot lava through cracks in the old coral reefs which, at the time, extended to the foot of the Koolau Mountain Range. Although there are various translations of the Punchbowl’s Hawaiian name, “Puowaina,” the most common is “Hill of Sacrifice.” This translation closely relates to the history of the crater. The first known use was as an altar where Hawaiians offered human sacrifices to pagan gods and the killed violators of the many taboos. Later, during the reign of Kamehameha the Great, a battery of two cannons was mounted at the rim of the crater to salute distinguished arrivals and signify important occasions. Early in the 1880s, leasehold land on the slopes of the Punchbowl opened for settlement and in the 1930s, the crater was used as a rifle range for the Hawaii National Guard. Toward the end of World War II, tunnels were dug through the rim of the crater for the placement of shore batteries to guard Honolulu Harbor and the south edge of Pearl Harbor. http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/nmcp.asp
Kapiolani Bandstand. 2805 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815. Featured in many episodes, particularly, “Trouble in Mind” with guest star Nancy Wilson (Season 3, Episode 2). Located in Kapiolani Park at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, the Victorian-style Kapiolani Bandstand, which was originally built in the late 1890s, is Kapiolani Park’s stage for community entertainment and concerts. The nation’s only city-sponsored band, the Royal Hawaiian Band, performs free concerts on Sunday afternoon. Local newspapers list event information.
Diamond Head Road. This is the road that wraps around Diamond Head overlooking the surfers in the Atlantic. It is featured in almost every episode of Hawaii Five-O, whether just for a drive-by or the subject of a feature. Check out episodes of Magnum, P.I., and even movies such as Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii, and you will always see people driving the picturesque Diamond Head Road. It’s not a long road so in some film and TV appearances the water is on both sides of the road and the road is repeated for miles and miles!
Bonus Round: Kahala Mall Bus Stop. Detective Steve McGarrett, aka actor Jack Lord, is honored with a sculpted bust in the parking lot outside a Honolulu Macy’s. Though appearing somewhat out-of-place, the colorful leis around his neck prove he is still loved (as are all of Hawaii’s lei-ed statues).
The original TV show Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980) probably did more to promote America’s most remote state than could any travel ad budget. Actually, it was the 60 seconds of opening titles and music on the hour-long program that did the trick — to such a degree that the 2010 Hawaii Five-O series reboot was forced to stick with the tune or incur the wrath of humanity.
Bottom line to all of this: Go just about anywhere in Oahu, particularly in Waikiki and Honolulu and things will seem and feel familiar. Also, check out the Ala Wai Canal, University of Hawaii, and the territorial Building. If you are good at your Hawaii Five-O videography, you’ve been there before.
Email Smcgarrett@aol.com for more details.