For Movie Buffs, Kauai Tour Guide Delivers the Reel Thing


By Tony Bartlett

Reed Travel Features

LIHUE -- Bob Jasper stopped the tour van at a vacant lot at Kapaa on Kauai's east coast and slipped in a video of "Jurassic Park." The scene: San Jose, Costa Rica. Kapaa, an old plantation town, was transformed into a colorful Latin America setting. It was here that the movie's traitorous computer nerd (played by Wayne Knight) took the shaving cream container with the false bottom for the stolen dinosaur embryos."Now let me show you the dinosaur bones," Jasper said with a straight face. We walked across the lot, heavy highway traffic on one side, the ocean on the other, to inspect a bunch of bones in a shallow pit. They were ceramic, part of the floor decor of a short-lived eatery that had capitalized on the Jurassic Park name without permission.

Kauai doubled for South Sea islands (1958's "South Pacific" is best known) and Vietnam ("Flight of the Intruder," 1991, and "Uncommon Valor," 1983). It was the rugged, mountainous terrain in the 1976 version of "King Kong" and provided African jungle for the village scene in 1994's "Outbreak." More than 50 movies have been filmed on the Garden Island. Some used more than a dozen locations, so you can't go far on this 550-square-mile island without bumping into what was once a part of Hollywood fantasy.

Jasper, who moved to Kauai from California a decade ago, has made it easier to visit those sites by launching Hawaii Movie Tours last fall. The tour begins at his family's exotic bird store near the Kauai Marriott. It lasts from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., taking in the 30-mile coastal highway from Lihue north to Hanalei and back. Throughout the excursion, Jasper pumps out movie trivia, sporadically delving into his front-seat video library to show a clip before pointing out the real thing.

The first stop was the Menehune Fishponds outside Lihue, one of Hawaii's scenic wonders. Look down and you see where Indiana Jones escaped by seaplane ("Raiders of the Lost Ark," 1981). We drove around Nawiliwili Harbor, Lihue's port, where Esther Williams and Howard Keel frolicked in "Pagan Love Song," then passed the Marriott and Kalapaki Beach, where sailors put on a review in "South Pacific." Driving down to Hanamaulu, a beach north of Lihue, we watched a scene from "Donovan's Reef," John Ford's last movie, made in 1962 with John Wayne and Lee Marvin.

Passing Coco Palms Resort in the Wailua area, Jasper showed us the beach where Frank Sinatra almost drowned while filming "None but the Brave" (1964). After our Kapaa stop, we watched a music video -- Paula Abdul singing by a waterfall -- then saw the waterfall in the distance while crossing the Anahola Bridge. "Paula Abdul was never here. Hollywood magic," Jasper said. We stopped to view a peak in the Anahola Mountains that provided opening images in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Next stop was Moloaa Bay, the location for the "Gilligan's Island" pilot in 1963.

Jasper is obviously a Gilligan's fan. By the time we reach the bay, we've watched the black-and-white pilot for what seems ages. Jasper pointed out an outrigger canoe fronting a Moloaa beach home that we saw in a "Honeymoon in Vegas" clip. Tommy (James Caan) wooed Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) in that canoe in the 1991 movie. Then it is on to Anini Beach. There we stared at the multimillion-dollar house that was Tommy's vacation home, and we also saw the former home of Sylvester Stallone.

The land tour is priced at $85 per person and includes a meal. Hawaii Movie Tours also offers an eight-hour deluxe tour for $245 that includes two meals, a 30-minute helicopter ride and a two-hour ocean cruise. Both tours are commissionable at 20%. To make reservations, call the firm at (800) 628-8432.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI