In the heart-pounding series premiere of ABC’s blockbuster hit Lost, Dr. Jack Shephard begins the episode by darting from victim to victim on a desert island beach, running around burning wreckage and a whirring jet engine, tending to the wounded from the crash of Oceanic flight 815 as sparkling blue waves lap peacefully in the background.
In reality, the bit of coastline that hosted the carnage of Oceanic 815 is Mokule’ia Beach, a quiet stretch of white sand and palms on Oahu’s famed North Shore. A two-lane highway runs behind it, and beyond that is the Dillingham Airfield, where the curious can actually find the wreckage used to film the plane crash scenes. A short drive from there on the Kamehameha Highway will take you that lush and dramatic valley, part of the Kualoa Ranch, which offers movie and TV tours. And not far from there, behind a fence at the show’s base camp, is the nosepiece and cockpit. It’s all there—for those who know where to look.
Now entering its final season, Lost—a spell-binding mix of mystery, interpersonal drama and supernatural secrets—needed a setting as compelling as its plot. And for the past five years, the verdant rainforests and ragged green peaks of Oahu have provided just that. Now these elements are drawing the faithful fans.
Those who prefer to remain close to their cabana can find a handful of sites here, mostly hotels that play bit parts in a few episodes. But take a short walk down Kapiolani Boulevard, about ten minutes from the north edge of Waikiki’s main drag, and you will find the Hawaii Convention Center, which doubles on Lost as the Sydney (Australia) International Airport. As I step inside, I recognize the long, tall escalators and shimmering glass walls immediately. The “airport” is the setting for many flashback scenes on the show, and indeed I begin to flash back. At the base of the escalators, I see Jack pleading with an airline agent to allow him to take his father’s coffin with him on the flight back to LAX. I see Boone and Shannon arguing on the escalator and Sayid being escorted by airport police.
A 20 to 30 minute drive through the Ko’olau Mountains on the Likelike (pronounced leaky-leaky) Highway takes you to a striking stretch of land wedged between the jagged ridgeline and the blue, clear waters of the coast. The Byodo-In Temple is definitely worth a stop — a tranquil oasis set on a teeming Koi pond in the Valley of the Temples, this Buddhist temple served as Sun’s father’s home and a Korean backdrop for Sun and Jin’s romance. But the star of the Windward side is the Kualoa Ranch. A local tour focuses on the Ka’a’awa Valley, which many will remember as the one where Hurley breathes new life into an old VW van (and takes a joyride around the valley). Or take the Jungle Tour, which also highlights a number of sites—including the fish pond and dock that serve as the port for the Dharma Initiative submarine, and a creek used in a number of episodes.
About 40 minutes outside of Honolulu, the North Shore is mainly known for its incredible surf. Cross the highway to walk along the beach, then travel just a kilometer or two further down the road to Camp Erdman. Easily seen from the highway, the camp’s yellow cabins are instantly recognizable as The Others’ village. Walking past the gazebo in the centre of this little cluster of buildings, I almost expect Benjamin Linus or Richard Alpert to confront me. And just a short drive away lies the Waimea Valley Audubon Center, a latter-day Eden of tropical greenery and rushing waters — take the paved path to the end to find Waimea Valley Falls, which are featured Kate and Sawyer strip down and dive into the pool at its base and retrieve Kate’s special silver case. You can feel free to do the same—a lifeguard is on duty.
In just a few short month the Lost show will be done, but its legacy in Hawaii will live on.