When Jurassic Park hit cinemas in 1993, the dinosaurs shamelessly grabbed centrestage. But, for many viewers, it was the stunning natural backdrop that made Steven Spielberg’s CGI-boosted flick – adapted from Michael Crichton’s sci-fi novel of the same name – such a visual feast.
The action pans out on Isla Nublar, a fictional tropical island off Costa Rica. Yet the movie and its three sequels – including 2015’s Jurassic World – were largely filmed in Hawaii, with most scenes shot on the island of Kauai.
Nicknamed “the Garden Isle” – it’s carpeted in dense, verdant rainforest – Kauai is a beauty on every level but especially from the sky. Tours operated by Island Helicopters swoop past locations that starred in Jurassic Park, such as the awe-inspiring Nā Pali coast, where sheer jungle cliffs rise majestically from the Pacific Ocean. The chopper also soars over dramatic canyons and stops at the base of the 110-metre-high Manawaiopuna Falls. Dubbed “Jurassic Falls”, it’s where the lead characters – played by Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum – land after flying to Isla Nublar with Richard Attenborough’s eccentric-billionaire park creator.
Another enticing Jurassic-flavoured journey is a four-wheel-drive and hiking adventure through Kauai’s serene green interior, pausing at the so-called “Jurassic Park gate”. Although the theme park’s entrance was removed post-filming, two poles mark the scenic spot where it stood, in the shadow of the often mist-shrouded Mount Waialeale.
At the exotic and arty Allerton Garden, on Kauai’s south shore, you’ll find the twisting Moreton Bay fig trees against which Attenborough’s two on-screen grandchildren and Neill are disturbed by a sneezing Brachiosaurus.
And do you remember the thrilling scene where they’re caught up in a screeching herd of Gallimimus fleeing a T. rex (left)? That was filmed at the ravishingly lush Kualoa Ranch on Kauai’s neighbouring island of Oahu. A favourite of TV and movie makers – 50 First Dates, Hawaii Five-0 and Lost are among the dozens of productions shot here – this working cattle ranch and farm can be explored by vintage school bus, quad bike and on horseback. The fallen tree, under which Neill and the kids take shelter from the hungry T. rex, makes for a wonderful photo opportunity. ￼