Tag Archives: Movies shot on Maui

Major Motion Pictures Shot on Maui

Hana, one of the places of motion pictures shot on Maui.

Hana Highway, one of the sites of major motion pictures shot on Maui.

The Few Motion Pictures Shot on Maui

The State of Hawaii has provided the beautiful backdrop of a number of great Hollywood blockbuster movies. They included Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Descendants and more. However, most of those films were either filmed on the island of Kauai or Oahu. But were there any major motion pictures shot on Maui? Here is an overview of the relatively few that were.

The Devil at 4 O’clock

This 1961 disaster epic is about a priest’s efforts to rescue children with Hansen’s disease from an exploding volcano. It had all of the essential components for a successful major motion picture. It had arguable two of the biggest name stars in Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra. The special effects in the movie, set in a fictional island in French Polynesia, were leading edge for the times. Last but not least, it featured a great setting, Maui. Most of the movie was shot on location in the town of Lahaina.

The Hawaiians

This 1970 movie starred Charleston Heston and Geraldine Chaplin. The story came from the later chapters of the best-selling James Michener novel, Hawaii. The movie had a number of scenes shot on Maui in addition to covering key historic events in Hawaii. One example was the Chinese and Japanese immigration to the islands. Another one was the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The spread and control of Hansen’s Disease and the development of the pineapple industry in Hawaii were also covered in the movie. The movie’s depiction of how the pineapple industry started in Hawaii is ironically appropriate. This is because as Maui was one of the last places in Hawaii to grow pineapples.


You have big name stars like Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. You also have Maui as a backdrop in this 1973 Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winning movie. What more do you need? This movie is about life in the infamous penal system in French Guiana. It had a number of key scenes shot in Hana, Maui. Here, the climactic scene where Papillon jumped off a dangerous cliff to escape imprisonment was shot. Steve McQueen, being Steve McQueen, actually did the dangerous cliff jumping scene himself.

Despite such major motion pictures, it’s a mystery why Hollywood doesn’t shoot more films on Maui. Millions of tourists throughout the world know and appreciate Maui’s enticing charms. Hopefully, the movie industry will one day rediscover it as well as utilize it more fully.