Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Hawaii Convention Center sets the stage as Sydney Airport, above, for ABC's "Lost."

Oahu plays the world

Local spots pass for a mystery
island, Australia, Korea, the
Mideast and more on "Lost"

MOKULEIA » As a band of jittery plane crash survivors huddle on an island hillside listening to a distress call that has looped through the airwaves for 16 years, one of them asks, "Where ARE we?"

The answer: Oahu.

The actors on the hit ABC show "Lost," which wraps up its debut season tonight, are of course free to enjoy Oahu. Their characters are miserably unaware of the civilization just off frame. But the fans know better -- particularly the ones who live here and proudly blurt out the true locations of flashback scenes set around the globe.

Sydney Airport? That's really the Hawaii Convention Center.

Korean strongman's daughter Sun met her soon-to-be husband Jin at the beautiful Byodo-in Temple in Kaneohe.

And, if you're looking for the spot somewhere in the Mideast where former Republican Guard member Sayid mooned over the imprisoned Nadia, look inside one of the World War II bunkers at Diamond Head.

In the episode "Exodus, Part 1," above, the cast members ready the raft for sailing.

Watching the show each week, fan David Morgan often tells himself, "Hey, I know where that is!" That's because many of the settings are at his family-owned Kualoa Ranch up against the Koolau mountain range on the lush windward side of the island.

The 4,000-acre working cattle ranch has a long history of hosting film crews, dating back to the 1965 film "In Harm's Way" and including the more recent "Godzilla," "Jurassic Park" and "50 First Dates."

The ranch provides tours of filming highlights -- as well as horse and all-terrain vehicle rides -- and is a must-see stop for die-hard fans jonesing for the "Lost" experience while the show goes into repeats after tonight's finale.

Jin reunited with his father at his native Korean fishing village set along the shore of a tranquil, 800-year-old Hawaiian fish pond at the edge of the ranch. Ill-fated lottery winner Hurley set up a golf course to entertain the beleaguered castaways on a flat spot currently littered with cowpies. And Brit rocker Charlie and his brother, in a flashback, talked about kicking drugs at Morgan's house, located in Nuuanu.

AT THE END of a road cutting past a small airfield and another ranch along the North Shore is the former site of show's crash site, long since packed away. Rugged and beautiful, Mokuleia Beach has precisely the end-of-the-world feel that permeates the show. Just you and a couple of locals casting their fishing lines from the edge of the surf.

"Lost" fan and new Hawaii Pacific University graduate Wes Grotjan said he's particularly noticed the show's use of Honolulu's downtown and Chinatown sections, which have done turns as everywhere from the streets of New York City to towns in Australia's Outback.

"I feel I'm kind of in on the joke that I get to see a lot of these places," said Grotjan outside HPU's downtown campus on Fort Street Mall -- a block from where struggling artist Michael foolishly ran out into the road and got hit by a car.

The North Shore is also home to other spots visited by the ill-fated passengers of Oceanic Flight 815.

Across from the fabled surf break of Waimea Bay -- now flat as a pancake without the wintertime swells -- is the Waimea Valley Audubon Center. Hunky badboy Sawyer and mystery lady Kate dove and jumped off the falls there, even though No. 3 on the list of posted rules explicitly says to do neither.

But never mind, a lifeguard is stationed just to the left of the falls should anything go wrong.

People are always intrigued by the possibility of jumping from the falls, but it's not clear if the TV scene has attracted more daredevils, said Hazel Shaw, a spokeswoman for the center.

Like Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Valley has hosted film crews since the days of "Magnum P.I." But the site doesn't receive a credit in the episode, so few would know where to look for the falls -- except the readers of stories like this one, Shaw said.

Just don't tell them The AP sent you.

Lost Online
Kualoa Ranch
Honolulu Film Office

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