In search of Alex: So near yet so far

Part 2 of my Hawaiian adventure is all about Hawaii 50 and my search for filming. Stumbling along some filming (and Alex!) was always going to be a bonus and I was determined not to let my fangirling overshadow our holiday.  However, I knew that episode 3.23 was being shot while we were on Oahu and I was really hoping we’d be able to see some filming.  And find Alex, of course.

I discovered that it’s not as easy as you might think!  It’s a small island, sure, but you have to be in the right place at the right time or just be extremely lucky.  I suppose if you dedicated your time to searching for filming, you may have a better chance of success.  Or use social media for insider info.  That is how we managed to find filming on the third day we were there.  By chance I happened to check Instagram in the morning and saw that Larry Teng had posted a picture of day 1 of 3.23 filming in Portlock, of a scene at the Noshimuri house.  If he hadn’t said it was Portlock, we never would have found it.  We checked out Portlock on Google Maps  and discovered it was about a 15 minute drive from where we were staying.  Yipppeee!

So here is my first tip.  Follow directors, stunt people, fan sites on Twitter and/or Instagram – anyone you can find related to the show –  and keep an eye out for information.  Second tip: if you are looking for filming, search for these signs:

filming sign

They often have ‘CBS Eye Productions’ on them but if they don’t and you think you’ve hit H50 pay dirt, they will at least tell you when filming will take place (note date and times for parking restrictions).  One of the signs up the road from this one had Eye Productions on it so we knew we were in the right place. Trouble is, these signs are used across the whole island to indicate no parking, and mostly for road works or construction, so false alarms abound!  Fortunately for us, we were in the right place as check out what we saw when we entered the Portlock area:

set up collage

We knew it was Five Oh as we walked past the vans and the tent and we could see signs of Show – how exciting! We also chatted to a local guy out walking his dog.  He said the H50 crew set up in the area at least a couple of times per month.  It’s rather swish so I imagine it’s used regularly when they need a fancy house for the episode.  Anyway, the guy said he had seen Grace Park (OMG!) be driven away just before we arrived so we knew that filming had to be somewhere close.

Basically, we just drove around (OK, we were stalking!) the Portlock area until we stumbled across this:

on the street

Top LH pic – catering! Just sitting on the street along with a cabinet full of pastries. And note the lovely view of the ocean from the street

Cool huh?  We could see Kono’s car parked on the street so there was a fair chance both Grace Park and Ian Anthony Dale would be inside.  We received confirmation from the crew but were told there’d be no fan pictures as the actors were busy filming.  No matter.  We saw Kono’s car! (OK, so I was inappropriately excited about a car but that’s what fangirls do, right?)


Apart from sheer luck, catching a glimpse of the actors or having a fan photo taken with them involves lots of waiting around.  I tested my family’s patience to the limit as we stood on the street for over two hours.  The crew were really friendly and they talked to us (happy to note we were from Australia!) and also a few locals came and went.  The locals are a bit ho-hum these days, I think, as they see this kind of thing all the time so it’s no biggie to them. But it certainly was to us, the only fans in for the long haul that morning.

It was quite interesting to see how much time and how many people it takes to film a scene and I now have crazy respect for what it takes to put together 42 minutes of television.  I don’t know what was going on inside the house as the ‘caller’ said rolling and then cut about a gazillion times.  Anyway, our patience was rewarded when, during a break in filming, Ian Anthony Dale came outside:


He looked over and smiled at us. Squeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

So you can see that he came out to chat to someone (top left pic), then saw us and turned (top right pic).  And then smiled – zoomed in picture at the bottom.  It looks like we were a long way away but we weren’t really, just across the street.  We were the only people on the street other than crew and it was clear Ian had seen us and smiled.  So it wasn’t Alex but it was pretty awesome nonetheless.  I was way too shy to walk over to him to ask for a picture, particularly when the crew had said no fan pics today.  So admiring from afar was enough.

Our next reward was when Lesley Boone turned up to visit her husband, Larry, for lunch.  I nearly died when I realized it was her:


She walked right by us, up to the top of the road with her kids to get some lunch.  I was totally awestruck and just stood there – some fangirl I turned out to be.  I wanted to say to her as she walked by, “You were awesome as Madeline in the Aloha Girls ep!”  But all I could manage was “Hi, how are you?  How’s filming going today?”  What a dork.  I would have loved a picture with her but I was just too shy to ask and it seemed inappropriate when she was with her children.  What Lesley did say was that they’d be at least another couple of hours yet and because we had to meet Sage on the North Shore and my kids were a tad over it, we left.  So I was really disappointed that Grace Park didn’t come out but it was still pretty cool to have seen Ian and gained a really good understanding of how much effort it takes to film just one scene.

Over the course of our first week in Hawaii, I couldn’t find any information on where Alex might be filming.  However, this fan BTS photo was posted on Twitter by @brokeash the day after we were at Portlock:

filming pic 3 April 2013

Arggghhhh, it wasn’t posted until the evening!  We’d been at Pearl Harbour all day and when I got back to the cottage and saw the pic, I realized we’d only been a few miles away from this location.  Darn it!

We did get lucky one more time though.  On the day we climbed Koko Head, a local guy posted on Twitter that there was filming downtown, near Bishop Place.  Despite being exhausted from climbing and swimming (my kids and husband are troupers!), we drove downtown after dinner to see what we could find.  This was it.  Treat Williams!


The crew told us that “none of the 50 kids were around” but we stayed for about an hour and a half anyway.  We were asked not to take pictures of the actual scene and had to be moved out of the way of the shot but we did manage to sneak one in of Treat Williams, as you can see in the bottom right hand picture.  It was fascinating to watch this scene – it was just Treat peering around the corner of the building then following the truck inside but it was done over and over again.  Cars that you see driving up the street that seem random when you watch the episodes are actually strategically placed – each time this scene was redone, the drivers had to reverse back to their positions and start again.  A local guy was watching with us and he told us his friend had seen Alex and Scott filming at HQ and they got out of Danny’s car 15 times before the scene was finished.

I think being 3.23 and near the end of the season, there was an emphasis on privacy and the crew were pretty tight-lipped about where they’d be filming during the week.  I actually tweeted Treat and said I’d seen him filming but he said the locations for the rest of the week were ‘a secret’.  I guess you just had to be lucky to see anything so I was really grateful that we had.

We did go to Kahala Mall a few times (for dinner, shopping and to see a movie) – Alex lives near there and is often photographed with fans at the mall.  We were out of luck though.  We even bought food in the Whole Foods Market where I know Alex has been seen before.  Mind you, only someone with his income could afford to shop there – lovely food but really expensive!  And no, we weren’t really stalking him as the mall was on our way back to the cottage from downtown.

Kahala mall

In the second week we were in Hawaii, Treat Williams posted a picture on Twitter and Instagram praising Alex for his hard work so they were obviously filming together early in the week.  The picture that was posted looked like it was from earlier in the season, the first episode Treat appeared in as Mick the PI, so even though I figured out where the location was (a house in Kahala), I had no way of knowing whether they were there or not.  Then we went to the Big Island when @monimoob tweeted that she was downtown in the wee hours of the morning and managed to catch a glimpse of Alex.  I know now he was filming the ‘ninja’ scenes with Christine Lahti then.  So I had to be content with views of an active volcano on the Big Island instead of a slim chance I’d get a view of Alex.  Sigh.


An active volcano or Alex? Hmmm….

And then Daniel Dae Kim posted this picture of Alex in between takes, on the last night we were in Hawaii enjoying the fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village:

filming pic 12 April 2013

So, so near and yet so far is the story of my ‘search for Alex experience’.  I just have to be content with being on the same island as him at the same time.  As I said, if you searched really hard you might find him or if you are just really, really lucky it might happen.  I am disappointed that it didn’t happen for us but I’d not swap our amazing experiences in Hawaii for anything.

What I did manage to do though, was find lots of filming locations.  I craftily built our holiday activities into my search so it was all completely legitimate. Well, that’s what I told my family anyway!

For example, who could turn down scrumptious Liliha Bakery treats?  This one was a winner – freshly cooked malasadas AND a Five Oh experience.  (In case you’re wondering, I kept the bakery box!)

Liliha bakery collage

Chin and Danny in El Malama (the Julie in the Jungle ep from season 1). My bakery pics underneath.

Also, the Aloha Tower Marketplace, where we had a picnic lunch of sandwiches and our Liliha treats.  It has been featured at least twice in Show – once when the team chased the ‘mechanic’ in the General Pak ep in season 1 and again this season where the art heist took place in 3.2 (the episode that featured August March):

Aloha Tower Gen Pak

Aloha Towers heist

(By the way, they must have brought heaps of extras in to fill up the marketplace as it was pretty dead when we were there, as you can see from the bottom right hand picture I took.)

There’s also the International Marketplace, where a suspect is nabbed in the football ep early in season 1.  We went there to look around the markets and to have lunch.

international marketplace

Who could forget the season 2 episode where Lori and McG race up the steps at Koko Head before Lori falls. We only knew about this hike from watching the show and it was always going to be on our list of things to do.  I made it to the top.  Yay me!


Top two pics are mine, bottom two from the episode. Cool hey?

Downtown Honolulu has loads of Five Oh things you can see.  A visit to ‘HQ’ is a must.  Just so you know, I was crazy excited about seeing these buildings and the surrounding areas even if no Five Oh-ers were in sight.  Just being there was enough! And even my kids were excited about being there.

H50 HQ collage

The Post Office and Aiiolani Hale. The interior HQ shots are filmed at CBS studios on Kapiolani Blvd.

Pearl Harbour was another place we had on our list of things to do that doubled as a Five Oh experience.  If you get the chance, make sure you do the USS Missouri tour as it’s such a thrill to be on board the battleship.  It was featured in the pilot, when McG talks to the Governor about taking on the task force leadership role:

Missouri pilot

I took the top pic – the ship is mahoooosive, to use Alicia’s word

And also when McG and Danny talk Chin, at the time working in the Missouri gift shop, into joining them on the taskforce:

Chin pilot Missouri

We went inside, too, as I bought some souvenirs.

And of course, most of episode 1.7 was filmed on the Missouri – one of my favourite episodes of the entire series:


In keeping with the WW2 theme, we visited the military cemetery at Punchbowl which has been used in several episodes, including the one where Mary first returns to the island in season 1 and recently, when she visited her father’s grave with Morty:


It’s a beautiful cemetery and the memorial a fitting tribute to the fallen

Mary’s rented house was featured in the episode where she is kidnapped and the Champ Box contents are stolen.  I can’t remember which part of the island her house is meant to be located in, but I believe it is inland and obviously not where this picture was taken (also because McG couldn’t get here as quickly as he did in the episode from where Casa McGarrett is actually located).

Mary house

This is on the North Shore, near Kualoa Ranch. The island is called Chinaman’s Hat.

I think the writers take liberties with lots of locations on the island although as a non-local, I’d never know.  In the honeymoon killer episode, I understand from my research that McG and Danny were to have chased the killer up to a part of the island that is not actually where filming took place:


This is the Pali lookout – my pic on the left

Also, in another of my favourite episodes (3.7), Zach, a teen master hacker, is released into his parents’ care from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.  In the episode, it seems to be located in a remote part of the island – remember the family is lost on the way back and Zach is kidnapped?  This facility is actually on a highway and we passed it everyday on our way from Waimanalo into the city area.  How about that?


According to the H50 Undercover website, much of the General Pak episode in season 1 was filmed in Waimanalo Beach where we were staying.  So I didn’t find Alex but how cool is this:  the store where McG and Kono find a former soldier of the General’s was about a 5 minute walk from where we were staying.  We actually bought something in the shop so we stood where Alex stood.  Sigh….

General Pak ep

My pic at the top, Alex being filmed going into the store at the bottom. Squeeeeee! You can also see the mesh behind the suspect in the bottom pic to the right of the pic we took.

The house where a female murder victim was found (in the freezer) in that episode was apparently in Waimanalo somewhere.  If you look back at the episode, there’s a bit of footage of the general area which is around where we were staying:


We drove down this road everyday!

Waimanalo Beach has also been used in at least two other episodes.  Check out these pictures, of Jen the paddle boarder from episode 2.2 and of Kono coming out of the surf in the season 2 finale.  We took the other two pictures.


As mentioned in my Hawaiian adventure post, we did the movie sets tour at Kualoa Ranch on the North Shore.  Kualoa, along with a valley on the western side of the island, is used a lot in Show – it doubles as North Korea and was used in the pilot.  Check these out:


From the opening scenes in the pilot. Looks a little different when over-run with tourists!

2.10 bunker

From episode 2.10 – my pic on the right

And finally, the Wailana Coffee House.  It’s in Waikiki, just across the road from the HHV.  I convinced my family to eat there on our final night.  See, legitimate reason for being there!  I actually ate dinner there myself, three years ago when I was in Hawaii for work (stayed in the hotel next door) but that was before H50 and before I knew it meant something 🙂  The décor is right out of the 1950s and the wait staff all wear Hawaiian shirts.  It’s adorable and the food is cheap and not too bad.  It was featured in episode 2.2, when Lori and McG are on a stake out, trying to get in touch with one of the victims of a cult:


Top pics are from the episode, the bottom ones are mine. We sat down the other end to where Lori and McG, at a table rather than a booth.

There’s a fair amount you can see just by walking and driving around and you’ll find yourself recognizing scenes from the show as you do so.  We saw lots of stuff that I didn’t photograph – we saw the turnoff to Halawa but didn’t go there to find the prison and we took a wrong turn and ended up at the entrance to Hickham Airforce Base.   We also drove by the Rainbow Drive In on our final night. There are also iconic places like Diamond Head, Ala Moana Beach Park, Sand Island and the HHV that you can easily find.  I must admit to being crazy excited just to be in these places and now we’re all fired up to watch Show from the beginning to look for familiar locations.

So there you have it!  My Hawaii 50 tour.  If you have the chance to visit Hawaii, there’s lots of fangirling you can do even if you don’t stumble across any filming.  For tips on how to find the locations, check out the  filming locations section of the H50 Undercover website, the Hawaii 50 locations info on the blog, and Wendie Burbridge’s Five O Redux which has some great tips on how to relive scenes from the show:


(Screen caps from the show thanks to, and screencaps at




    It’s a shame you didn’t get to see Alex but you saw so much! I love seeing the locations next to your pics, I have this weird mental block where I kind of forget they’re real places. I blame the Universal Studios tour and to a lesser extent, Blazing Saddles (I’m in a peculiar mood today, sorry about that).

    I’m impressed that you managed to contain yourself when you saw Lesley Boone! I would have seriously embarrassed myself, I think.

    Still in awe about Koko Head Stairs.

    Also, that is totally Aunt Marie’s trailer in the first collage, even though I will be amazed if anyone even gets this reference.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. I get what you mean about the surreal nature of the locations – it’s kind of weird having seen some of them ‘for real’ and then thought about how they appear in the episodes. Blazing Saddles! *snorts*

      I really have to hand in my fangirl card because I was such a dork when Lesley Boone spoke to us. I so wish I’d asked her for a picture but I was just too shy. Just as well I didn’t meet Alex because I would have been a total mess. Hopeless!

      Koko Head will always have a special place in my heart if only for remembering how sore my legs were the next day! I still can’t believe it myself – I made it to the top!

      And, you are right, I didn’t get the Aunt Marie reference but Google knew what you meant!

  2. Andrea, this strikes me as thoroughly researched, well written and very interesting to read – I like bits of facts/trivia now and then. The effort you put into visiting these places, finding info about it and making this post impresses me. Thank you a lot for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your comment, marnov. The search for filming locations was a true labour of love and it was amazing how easily I could fit everything into what we were doing. I’m really fascinated by the filming process and to have seen something of what it takes to make an episode and visited some of the locations – well, all pretty cool stuff for a nerd like me!

  3. I really enjoyed this Andrea. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories of my trips to Hawaii. I was wondering ,Alex says in many ways it reminds him of Australia. Did you feel that way? I’d be interested to know. I am so glad that you and your lovely family had such a brilliant time..I bet you all want to go back again. Hawaii is so addictive!!!

    1. Thanks, PN. Yes, definitely, Hawaii does remind me of Australia and I can totally see why Alex loves living there. I grew up in NZ so the mix of the Queensland outdoorsy, laid back lifestyle I have here and the Polynesian culture of my childhood makes me feel very much at home in Hawaii.

      1. Thanks Andrea!!!So you are a “KIWI” like my favorite female opera singer Dame Kiri te Kanawa. Lucky you. NZ and Oz

  4. Anonymous · · Reply

    I too have just returned from Hawaii. I was lucky enough to see them film in the international market place in March 2012, it was the NCIS LA – Hawaii Five 0 cross over episodes. I got pictures of Scott & DAniel and one of me and LL Cool J. This trip we met Dennis Chun and one of the “bad guys” who gets blown up in 3.20 – he’s a bad guy in North Korea. We also did the Kahala Mall & Whole Foods thing…… 11yr old daughter is as bad as me now. We stopped by the studios behind Diamond Head and had our photos taken with the Hawaii Five 0 fleet of vehicles – from the shrimp truck thru to the silver Camaro. We also had breakfast at Bogart’s – Alex was a no show, but we’ll go back again next time. I was a little confused with your dates, we arrived on Sun 21 April and attended a wrap party on Mon 22 April – I thought filming had finished on the Fri 19 April. It is nice to know i’m not the only one who uses a holiday as an excuse to go looking for the Hawaii Five 0 guys……..I’ve made a few friends thru H50, so who knows what’s in store for us on our next trip. ALOHA!

    1. Lucky you, to have pictures of Scott and Daniel! It sounds as if you cleverly worked H50 stuff into your holiday, too. Yes, you are right, filming finished on Friday 19 April. We were in Hawaii from 31 March until 14 April which was when episode 3.23 was being filmed. Filming of the finale started just as we were leaving, I think. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

      It’s interesting now that I have seen 3.23, to work out which scenes were filmed when. On the third or fourth day we were there, Teilor Grubbs and Larry Teng tweeted about the airport scene which I now know is the one where Danny and Grace are waiting for Gabby. And, Wendie Burbridge from the Five O Redux sent me a DM about filming going on at a gym near where she lives (at end the of the first week of our trip) which I now know is the gym scene with Michael Noshimuri. So even though we didn’t actually see any of this, it’s still a thrill to realize we were on the island at the same time 🙂

  5. This is great, Andrea. We are on Oahu for 6 nights in total but without a car so we were more limited. As you know we were at the Hilton for 4 nights and I had to contain my excitement at seeing many locations within the grounds including from the Danny’s brother ep, one of my favourites. I also stumbled across the Crazy Fish shop where Danny buys Grace the pink dress for the dance; this was also within HHV grounds. I was taking photos of car parks in Ala Moana park where Danny’s in the car with Rick prior to shooting Stan!
    Coincidentally our last night in Oahu was a location too, the hotel where Lori and Chin have an excrutiating convoy about Steve then see Kono in the car with the the bad guys when she’s under cover.
    So much of Oahu has been filmed at one time or other it feels a bit like one big location.
    In a way it was better that filming had finished when I went as I probably would have driven my friend mad!
    The volcano was amazing, wasn’t it? Heard H50 were planning an ep there one day.
    Maui was lovely and they’ve already filmed at LaHaina where we stayed.
    Thanks so much for sharing. You see Show differently when you’ve been there, don’t you?

    1. Yes, having a car makes a huge difference and allows you to cover lots of ground in a short time. You certainly had the HHV covered, though! The volcano WAS amazing and you were so lucky to have had the chance to do the helicopter ride. I’ve been to Maui before and loved it, too – I think each island has its own identity and ambiance.

      I definitely agree that you see Show differently when you’ve been there and because we saw filming, I feel like I see the actors differently too now. In terms of some of the locations, they look quite different in the episode – I mean, the area at the bottom of Koko Crater looks much bigger on screen than it does IRL.

      It is rather exciting to watch Show now and look out for the places we have been to and this was especially exciting for us having been on the island when 3.23 was filmed.

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