Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

October 27th, 2009
Kauai is ready for its close-up, pt.2

Explore by land (safe and sane)

Ready for your close-up? Hawaii Movie Tour’s provide a fun and technicolor fact-filled way to see many of Kauai’s most beautiful spots. The comfy bus is fully equipped with surround sound and tv monitors for viewing the bits and pieces of the movies pertaining to the actual film locations.

Ben, our gregarious, fun-loving guide was a walking (or in this case, driving) encyclopedia of film and TV lore. He was also very knowledgeable about the island’s history, geography, wildlife (he taught me how to say the name of the state fish, “Humuhumukununukuapua’a” which he said has a face like a pig) and, most importantly, all the latest gossip.

For example, the latest buzz was that the ultra- private Steven Spielberg had been spotted scouting out locations for the next Jurassic Park.

“He usually goes around in a disguise so he won’t be recognized,” Ben chortled, “but I don’t know who he thinks he’s kidding– wearing a raincoat in Hawaii is kind of a dead give-away. Now Pierce Brosnan, on the other hand, couldn’t be friendlier. The only celeb thing about him is that the special “007” license plate on his wife’s car.”

kauai 003We knew we were in good hands when we arrived at the tour office where film-buff owners Bob Jasper and Jerri Wassink have the actual tiki from Raiders of the Lost Ark in the front yard. Other tour highlights from our six hour tour include:

Wailua Falls: provided the opening scene for Fantasy Island– you can almost hear Tattoo’s annoying shriek, shout “Da plane! Da plane!”

Coco Palms Resort: became Elvis’s second home while he was filming Blue Hawaii. This legendary resort is finally being rebuilt after being shuttered since the 1992’s Hurricane Iniki. While we were exploring the gorgeous grounds (Hawaii Movie Tour is the only company allowed on site) out strolls Larry Riviera, strumming his $2,000 koa wood “uke” softly singing “The Love Song of Kalua” from the TV series “Fantasy Island”. Rivera was a close friend of Elvis Presley while he filmed “Blue Hawaii” on Kauai.

“In fact,” Larry told us with a big wink, “I was the one who really taught Elvis how to hit the high notes.”

Although he turns 80 next year, this spry little man is still in big demand for both singing engagements and coordinating “Blue Hawaii Weddings” on the same lagoon where Elvis exchanged his movie vows.

Hanalei Bay: This remote two-mile crescent-shaped beach was just selected No. 1 on“Dr. Beach” Stephen P. Leatherman’s 2009 list of top 10 beaches, however it was actually “discovered” back in the 50’s when the hit musical “South Pacific” was filmed here.
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“The sheer beauty of Hanalei Bay is breathtaking,” said Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. “It’s really an idyllic setting.”

Read on for more Kauai fun in the sun…

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