Lost, which ran from 2004 to 2010, is arguably one of the most popular TV shows ever created. J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber brought the show to life and attracted an international audience in the millions, which still thrives today.
When the survivors of a plane crash (Oceanic Flight 815, to be exact) find themselves on a beautiful, lush island, they don’t know much about each other or the secrets the island itself harbors. But that soon changes as the complex, often jaw-dropping plot unravels.
The beauty of Lost’s numerous highly-visual locations is hard to forget. So, where was the show filmed?
Where it all happened
Almost all of Lost was filmed on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, which is home to Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu. It is a dramatic island that boasts incredible scenery, including an elevation of over 1,200 meters. O’ahu is the third largest Hawaiian island, with around one million residents calling it home.
Most of the scenes in the pilot of Lost were filmed at Mokulē’ia to the north-west of the island, with later beach scenes taking place across the northern shore, which is famed for its seclusion.
The creators of the show were genius when it comes to location trickery. Even when you thought you were no longer on the island, even when in California, New York, Miami, Nigeria, Iraq, Paris, Australia and more, you still in fact were. Honolulu was used as a stand-in for various international locations, which meant almost everything could be pulled off from the comfort of Hawaii, which avoided excessive traveling and, of course, stopped the budget from soring.
A fantastic, and surprising, example of urban trickery in Lost are the scenes set in Sydney Airport. To replicate this, the Hawaii Convention Centre was used.
Studios were occasionally used in the show, but rarely. For instance, the cave scenes in the first season were filmed on a sound stage at an old Xerox warehouse. Then, in 2006, the sound stage, along with the production offices, was moved to the Hawaii Film Studio. It’s in this studio that Season 2’s ‘Swan Station’ and Season 3’s ‘Hydra Station’ interiors were brought to life.
The only scenes filmed outside Hawaii included hospital scenes from the Season 3 finale, for which the set was borrowed from Grey’s Anatomy, and a couple of scenes in Season 4, filmed in London.
Our favorite Lost locations
With all the spectacular locations featured in the show, we’d be crazy not to have some favorites.
The ranch is an enormous stretch of land that runs from the Hakipu’u Valley to the Ka’a’awa Valley. In Lost, it’s better known as the location for the golf course and security fences. Two of the Dharma stations were also filmed on the ranch.
You can visit a Movie Sites & Ranch Tour at Kualoa, where you can spot several of the locations for yourself.
Ala Wai Yacht Harbour
That famous photo of Penny and Desmond together in front of a harbor was shot at the Ala Wait Yacht Harbour. It’s here also that Shannon and Boone’s fight, which supposedly takes place in Australia, was filmed.
Think we’ve forgotten something? That’s because this is also where Penny is almost killed by Ben. This serene-looking harbor saw plenty of action over the years.
Jin and Sun get married at the Byodo-In Temple, which is a replica of a temple in Kyoto, Japan. The Buddhist temple is in Kāneʻohe, minutes from the Kahekili Highway.
Ben killed Jacon at Mākua Beach. It’s also where everything started to get even weirder when the survivors we all know and love found the remnants of an Egyptian statue. That statue got talked about a lot during the show’s run because it had to be taken down and then put back every day of filming.
The Convention Centre
Hawaii’s Convention Centre had us all fooled as a faux Sydney airport. It’s where Shannon got Sayid into serious trouble by implying that he had a bomb and where Jack yelled at a ticketing agent about his father’s body. But the most heart-wrenching use of the location is probably when Sun was leaving Jin and he held up a flower for her, but she went anyway, which doomed them on the island.
It’s here that the survivors spent most of their time, as it’s where they made camp from the very beginning, after the crash. Papailoa Beach is a spectacular location with a mesmerizing view that stretches from Ka-ena Point to Waimea Bay. It’s best known for its turtles even though, believe it or not, you can get to the street by walking along a short path. Who knew it was so easy to escape?
The bird sanctuary, which is now closed to the public, is where Kate and Sawyer found themselves trapped in bear cages when they were taken by The Others.
It’s not exactly a jungle, but Mānoa Falls does a good job of acting beyond the limitations of its hiking trail. It’s a dark, slightly unnerving wooded area that you’ll remember as the location of many of Ethan’s scenes, including when he found himself hanging from the banyan tree. If you visit Mānoa Falls today, you’ll see that famous banyan tree in plain sight.
Waimea Valley Audubon Centre
Remember that picturesque pool where Kate and Sawyer found more than they bargained for under the water? That’s Waimea Valley. It’s also where part of the plane crashed and where Kate and Hurley woke up after half the survivors went back in time.
There are many other spectacular locations featured in Lost. Undoubtedly, Hawaii pulled it out the bag as one of the most versatile filming locations on record – or so we think.
To fully appreciate what Lost did with its locations and remind yourself of which ones were your favorite, we highly recommend a re-watch. After all, do you really understand what was going on?