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Originally published April 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 9, 2005 at 5:14 PM

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On the trail of "Lost" in Oahu's Kaaawa Valley

In the early days of "Lost," ABC's tantalizing TV plane-crash survival saga, a few of its stir-crazy castaways are seen gazing up at an...

Knight Ridder Newspapers

In the early days of "Lost," ABC's tantalizing TV plane-crash survival saga, a few of its stir-crazy castaways are seen gazing up at an all-encompassing drapery of majestic green mountains when one of them flashes a look of utter terror and asks, "Guys, where are we?"

Anyone familiar with Hawaii immediately could have told them that they were on the island of Oahu — and more specifically, somewhere in the Kaaawa Valley region on northern Oahu, not all that far away from civilization, some hot showers and really refreshing shave ice.

But then again, why spoil the fun? They're supposed to be lost, after all.

Since its debut last fall, "Lost," with its twisty plots and mind-blowing mysteries, has been one of prime-time's hottest shows. At least some of the credit should go to the Aloha State, according to co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof.

The enigmatic island upon which the castaways are marooned is, of course, a key character in the show, and he says Hawaii handles the role with aplomb.

"We could have shot it in Southern California or somewhere else, but we figured that if you're doing a show about a plane wreck on an island in the South Pacific, you really need an island in the South Pacific," Lindelof says. "The jungles and the mountains and the way the water looks are all unique to Hawaii. If the audience doesn't buy the illusion, they check out."


Kualoa Ranch & Activity Club 808-237-7321or

Oahu Visitors Bureau 877-525-6248 or

Clearly, the audience has bought it, and now some of the show's fervent followers are starting to express an interest in "Lost" production sites. They want to know where, exactly, Oceanic Flight 815 "crashed." Or where the castaways hold those goofy golf games. Or where — shudder — that creepy, unseen jungle "monster" lurks.

"The show has such a powerful pull, and people, in some way, want to be a part of it," Honolulu film commissioner Walea Constantinau says. "It's sort of like the connection 'Lord of the Rings' has with New Zealand. It's shot in a very intriguing, mysterious place that piques everyone's interest."

Unfortunately, some of the film locations are as impenetrable as the show's mythology. For example, the site where Locke (Terry O'Quinn) first eyed the island creature is on private North Shore property. And those freshwater caves where some of the castaways hang out? They're actually a fabricated set on a Honolulu soundstage.

On the other hand, several sites, including the plane-crash beach, not only are open to the public, they offer all sorts of enticing diversions that go beyond just some Hollywood make-believe. Here's a rundown:

Mokuleia Beach : A few miles west of the fabled beaches of Oahu's North Shore and in a mostly undeveloped area near road's end, Mokuleia is often overlooked by tourists. John R.K. Clark, author of "Oahu's Best Beaches," says that's what makes it a "haven for anyone seeking some solitude and a perfect place for all those castaways to get lost."

Indeed, Mokuleia is where the TV show's plane — or at least its hulking fuselage — performed its explosive crash-and-burn.

The plane's carcass has since been dismantled, and any remaining parts used by the castaways are now on private property. And so the stretch of sand where Jack (Matthew Fox) tended to all those injured crash victims is open to beachcombers, snorkelers, swimmers, campers and anyone else seeking to commune with nature.

Kualoa Ranch : This 4,000-acre working cattle ranch, which spreads from breathtaking mountain cliffs to the sparkling Pacific, is an outdoor lover's paradise — offering horseback riding, ATV rides, kayaking and more. It's no wonder, then, that Hurley (Jorge Garcia) picked this spot to lay out his makeshift two-hole golf course. Yes, Kualoa Ranch, near the city of Kaneohe, is where the castaways go to get their minds off the island heebie-jeebies and work on their putting.

"We've had some people ask us when it is that we're going to put in an actual golf course, but I don't think that's in the plans," says ranch owner and general manager John Morgan.

"Lost" isn't Kualoa's first brush with Hollywood. Its credits also include parts of "Jurassic Park," "50 First Dates," "Pearl Harbor," "Godzilla" and others. Visitors here can take a tour that offers an up-close view of the film sites.

Waimea Valley Audubon Center: A three-quarter-mile walk from the park entrance will lead you to lovely Waihi Falls, which dumps into a cool jungle pool. Visitors are invited to take a dip (weather permitting), but "Lost" fans might think twice.

This, after all, is the pond where Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) took what they thought would be a refreshing swim, only to come upon two submerged corpses still buckled into their airplane seats.

The lush 1,800-acre Waimea Valley actually is much more lovely than creepy. As a home to archaeological sites and remnants of old Hawaiian settlements, as well as a vast array of tropical blooms, birds, fish and other wildlife, it provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in Oahu's natural and cultural history.

Byodo-In Temple : The verdant Koolau mountains serve as a stunning backdrop for the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, the centerpiece of which is this majestic replica of a 900-year-old temple of the same name in Uji, Japan.

Here is where, in a precrash flashback, Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) first met and began making plans for their marriage. Fortunately, the environs are much more tranquil than their relationship turned out to be.

The temple is surrounded by large ponds teeming with colorful Japanese carp. An 18-foot meditation Buddha rises above the quiet scene.

Legend has it that good luck comes to those who are able to ring the bell. Apparently, those beleaguered castaways of "Lost" never have.

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