Behind the Shot
If the land in this photograph looks familiar to you, chances are you’ve seen a movie or watched television in the last 75 years or so. The unique cliffs of the Napali coast of Hawaii’s second-oldest (geologically) island, Kauai, have been featured in countless films and TV shows. Elvis filmed here twice: 1961’s Blue Hawaii and 1966’s Paradise, Hawaiian Style. The 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific was filmed here as were Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, 1976’s King Kong, and Tropic Thunder were filmed here. Even the Disney animated Lilo & Stitch (and its sequels) were set near here.
The first settlers on the Napali coast of Kauai landed sometime around 1200. The coast became a thriving trade center between the Hawaiian tribes, and Kauai was the last island to join the kingdom of Hawaii under King Kamehameha in 1810.
Today, tourism is the number one industry on Kauai, and Napali Coast State Park is one of the top tourist destinations on the island. Over 6,175 acres, the park is on the northwest side of the island. The Napali coastline is backed by the high cliffs, towering more than 4,000 feet above sea level. Pierson described his experience: “We were on a private boat tour to see the Na Pali coast. We had a pod of 20 or so dolphins in front of our boat. I was completely blown away by the bluest of blue water, just amazing beaches and scenery. This is a famous spot. The ridges are amazing and unique.”