MY DREAM CAME TRUE!
Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world

Going to Jurassic Park!

Steven Spielberg led me to Kaua’i. His Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies. If there were a real Jurassic Park, I would have booked a vacation package immediately after I left the movie theater. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, Jurassic Park is fictional, but Mr. Spielberg and his crew filmed a good portion of the movie in the real world. He created some of the most memorable Jurassic Park scenes on Kaua’i, Hawai’i. My friend and I traveled to Kaua’i and set out to see two of the most famous filming locations: the site of the Jurassic Park gates and Manawaiopuna Falls.

The dinosaur-sized main gates of Jurassic Park were built deep inside a huge public park at the base of Mount Wai’ale’ale. Although the gates were removed after filming was completed, two tall poles still mark their place. Before our trip, I searched online and found directions to the gate site. When we landed in Kaua’i, we rented a 4WD truck and set out on our adventure.

My directions told us to follow Kuamo’o Road (580) until it changed from paved to dirt. Then we were at the mercy of instructions like “after ½ mile there is a Y. Take the left fork.” There were a bunch of forks and branches in the rugged dirt “road," but no street signs or trail names. I began to wonder whether we’d actually find the gate. We bumped and bounced along, crossing puddles and streams until...

The truck stalled. We tried the ignition again and again, but it just wouldn’t start. We got out to inspect the truck and found ourselves standing in what felt like the middle of nowhere. I wondered whether a tow truck would be able to find us there. After minutes that seemed like hours, my friend tried the ignition again. It started! Some water must have splashed up into the truck’s tailpipe or something during our last stream crossing. I hoped that it wouldn’t happen again.

About half an hour after we’d started along the dirt road, twin tall concrete poles came into view. I jumped out and approached the Jurassic Park poles. Of course they had very little resemblance to the Jurassic Park gates I’d seen in the movie, but the view between them was unmistakable. My heart rate quickened as I walked past them. I almost expected to find dinosaurs, but of course there were just trees and the distant view of lush, wet Mount Wai’ale’ale.

The other Jurassic Park filming location that I longed to visit was the helicopter landing area on Jurassic Park’s Isla Nublar. This was filmed at Manawaiopuna Falls on Kaua’i, but the falls are located on private property. The only way for us to see them was by helicopter, so I booked an excursion with Inter-Island Helicopters. I liked the fact that this company flew with the helicopter doors off. I didn’t want any windows between me and that beautiful waterfall.

Our helicopter took off and traveled through Waimea Canyon, which reminded me of a much smaller, greener Grand Canyon. Next, we checked out the beautiful, verdant peaks of the Na Pali Coast. Then we passed over Hanalei Bay admiring the aqua blue ocean and the Poi fields. Someone had “written” EAT POI in one of the fields for the helicopter tourists’ benefit.

Water drops pelted our windshield (although we stayed fairly dry) as we flew incredibly close to the vegetation covered walls of Mount Wai’ale’ale with their long, skinny waterfalls. Our pilot showed us waterfall after waterfall, but he saved the best for last.

“That’s it!” I exclaimed as we approached a tall waterfall that widened into many fingers as it cascaded over its bulging, rocky path. It was Manawaiopuna Falls. The helicopter landing pad that had been built below it for the movie was long gone, but the waterfall itself looked exactly the same. While we were admiring the falls, a beautiful rainbow appeared across the base as if to say, “Welcome to Jurassic Park!” It was magical!

I did this in 2003 in Kaua'i, Hawai'i, USA.

Jen (California, USA)


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