8 Myths of Hawaii Five-O

image Andy and I have really enjoyed watching the brand new Hawaii Five-0 series. Apparently, we’re not alone as the show has been one of CBS’s biggest hits of the fall.

To me, the star of the show is the scenery. I tend to focus more on figuring out where the scenes are set than paying attention to the plot. I could probably watch an hour-long program of paint drying if the show included scenery of Hawaii. 😉

As a couple of Hawaii nerds and frequent visitors, we notice some things about the show that don’t exactly portray reality. To be fair, we do bear in mind that Hawaii Five-0 is fiction-based. So, we’re not upset about it, but we are just a tad concerned that the show might be giving the wrong impression to would-be visitors. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the top myths about Hawaii Five-0.

Myth 1:  Honolulu is laden with crime.
The show’s ongoing plot is built on fighting crime in Honolulu County, which is the island of Oahu. So, crime is naturally emphasized each week, but Honolulu is the nation’s third safest city per a recent Forbes report.

Myth 2: You can use your cell phone while driving.
As McGarrett and Danno drive around Oahu, they sometimes pull out their cell phone for personal calls. While that may be ok for law enforcement, that’s against the law for us civilians. If, as a civilian, you are caught driving while talking or texting on a mobile phone, you could get a $67 ticket. In fact, if you’re caught just holding a cell phone or any other electronic device while driving, you get a ticket. So, do beware of that law when you visit Oahu. (Read about this law here.)

Myth 3: Five-0 Headquarters Located in Historic Buildings
When the detectives gather at headquarters, a scene of a very attractive historic building shows on the screen with a caption that it’s their headquarters. Well, those are actually scenes of Iolani Palace and Ali’iolani Hale in downtown Honolulu. From this link, you can see a photo of the real Honolulu Police Department headquarters.

Iolani Palace is the US’s only royal palace and is cherished for its history. The following photo is of Iolani Palace.

Iolani Palace

Ali’iolani Hale is located across the street from Iolani Palace. Ali’iolani Hale is home to Hawaii’s judicial system. Ali’iolani Hale is shown in the following photo. Ali'iolani Hale
Myth 4: Kukui High School Fighting Nuts! Let’s go Nuts!
In a recent episode, we learned that McGarrett played football at Kukui High School. That’s a fictitious high school. Some enterprising local guys have generated a social media stir by creating a website along with facebook and twitter pages supporting this fictitious high school. You can even become an alum of this high school and play along.

Myth 5: The North Shore is just few minutes away from Waikiki.
Sometimes, you’ll see the guys driving from the North Shore down to  Waikiki or Ala Moana beaches within minutes. While, we’d all love that to be true, in reality, you need to allocate about 45-minutes to an hour to make that trip.

Myth 6: You can openly drink wine on the beach in Hawaii.
In a recent episode, we saw McGarrett and his lady-friend enjoying a sunset barbeque and bottle of red wine on the beach. Well, consuming alcohol on the beach is actually illegal in Hawaii.

Myth 7: Sunrises are sunsets.
In the scene mentioned in myth 6, we are led to believe it’s a romantic sunset beach barbeque, but that scene was actually filmed on the eastern shore of Oahu. (If I remember correctly, you can see Kaneohe in the background.) So that romantic barbeque was really at sunrise. Doesn’t seem as romantic now, does it?

Myth 8: Hawaii Five-Oh
I learned that I’ve been mistakenly typing Hawaii Five-O, with the letter O. CBS would like to refer to the show as Hawaii Five-0 with a zero. So if you’re searching for official information about the show, you need to use a zero, not an O.


As we view more episodes of Hawaii Five-0, I’m sure we’ll discover more myths, impossibilities and quirks. In the comments, feel free to add myths and wacky things you’ve noticed about the show.

Mahalo to my Hawaii tourism friends – Nathan Kam, Noreen Kam, and Rebecca Pang – for their contributions to this article.

  1. I absolutely love this show for the same reason you stated Sheila. I wonder if there is anyone else besides us who would watch a show about paint drying if they included shots of Hawaii? ha ha! I love the idea of this being on ongoing post as there are more myths exposed! There is a Waialoa shave ice but it isn’t located on the beach at Waikiki and there isn’t a really big guy with a round face who owns it! I wouldn’t mind having one of those t-shirts tho! :>)

    1. Hello Janet. Of course you realise that the Shrimp Truck located down by The Hilton Village Resort is only there for Five 0 episodes. Kamekona who runs the truck in real life has a Shrimp Truck under his real name Taylor Wily. Here is a cut and paste from the Internet;

      “Today we take you to Big T’s shrimp truck. You may not recognize the name but you’ll definitely recognize the face and owner of this
      truck, Taylor Wily who plays Kamakona on the hit series Hawaii Five-0. Located just outside of Waikiki On Nimitz Hwy., you’ll get a taste of some of the best shrimp on the island. It’s really easy to get to located right on the grounds of Hilo Hatties and you can get a free shuttle from just about all the major hotels in Waikiki.”
      Great Show Janet. I have watched the first series with Jack Lord throughout my life and now enjoy the current series. I first went to Hawaii in the Australian Navy in the 1970’s and then when I got married in 1982, I took my wife there for our Honeymoon. We went back 30 years later and our original hotel that we stayed at is still there, albeit with a facelift. Have been back one other time in recent years. Love the place.

    1. Actually, this myth is a myth. The law against using handheld devices while driving specifically excludes law enforcement (and other specific classes of driver). So Danno and McGarrett can text and drive, but you should probably avoid it.

      And sure, drinking on the beach is illegal, but it’s illegal the same way speeding is illegal. Plenty of people do it, and as long as you’re not obnoxious about it, you generally won’t get busted.

      1. Yeah, I think Sheila said that Ryan – the point is that you can’t use your cell phone while driving. I think we all kinda get that the cops have special exceptions–like speeding. 😉

  2. Another myth is the shot of the wave at the opening of the original show and I think it’s in the new show opening. For years surfers have questioned the break where the shot was taken. Many people think it’s the Banzai Pipeline. Surfer magazine did an extensive search and claim that it’s Sunset but the wave is breaking in the wrong direction. They claim that the film negative was reversed thereby creating the backwards looking break. The camera man that shot the footage never remembered where he was to verify the claims though!

    1. Brian – Interesting. I must not know my waves because I had no idea that the opening wave is breaking in the wrong direction.

  3. Myth 4: Kahuku High School was supposed to be the school mentioned, if you watched the initial episode with closed captioning, you would have read Kahuku High School. At the last minute however, the director made a name change because someone in pre-production didn’t do a clearance check with the Kahuku principal to use the name. I am sure she would have said yes. Shucks (it’s my daughter’s school).

    1. Chris – interesting back story about the high schools. Maybe they can still work in Kahuku High into an episode.

    2. Folks at Kahuku High School had advance word of the prominent mention, and it was “Kahuku High School” in the version screened for and sent to media. But it was a last minute change, whatever the reason, and to be sure many in the Kahuku community were miffed. Because the change created the opportunity for Kukui High School, we’re directing much of our charity fundraising to the Kahuku school complex.

  4. I have to admit, this show is one of my guilty pleasures. I got rid of my cable TV this summer, so only watch a couple of TV shows on my computer, and this is one of them. The plots are terribly formulaic (in a 70s-80s way, which is even worse), but the Hawaii scenery is total eye-candy. 🙂

    1. Gray-eye candy is a good term. For the Hawaiian scenery and for Alex ( mmm mmm!) and Grace Park as well! hee hee

  5. I haven’t watched the new show, but the original show with Jack Lord was a BIG reason why Hawaii was the first stop on my round the world trip. Also one of the top 5 TV theme songs of all time!

  6. I love this! Locals do love to decide for themselves what laws are nothing more than petty misdemeanors. (Self included. Shhhhh!) Our old buildings are a draw. Some of us are drawn to them for no apparent reason. We can’t explain it, we just are. Ali’iolani is just one of those buildings.

    Myth 7: Hmmm… sunrise, sunset, they both work for me. There’s food! Barbeque breakfast! LOL! Romantic? I’ll love anybody if they feed me! 🙂 It’s all about the food! I keep telling my husband that but he doesn’t seem to believe me. Tsk!

  7. As mentioned above, the plots can be simple if Hawaii scenery is involved! Actually, the plots remind me of original series on USA or TNT — not terribly sophisticated but fun nonetheless. I was there last month and I can’t wait to go back again next month.

  8. The wave in the original series opening was actually Publics on the South shore. Same place Greg Brady ate while wearing the tiki idol when the Brady Bunch filmed here.

  9. I say it absolutely was because of Iniki. I lived through it and my father was an insurance adjuster and he showed me pictures of the devastation. No doubt many chicken coups were blown apart and then…chicken boom. I too wonder why there weren’t more fresh chicken specials at the restaurants – free range right?

  10. I loved everything you said. Especially the driving part. Have you been to Waikiki lately? You can’t park anywhere, but McGarrett always manages to find convenient street parking, right outside wherever he needs to be. And yes, I laugh at the way they start on one side of the island but manage to arrive on the other side seconds later. In one recent episode, Steve and Danno even managed to drive to a completely different island! I recognized it as Kauai…neat trick I’d love to learn!

  11. My wife and I are from Australia and love this show. We are old enough to have watched Hawaii Five 0 with Jack Lord as well. I was in the Navy and went to Hawaii on warships a number of times back in 70’s and 80’s. I absolutely loved it. When I got married I took my wife to Hawaii for our Honeymoon in 1982 and 30 years later we went back again. What a difference. During our Honeymoon we went to a Show one night and saw the South Pacific Man (Al Harrington). He has been in a few episodes of the current series. Just brings back so many memories. We have been back a third time and stayed at our original hotel from our honeymoon on Oahu. It was called the Outrigger East back then but is called Ohana Waikiki East now and completely renovated. I digress. Love Hawaii and love the TV Show.

  12. I’ve just watched 24 episodes in one week! I love the show and yes I’m old enough to have watched the original series too. I’ve also looked at some of the episodes again just to look at the scenery of Hawaii, its beautiful. I’m English and I’ve lived in many countries (17 so far, I currently live in Dubai) and now I have my sights set firmly on Honolulu as my next place to live, its just such an incredibly nice looking place. I lived in Auckland (NZ) for a while and that was a lot like Honolulu I think, not to mention the New Zealand Maori’s are descended from the same bloodline as the native Hawaiians. Anyway, its a great series about a stunningly beautiful place, I hope I get to live there next!

  13. Our family has thoroughly enjoyed this show. Our question is: is the scenery ( water, trees, hills, etc) rally as vivid and stunning as it looks on the show , or is it all digitally enhanced?

    1. For the most part, the scenery really is as vivid as what you see on the show.

  14. Love the show. To change the topic a bit- am I the only one that thinks that McGarrett would make a great James Bond. Time for Daniel Craig to pass the torch…

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