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The original Magnum P.I. television series, which aired from 1980 to 1988, followed the adventures of Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living in Hawaii. With its beautiful Hawaiian backdrop, many viewers wondered if the show was actually filmed on location in the island state.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll take a deep dive into Magnum P.I.’s filming locations and production history to definitively answer the question: was Magnum P.I. filmed in Hawaii?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, Magnum P.I. was primarily filmed on location in Hawaii, with some indoor scenes and second unit work done in California.

An Overview of Magnum P.I.

Magnum P.I. is a popular American television series that originally aired from 1980 to 1988. The show follows the adventures of Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living in Hawaii.

Created by Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson, the series became an instant hit and is still remembered fondly by fans today.

The Original Series Summary and Background

Magnum P.I. revolves around the life of Thomas Magnum, a former Navy SEAL turned private investigator. Magnum resides in a luxurious oceanfront estate in Oahu, Hawaii, which he shares with Jonathan Higgins, the caretaker of the property.

Alongside his friends and fellow veterans, Rick and T.C., Magnum takes on various cases, often involving high-profile clients and dangerous criminals.

The show is known for its blend of action, mystery, and humor, with Tom Selleck delivering a charismatic performance as the titular character. Magnum P.I. received critical acclaim for its engaging storylines, memorable characters, and stunning Hawaiian backdrop.

Main Filming Locations in Hawaii

One of the main reasons why Magnum P.I. remains synonymous with Hawaii is its breathtaking filming locations.

The series utilized the beauty of the Hawaiian islands to its advantage, showcasing stunning landscapes and iconic landmarks. While many scenes were shot on a soundstage in Los Angeles, numerous outdoor shots were filmed on location in Hawaii.

The most recognizable filming location for Magnum P.I. is the luxurious Robin’s Nest estate, where Thomas Magnum resides.

This oceanfront property is actually known as the “Waimanalo Beach House” and is located on the eastern coast of Oahu.

The estate offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and has become an iconic symbol of the show.

In addition to the Robin’s Nest estate, Magnum P.I. featured various other picturesque locations in Hawaii. The series often showcased the vibrant streets of Honolulu, the lush jungles of Kauai, and the beautiful beaches of Maui.

These locations served as the backdrop for thrilling car chases, action-packed shootouts, and dramatic moments that became the trademark of the show.

If you’re a fan of Magnum P.I. and planning a trip to Hawaii, visiting the filming locations can add an extra layer of excitement to your vacation.

You can explore the stunning beaches, drive along the scenic roads, and even visit the Waimanalo Beach House to immerse yourself in the world of Magnum P.I.

For more information about the filming locations and behind-the-scenes stories of Magnum P.I., you can visit the official Magnum Mania website. This comprehensive resource offers a wealth of information for fans and enthusiasts.

Behind the Scenes: Producing Magnum P.I. in Hawaii

Magnum P.I., the popular television series that aired from 1980 to 1988, was indeed filmed in Hawaii. The show’s beautiful backdrop, with its stunning beaches and lush landscapes, became an integral part of the serie’s charm.

Let’s take a look behind the scenes and explore the challenges, local crew and extras, and the issues with costs and logistics associated with filming on location in Hawaii.

Challenges of Filming on Location in Hawaii

Filming on location in Hawaii presented a unique set of challenges for the production team of Magnum P.I. One of the primary challenges was the unpredictable weather.

Hawaii’s tropical climate meant that rainstorms could occur at any moment, disrupting shooting schedules and causing delays. The crew had to be prepared for sudden shifts in weather and adjust their plans accordingly.

Additionally, the remote locations featured in the series meant that the crew had to navigate treacherous terrains, including dense jungles and steep cliffs, to capture the perfect shots.

Local Crew and Extras

To ensure an authentic Hawaiian experience, the production team made extensive use of local crew members and extras. Hiring locals not only added an element of realism to the show but also helped support the local economy.

Many Hawaiian residents had the opportunity to work on the set of Magnum P.I., gaining valuable experience in the entertainment industry.

The show also featured local actors, allowing them to showcase their talent on a national stage. The collaboration between the production team and the local community contributed to the show’s success and authenticity.

Issues with Costs and Logistics

Filming a television series on location in Hawaii can be a costly endeavor. The high cost of transporting equipment and crew members to the islands, along with the expenses associated with securing permits and locations, added up quickly.

Additionally, the logistics of coordinating a production of this scale in a remote location posed its own challenges. Despite these obstacles, the production team recognized the value of filming in Hawaii and believed that the breathtaking scenery and cultural richness of the islands were worth the investment.

For more information about the filming of Magnum P.I. in Hawaii, you can visit the official CBS website at

Key Filming Locations Featured in Magnum P.I.

Robin’s Nest Estate

One of the most iconic filming locations in the Magnum P.I. series is the Robin’s Nest Estate.

This luxurious mansion served as the home base for our beloved private investigator, Thomas Magnum. Nestled on the beautiful island of Oahu, the Robin’s Nest Estate provided the perfect backdrop for Magnum’s adventures.

With its stunning ocean views and lush tropical surroundings, it’s no wonder why this location was chosen.

For fans who want to experience a taste of Magnum’s lifestyle, you’ll be pleased to know that the Robin’s Nest Estate is actually a real property located in Hawaii. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public, but you can catch glimpses of the estate during the show.

Waikiki Beach

Magnum in Waikiki Beach

Another prominent filming location in Magnum P.I. is the famous Waikiki Beach. This world-renowned beach is located in Honolulu and has been featured in numerous episodes of the show.

From exciting action sequences to relaxing scenes by the shore, Waikiki Beach provided the perfect setting for Magnum’s adventures.

Visitors to Waikiki Beach can soak up the sun, take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, and even try their hand at some water sports, just like Magnum.

With its vibrant atmosphere, stunning views, and lively entertainment options, it’s no wonder why this location was a favorite for the show’s creators.

Read moreThe Meaning And History Of Waikiki In Hawaiian

Kahala Hotel & Resort

The Kahala Hotel & Resort is another key filming location that played a significant role in Magnum P.I. This luxury hotel, located on Oahu’s southeastern shores, served as a backdrop for many memorable scenes in the series.

Guests at the Kahala Hotel & Resort can enjoy a taste of the Magnum P.I. experience by staying in one of the rooms or suites that were featured in the show.

From the elegant interiors to the breathtaking ocean views, you’ll feel like you’re living in your own episode of Magnum P.I.

For more information about the filming locations and other interesting facts about Magnum P.I  here.

Other Hawaii Filming Locations Seen in Magnum P.I.

Nu’uanu Pali Lookout

While Magnum P.I. primarily showcased the stunning beauty of Oahu, the show also filmed in various other locations across the island. One notable filming location seen in the series is the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout.

This scenic overlook offers breathtaking views of the island and was featured in several episodes of Magnum P.I. The lookout provides a perfect backdrop for action-packed scenes and dramatic moments, adding an extra layer of excitement to the show.

Byodo-In Temple

Another iconic filming location in Magnum P.I. is the Byodo-In Temple.

Situated in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, this replica of a 900-year-old Japanese Buddhist temple is a popular tourist attraction and has been used as a backdrop in various television shows and movies, including Magnum P.I.

The temple’s serene and picturesque surroundings make it a perfect setting for introspective and contemplative scenes, creating a unique atmosphere that adds depth to the show’s storytelling.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay, a world-renowned nature preserve and marine sanctuary, is yet another filming location featured in Magnum P.I.

This stunning bay is known for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. It has been used in the show to showcase both the beauty of Hawaii’s underwater world and as a setting for thrilling water-based action sequences.

With its picturesque scenery and abundant marine ecosystem, Hanauma Bay adds a touch of adventure and natural wonder to the show.

These are just a few examples of the many breathtaking locations in Hawaii that were showcased in Magnum P.I. The show’s use of these iconic spots not only contributed to its visual appeal but also served to highlight the unique beauty and cultural richness of the Hawaiian islands.

Studio and Second Unit Work in California

While the iconic television series Magnum P.I. is famously set in Hawaii, not all of the filming actually took place in the beautiful archipelago. In fact, a significant portion of the show’s production was done in California.

Interior Scenes Filmed on Sound Stages

Many of the interior scenes in Magnum P.I. were filmed on sound stages in California. This is common practice in the television and film industry, as it allows for greater control over the lighting, sound, and overall production design.

By filming these scenes in a controlled environment, the production team can ensure consistency and quality throughout the episodes.

It’s worth noting that while the indoor scenes were not filmed in Hawaii, the show’s production crew did an excellent job of recreating the island’s unique atmosphere.

The attention to detail in the set design, props, and costumes helped to transport viewers to the sun-soaked shores of Hawaii, despite being thousands of miles away.

Pick-Up Shots and Second Unit Work

In addition to the studio work, Magnum P.I. also utilized pick-up shots and second unit work in California. Pick-up shots are additional footage filmed after the principal photography is complete, often used to enhance or clarify certain scenes.

Second unit work typically involves capturing establishing shots, aerial views, or other footage that doesn’t require the main cast.

These pick-up shots and second unit work were used to seamlessly integrate the scenes filmed in California with the footage shot on location in Hawaii. By combining the two, the show was able to create a cohesive and immersive viewing experience for its audience.


In summary, while Magnum P.I. made excellent use of the Hawaiian islands as its backdrop, production was split between on-location filming in Hawaii and soundstage/second unit work done in Los Angeles.

Key locations seen throughout the show, like Robin’s Nest and the Kahala Hotel, were real places in Hawaii that helped give Magnum P.I. its distinctive island vibe and feel.

So while not 100% filmed in Hawaii, Magnum P.I. did extensively showcase the beauty and culture of the Hawaiian islands through on-location cinematography and storytelling.

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