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American Idol first filmed auditions in Hawaii during Season 6 in 2007. Additional auditions took place there in Seasons 7 and 8 as well.

If you’re looking for more details on when exactly American Idol filmed in Hawaii and what took place during the auditions, read on for a breakdown.

Overview of American Idol’s Hawaii Auditions

Season 6 Auditions in 2007

In January 2007, the iconic singing competition show American Idol traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii to hold auditions for Season 6. Hundreds of hopeful singers lined up for their chance to impress the judges – Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson – and earn a golden ticket to Hollywood.

The Hawaii auditions marked the first time American Idol held tryouts outside of the continental United States. The move proved popular with viewers and contestants alike. In fact, an impressive 15 singers from Hawaii made it to the Hollywood rounds that year, including the memorable Mishavonna Henson.

While no contestant from the Aloha State made it to the live shows in Season 6, the trip highlighted the wealth of talent in Hawaii and the enthusiasm of local Idol fans. As Randy Jackson declared, “Hawaii did not disappoint!”

Season 7 and 8 Return Visits

Buoyed by the success of the initial Hawaii auditions, American Idol returned to Honolulu again in January 2008 for Season 7. With Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson back on the judging panel, the crew set up shop at Aloha Stadium.

Once again, the idyllic tropical locale and welcoming crowds created a memorable atmosphere. A 16-year old girl named Ramiele Malubay wowed the judges and earned a ticket to Hollywood, where she would make it all the way to the Top 10 live shows – the first Hawaii resident to advance that far.

In 2009, American Idol held Honolulu auditions for a third straight year during Season 8. The judges made yet another exciting discovery – Kris Allen, a 23-year old Arkansas native who was living in Hawaii while serving as a worship leader at a local church.

Kris sailed through his audition, with Simon praising his likeable persona and vocal talent. Kris rode that momentum all the way to the Season 8 crown, beating out powerhouse Adam Lambert in one of Idol’s biggest finale upsets. His against-the-odds victory remains a fond memory for Hawaii viewers.

While the show has not returned to the islands since, the three seasons of Aloha State auditions undoubtedly brought American Idol exciting talent and special moments. Mahalo plenty, Hollywood!

Behind the Scenes of the Hawaii Filmings

Locations Used

When American Idol filmed in Hawaii in 2022 for an episode, they used several iconic locations across O’ahu to capture the beauty of the islands. According to reports, filming took place at the famous North Shore with its renowned beaches and big wave surfing.

The tropical Turtle Bay Resort was also used as a filming location to showcase the lush resort grounds. Additionally, the production team secured permits to film at the historic Iolani Palace in Honolulu to feature the only royal palace in the United States.

Organization and Planning

Filming a hit show like American Idol in a remote destination like Hawaii required extensive organization and planning to pull off successfully. According to inside reports, a seasoned production team worked for months in advance to secure filming permits, hotel rooms, local crew members, equipment rentals, and transportation.

Scheduling was key with the tight filming timeline across various locations on O’ahu. It’s estimated over 100 crew members worked behind the scenes to make this ambitious island filming possible between scouting locations, building sets, arranging catering, and coordinating equipment.

Careful budgeting and planning made the logistically challenging Hawaii filming achievable.

Expenses and Costs

While an exact budget was not disclosed, industry insiders estimate the costs for filming American Idol in Hawaii reached over $2 million when accounting for all expenses. From travel and accommodations for the cast and crew members to securing iconic filming locations, costs add up quickly.

Payment for local Hawaii production crew members, transportation rentals, film equipment rentals, hotel event space rentals, catering, and insurance costs contributed to the hefty price tag. And that’s not even considering the major expense of transporting, housing, and paying the celebrity judges and mentor.

However, the Hawaiian island paradise offered a dramatic backdrop that aligned beautifully with the show’s brand.

Contestants and Performances from Hawaii Auditions

Successful Contestants

The Hawaii auditions for American Idol have produced several successful contestants over the years who made it far in the competition or found fame afterwards.

In season 4, Jasmine Trias from Mililani, Hawaii wowed the judges and viewers with her smooth vocals. She placed 3rd that season, the highest by a Hawaii native in the show’s run. Her most memorable performances included renditions of “Inseparable” and “When You Believe”.

Another standout was Camile Velasco from Haiku, Maui in season 3. Her soulful, raspy voice earned praise for covers like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Son of a Preacher Man”. She finished 9th and later released her own album.

More recently in 2018, Alyssa Raghu from Orlando originally but with Hawaiian roots made it to the top 24 during her audition in Honolulu. The then 15-year old impressed with “Almost Is Never Enough” and ultimately placed 10th.

Notable Auditions

The Aloha State has hosted American Idol’s mobile audition bus over the years, where aspiring singers line up for their big shot at stardom.

While not everyone makes it through, many deliver fun and entertaining auditions. Like season 10 contestant Kermit Tyler who donned a furry green costume channelling his “Kermit the Frog” namesake. And season 7 singer David Salsbery whose original song “Hene Hene Kou ‘Aka” reflected on his Hawaiian culture.

Others showcased impressive musical talent before being cut, like Andrew Rohozinski wowing judges with a ukulele rendition of “Proud Mary” in season 17 and Makalani Hill flooring everyone with a powerful performance of “One Moment in Time” in season 18.

The Hawaii auditions have uncovered some true raw talents throughout American Idol’s storied run. And will likely continue to do so for seasons to come!


In summary, American Idol held auditions in Hawaii during Seasons 6, 7 and 8 in 2007 and 2008.

Hundreds of hopeful contestants tried out in front of the judges, resulting in a handful of Hawaiians making it all the way to Hollywood.

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