Dear Matthew Alice:
I'm dying to know where the huge wave at the beginning of Hawaii Five-0 was filmed.
-- Mark Plazak, La Jolla; and Paul Hunter, Clairemont; Jay Smith, North Park
All you nonsurfers should know that this question is very serious business. Everyone who ever waxed a board has an opinion about where this wave is. People started speculating the minute the show hit the air. Up to now, the subject has been long on rumors, short on facts. With considerable detective work, we tracked down the man who shot the wave and put together the title sequence for Hawaii Five-0, L.A. TV director Reza Badiyi.
So when we asked Badiyi where he filmed the wave, searching his memory back 23 years he admitted he didn't remember the name of the place. It was December of 1967, on Oahu, and the show's producer had given Badiyi five days to get as much footage as he could for the titles. He spent the first four days in Honolulu shooting film while hanging off the edges of buildings, riding on the hood of a speeding police car, every place he could think of. But he still lacked the perfect visual symbol for Hawaii, a big wave. With only one day left to shoot, he asked a location scout to take him to the best spot for waves. The scout took him to the north shore.
As Badiyi recalls it, they left ther car in a small park and walked around a wooden fence and down an embankment to get to the beach itself. Once on the beach they walked to the left, shooting footage as they went. Eventually they came to what Badiyi remembers as a "rocky peninsula." It's from this outcrop that he filmed one of the most famous images on television. He spent hours there and at one point was even knocked into the water when a particularly big wave caught him by surprise. He just replaced the film magazine and kept on shooting.
Armed with those details, my most reliable sources (among them Surfing magazine senior editor Sam George) believe the description fits Ehukai Beach Park, one entrance to a series of North Shore breaks that includes Pipeline, Off the Wall, Backdoor, and Rock Pile. Rock Pile has the kind of peninsula Badiyi described, and the break comes in from the outside toward the peninsula. It would be possible for someone there to be knocked into the water by a particularly big wave. Sam George himself conferred with Badiyi and agrees that Rock Pile is the location.
Originally, Badiyi was to be paid $200 every time the titles were shown on TV. But early in the first year, the producer decided the show wouldn't last too long on the air and offered him a flat $5000 instead, the equivalent of about two years' worth of broadcasts. Badiyi recalls that he shrugged and said okay. The show ran 13 seasons and has been in reruns for decades. The good-natured Badiyi admits he shrugged away a fortune.