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No Place but the Ilikai

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

We saw the Ilikai Hotel many times during Five-0's 12-year reign. Here are a few shots that show just how impressive this building was -- it still is today! It was built between 1962 and 1964 by Chinn Ho, a Hawaiian businessman, who brought in architect John Graham, who designed the Seattle Space Needle, to design the hotel. Yes, Detective Chin Ho Kelly took his name from Mr. Chinn.

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Let's start with the main entrance, the rise up which McGarrett zipped before screeching to a halt and running up the front steps. The facade has been updated, but the rise is still there. So are the steps, but they don't look the same -- they look much nicer with one of Wyland's dolphin sculptures midway up. The changes were made to add an escalator and elevator in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1991.

The front entrance was seen in numerous episodes. Here are two of note:

-- The entrance was seen several times in "One Born Every Minute" (Season 6), especially when a tourist leaped to his death after being conned out of money he had borrowed in hopes of making a lucrative investment. He landed in the driveway!

-- The drive way also played an important role in "A Bullet for El Diablo" (Season 6) when the dictator's daughter was delivered to the hotel to be reunited with him following her kidnapping -- except . . . I won't give it away. Watch it. It's good, and the twist in the tale is quite surprising. It was seen in several other episodes when distinguished visitors came to the Islands.

Leonard Freeman Productions / CBS Television, 1971.

Let us never forget the glass elevator. It appeared in several episodes, perhaps most notably in these two:

-- In "FOB Honolulu" (Part 2, Season 3), Nicole Fleming (Sabrina Scharf) went to the Ilikai in an effort to throw off the Five-0 team before she met Commander Nicholson (John McMartin). She took the elevator up to the Top of the I restaurant, where she told the maitre d' "just looking" with gum-smacking arrogance, then rode the elevator back down with Chin Ho looking on from below. Even so, she managed to pull a muumuu over her sundress and don a wig and sunglasses before the elevator reached the first floor.

-- In "Bomb, Bomb, Who's Got the Bomb" (Season 7), McGarrett doesn't just ride in the elevator. He rides on top of it! It's happens during a struggle with Senator Harlan Henderson (William Windom) before the troubled mind can set off a bomb on the hotel roof.


McGarrett visited The Canoe House, a bar that actually existed, in "The Last Eden" (Season 3). He visited the entertainer, Jimmy (Ray Danton), both in the bar and on the deck that overlooks the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.


We can't overlook the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. It stands directly behind the Ilikai and sets the stage for numerous scenes throughout the series.

-- Here, McGarrett was nearly killed when the tender on which he was riding exploded in "Force of Waves" (Season 3).

-- Here, Sandi Wells (Amanda McBroom) boarded a yacht that had been commandeered by professional assassins in "Tour de Force, Killer Aboard" (Season 9). In that same episode, the yachting tournament terminated near Diamond Head, but the partying took place at the Yacht Harbor.

-- McGarrett moored his sailboat there in "Man in a Steel Frame" (Season 9) and "You Don't See Many Pirates These Days" (Season 10).

The list could go on and on. Two-bedroom suites were seen in "3,000 Crooked Miles to Honolulu" (Season 4), "30,000 Rooms, and I Have the Key" (Season 6), "You Don't See Many Pirates These Days," (Season 10), "East Wind-Ill Wind" (Season 10), "The Pagoda Factor" (Season 11), and others.


Jack and Marie lived in a penthouse apartment at the Ilikai (No. 2613) from the time Five-0 began filming in the summer of 1968 and 1971, when they bought their condominium in Kahala. In the opening credits, Jack is seen standing on his own lanai! Certain members of the staff at the Ilikai had hoped to acquire it in order to make a Hawaii Five-0 museum there, but the price was prohibitive.

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