The huge ship in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie is in Kanehoe Bay this week, shooting scenes with Hawaii’s starkly beautiful mountains as a backdrop. The bay is a sheltered area with magnificent views of the Koolau Mountain Range on the windward (eastern) side of the island of Oahu. Only a slight turn of the camera lens puts the ship at sea, with an unimpeded view of the Pacific Ocean.

The ship was referred to as the Black Pearl by many when it first arrived in Hawaii in February. However, this movie, subtitled On Stranger Tides, features the pirate Blackbeard and his ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. In this installment of the series, Captain Jack Sparrow (defined by Johnny Depp) is searching for the Fountain of Youth. Depp filmed a special greeting for the recent Comic Con in which he managed to spend almost two minutes and reveal only that if he were going on a search for the Fountain of Youth, it would be very dangerous and he’d need a map – and perhaps a Bloody Mary. The video greeting also set the movie release date as May 20, 2011.

The pirate ship is in Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor, located along the Kamehameha Highway opposite the Mokapu Peninsula, which is home to a Marine Corps Base. As you look at a map of the island of Oahu, the Mokapu Peninsula looks like the tail of a whale sticking out into the ocean. On the right side is Kailua Bay, ringed with a sandy beach that is perfect for kite boarding and wind surfing. President Obama stayed on this side of the peninsula in a house right next to the Marine base on his most recent trip. The left side of the peninsula is Kaneohe Bay, home to four boat harbors, including the public harbor in Heeia State Park.

If you take any of the circle island tours – either driving or on a bus – you’ll pass this area of Oahu. It’s a great opportunity to take a photo of yourself in an exotic movie location, even if the pirate ship has already sailed away.

Photo by Richard Denton.


  1. I love it! He was also filming in Kauai. There was a Starbucks sighting in Kapa’a. Also, Dan and I went on a zip line tour with Outfitters Kauai at Kipu Ranch, where a lot of movies have been filmed including Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark. During our tour we hung from a rope and dropped into a pond. They said Johnny was going to “walk on water” using that rope the following week. Pretty fun!

  2. Mahalo for the post, I would like to try getting over to Kaneohe to see the “Black Pearl” in person (and maybe meet Johnny for a Bloody Mary!)

  3. My significant other was sailing on the Bay this weekend and he went right by the boat and got a wave from Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz! I’m so jealous. It’s such a beautiful ship

  4. Ran into a woman at the market the other evening, she had taken her boat out on the water that morning with her friends and they were calling out to Johnny Depp who stepped out and started waving and yelling out Hey what’s up, how’s the water. They were joking for a bit and then they sailed on. But I thought that was cool, should have remembered the story better to know not to take the backroads home, the traffic was more clogged than usual of people taking pictures and trying to park, too bad I was too sick to do anything but catch a glimpse of it. It was intense seeing such a large pirate ship.

  5. The Windward side of Oahu is truly a must see. I grew up in Kailua and taking the drive home over the Pali, going thru the tunnels is wonderfully tranquil, giving you the feeling of fresh paradise. With amazing oceanviews of Kaneohe and Kailua Bay. And now with maybe sightings of Johnny Depp or ‘The Black Pearl’ make it even more exciting and another reason to head on over to the Oahu’s Windward Coast. You’ll be glad you did!

  6. Thanks for the post…I’ll be in Kaneohe this weekend and will definitely drive by to see this ship again. Saw it when it was docked at KoOlina a few months ago. My son’s classmate’s father will be an “extra” pirate for this movie…can’t wait to see it!

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