Every good drama needs a place for its characters to hang out or simply stake out criminals who make their lives or jobs difficult. In the case of CBS’ brand-new “NCIS” spinoff, “NCIS: Hawaii,” that place is Helena’s, a rough-around-the-edges, airy oceanside bar where a fight could break out at any minute, and the NCIS Pearl Harbor team tries to puzzle out clues connected to their latest case. There’s even a helpful, appropriately wry bartender stationed behind the bar, ready and willing to supply the team with shots and news about what their latest suspect has wrought.
Fans of the new spinoff might be surprised to know that “NCIS: Hawaii” is shot on location in various places throughout Oahu. According to Parade, filming kicked off in June 2021 with a traditional Hawai’ian blessing upon the production. Per Distractify, key filming locations for “NCIS: Hawaii” include Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, which viewers might guess considering this is an “NCIS” show. However, it’s unclear where some spots, including Helena’s, are filmed. Is Helena’s a real bar or not? Fortunately, we have the answer to that particular question on tap.
According to Distractify, the “NCIS: Hawaii” team has done some exterior and interior shooting in Honolulu, specifically at the Hawaii Film Studio on the island, in addition to the show’s Oahu shoots. While there is indeed a famous restaurant called Helena’s in Honolulu (via Yelp), it’s not quite the same bar that appears on the spinoff. Instead, the Helena’s bar that we see on “NCIS: Hawaii” is likely shot using a few different locations, including Waikiki Beach and some studio photography, but Distractify could not pinpoint the precise locale. Using multiple filming locations for “NCIS: Hawaii” appears to be standard practice, which helps us conclude the fictional Helena’s is a combination of locations.
The famous “Helena’s” establishment in Honolulu, which shares the fictional bar’s name, boasts a prestigious background. The real Helena’s Hawaiian Food has been a staple on the island since the 1940s. Per the official site, the restaurant is a James Beard Award-winning spot that prides itself in serving traditional Hawaiian cuisine. The real Helena’s has also appeared in such famous TV shows as “Man vs. Food.”