Before John Philbin could land the role of Turtle he had to convince the producers he could pull it off. So he flew to Hawaii for a few months prior to principal photography to get in shape, learn to surf, and perfect the local accent so his pidgin would sound convincing. He got so into surfing that to this day he still surfs and helps operate a surfing school.
As seen on the most recent DVD release of the film, originally the role of Kiani was played by another actress. However when she didn't work out they brought in Nia Peeples to re-shoot all her scenes. The film's original ending can be seen in the special features of the DVD.