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Top Five Caribbean Filming Locations

by Moderator May 2011 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

Here at Virgin Atlantic we're enormous fans of the Caribbean, and as much as we relish relaxing on the islands' beautiful beaches and lapping up the view, we also love looking beyond the palm trees and seeing what else there is to offer. Regular vtravelled contributor David Whitley gets off the beaten track and discovers that the Caribbean has played host to many a famous face...

"It’s not just tourists who enjoy hanging out in the Caribbean – Hollywood film crews will find any excuse to go there, too. Whether it's James Bond, Jack Sparrow or Red and Andy from The Shawshank Redemption, many of our favourite movie characters have set foot in the West Indies. Why not follow in their footsteps?"

 

Jamaica

The films: Dr No and Cocktail

Despite almost 50 years of Bond films since, the scene of a bikini-clad Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in Dr No is still one of the most iconic in the series. Yet most people who go looking for the beach in question never find it – instead they end up at James Bond Beach, 20 minutes from Ocho Rios. This one is so named because Ian Fleming’s house overlooked it.

 

 

Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica by Coleong on Dreamstime.com

Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica by Coleong on Dreamstime.com

 

The filming was actually done at Laughing Waters beach. It’s at the bottom of Dunn’s River Falls, which also featured in Dr No and is one of the few cascades in the world that goes directly into the sea. Most hotels and taxi drivers will arrange tours from Ocho Rios to climb the falls, which can get quite crowded when the cruise ships are in. The falls also featured in the Tom Cruise cheese-fest, Cocktail.

 

The Bahamas

The films: Thunderball, Never Say Never Again, Casino Royale

It’s not just Jamaica that Bond has a penchant for – he keeps making his way to the Bahamas too. Much of Thunderball and its remake, Never Say Never Again, were shot there.

 

 

Thunderball Grotto, Bahamas by sailn1 on Flickr

Thunderball Grotto, Bahamas by sailn1 on Flickr

 

It's the diving scenes that both flicks are famous for. Two wrecks – the Vulcan bomber in Thunderball and the Tears of Allah in Never Say Never Again – can be found off the coast of Nassau, New Providence Island. There’s also Thunderball Grotto off Staniel Cay, where you can snorkel or dive.

The Bahamas Diving Association is the best first stop for organising dives to the Bond sites. Meanwhile, those wanting to stay where 007 stayed can try to book Villa 1085 at the One and Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island. These were Bond’s none-too-shabby digs in Casino Royale.

 

St Croix, US Virgin Islands

The film: The Shawshank Redemption

The final scene of the prison classic sees Red walk across a Mexican beach to his old pal Andy, who is fiddling with a boat. It wasn't filmed in Mexico at all, however, but in St Croix.

 

 

St Croix beach by Rnonstx on Dreamstime.com

St Croix beach by Rnonstx on Dreamstime.com

 

The beach is a two-mile crescent on the island’s southwestern tip, called Sandy Point, and is part of a national wildlife refuge as a major turtle hatching ground. It is therefore closed to visitors on weekdays and during the turtle nesting season.

The nearest settlement is Frederikstad and the relative isolation and limited opening hours keep it beautifully quiet. Just don’t expect parasols and sunloungers.

 

St Vincent, the Grenadines and Dominica

The films: Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy

The tiny village of Wallilabou in western St Vincent was the major filming location for the first movie. Many of the Port Royal sets still remain, if in a somewhat dilapidated state.

 

Scaramouch, Grenadines © Erika's Marine Services

Scaramouch, Grenadines © Erika's Marine Services

 

Vincy Aviation offers tours of other Pirates locations in the Grenadines while Erika’s can arrange day excursions on the Scaramouche, an old schooner that featured in the film.

 

For the second instalment of the trilogy, much of the filming was done in Dominica. Hampstead Beach in the northwest is where Jack Sparrow is chased by the locals, while the cannibal village scenes were shot at High Meadow in the south. Taxi drivers are more than happy to put together impromptu tours, while eco-lodges can arrange boat trips up the Indian River – which is where the characters went to visit the voodoo lady.

 

Puerto Rico

The films: Contact and Goldeneye

Jodie Foster’s alien-obsessed character in Contact begins on her quest for extra-terrestrial life at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This isn’t just movie magic, the place does exist and it’s home to the world’s largest radio telescope.

 

 

Arecibo Observatory by amelungc on Flickr

Arecibo Observatory by amelungc on Flickr

 

A giant dish in the middle of a forest, however, makes it look a little like a Bond villain’s base. It’s no surprise, therefore, that 007 has made the observatory one of his many Caribbean haunts. Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean fought each other on the giant antenna that sticks out of the dish.

The observatory is open to visitors, and the tours explain its role as an “ear to space”. Numerous tour companies head out there from San Juan.

Thanks to Flickr photographers amelungc and sailn1 for the great photos.

For flights to all our fantastic Caribbean destinations, log on to www.virginatlantic.com or visit Virgin Holidays for a tailor-made deal.


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ellenhochkramer October - last edited November Moderator

Apart from the 5 Caribbean Islands that you have mentioned, there are a lot more great Caribbean filming locations. With my company "Caribbean Production Service Company", we are filming all over the Caribbean, all year round for TV series, commercial shoots, music videos and high class fashion editorials and catalogues. So I do know that Barbados, St. Martin, St. Barts St. Lucia, Anguilla and many other Caribbean islands are not only places for a great beach holiday to find the Winter sun, but also popular shooting locations for stunning short films, video  and photographic productions as well.

You are right that since the Pirates of the Caribbean movies especially St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the shooting location Wallialabou are very popular. We had used it for a documentary re-enactment on Caribbean pirates. The same applies for Dominica and its Pirates of the Caribbean Filming locations.

In Barbados and the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe there is professional crew, grip, lighting, audio and a good selection of cameras available. So I do find it necessary to mention those Caribbean filming locations when we talk about top Caribbean filming locations. More images of Caribbean filming locations and a lot more about productions in the Caribbean is available on our company website: <removed>

 

For any further information, please contact us, all the best, Ellen Hoch-Kramer

 

MOD EDIT: Linked removed to comply with Blog Guidelines regarding spam.

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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.