Enjoy a brush with Hollywood in the Caribbean by visiting nautical sites where famous movies were filmed. Here is a sampling of ten.
1. Magens Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn
The one-mile heart-shaped stretch of white sand beach at Magens Bay was the after-dark shooting site for a scene in the 2011 American-made romantic fantasy. Edward (Robert Pattison) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) are two vampires celebrating their nuptials in the moonlight on the sand and in the surf. This was the last scene shot in the movie. Those in the know say the actors wrapped up the night scene with cocktails and stayed on the beach to watch the sunrise.
2. Water Island, USVI
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Brad Pitt fans take note. In 2008, Brad himself sat on Honeymoon Beach along with Cate Blanchett to film a 30-second sunset scene in this romantic drama, based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald of a man (Pitt) that ages backward. Water Island, located in the western end of Charlotte Amalie harbor, is home to a residential community who weren’t all happy when their little island’s beautiful beach was closed for a day of filming. Yet it was only a day, and anyone can visit Honeymoon Beach albeit by boat only as there is no bridge from the harbor.
3. Waters of Salt Island, BVI
The 1867 wreck of the RMS Rhone off the coast of Salt Island was featured in the 1977 film, The Deep. The thriller based on a novel by Peter Benchley, stars Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset. The Rhone scene includes Bisset diving in a T-shirt. The Rhone, a former UK Royal Mail Ship wrecked during a hurricane with over 120 souls lost, is a popular scuba diving site. Today, instead of Bisset, divers can greet a barracuda the locals lovingly call ‘Fang’.
4. Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
It was on the beautiful beach here that talk-to-the animal’s veterinarian, Dr. Dolittle, finally caught up with the object of his sea-search, the Great Pink Sea Snail. This happened in the 1967 version of the film, starring Rex Harrison as Dr. Dolittle. Interestingly, because many of the island’s children had just been inflicted with severe stomach upset caused by fresh water snails, several angry adults threw stones at the movie’s big snail-shaped prop. In 2011, Eddie Murphy, who played the namesake doctor in the 1998 remake, Dr. Doolittle 2, didn’t shoot any scenes at Marigot Bay, but he did pull his 230-foot megayacht, Sherakhan, in for a visit. Today, you can dine at the namesake Doolittle’s Restaurant and Bar. You won’t find any snails, but you’ll see lots of fish swimming alongside the jetty.
5. Hampstead Beach, Dominica
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Captain Jack Sparrow, aka Johnny Depp, staged an epic three-way swordfight between himself, Will Turner (actor Orlando Bloom) and James Norrington (actor James Davenport) near Hampstead Beach. The specific site is a waterwheel, which in the 2006-released movie comes loose and rolls down the hill during the fight. Hampstead Beach, a beautiful stretch of black sand located on Dominica’s northeast coast, can be hard to find. There are no signs and it’s at the end of an unmarked road. Plus, rough waves and cold water keeps most visitors away. Still, the reward for finding it is a lush setting and knowing this is where Depp actually stepped. Nearby, the village of Vielle Case is where set builders constructed an old church where the sword play starts.
6. Clifton Heritage Park, Nassau, Bahamas
The Bahamas largest historical, ecological and leisure park was the location for the 2015-released thriller, Isolation. The plot is based on the true events of Lydia Masterson (played by actress Tricia Helfer) and her husband Creighton (actor Luke Mably) who have the vacation from Hell on a remote island where they end up fighting for their lives in a bone-chilling game of cat-and-mouse. The 208-acre landmark park is open to the public. You can take a guided tour of a great house, stone wharf, carriage house and spectacular beaches. This is also where parts of the movie, Jaws: the Revenge, was filmed in 1987.
7. Wallilabou Bay, St. Vincent
Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl
This quaint bay, located on the leeward coast north of Barrouallie, has long been a favorite anchorage of cruising sailors. Pirates, as well as an entire Disney film crew, took over in the early 2000s when the bay was turned into a replica of the legendary pirate haunt, Port Royal. It’s on a dock here that Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) famously steps ashore just as his small boat sinks into the sea. Parts of the set still stand, albeit in disrepair. However, with a little imagination you can still picture Depp swaggering around.
8. Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua
Strange things start to happen to a young couple after they find and sell an ancient artifact in this 2011-released Caribbean mythic movie. Shot on location in historic Nelson’s Dockyard by HAMA films, the flick has won acclaim at film festivals from Toronto to Trinidad & Tobago. There’s no need to be a movie star to visit the dockyard. This largest of Antigua’s National Parks is open daily. The Dockyard also serves as the site of several nautical happenings throughout the year such as Antigua Sailing Week, the Antigua & Barbuda Sports Fishing Tournament, and New Year’s Day celebration around the capstan.
9. Bacolet Bay, Tobago
Swiss Family Robinson
You wouldn’t feel shipwrecked long if you swam ashore at this beautiful bay that is now an upscale residential neighborhood located minutes out of the capital, Scarborough. Yet back in 1960, this beach was in one of the opening scenes of the Disney movie, specifically when the family and all their animals swam ashore. The story goes that the filmmakers wanted to shoot in what is now Sri Lanka or East Africa, but looked closer to their Burbank, California studios, in the Caribbean. Sites on Jamaica and Trinidad didn’t fit the bill, but Tobago is just what they were looking for. The movie stars the late UK actor, John Mills.
10. Cas Abao Beach and Playa Porto Marie, Curaçao
Tula – The Revolt
This 2013-released historical drama is about a slave named Tula (played by actor, Obi Abili), who led a 1795 slave revolt on the island. Locations included Cas Abao Beach, on the northwest coast of the island, and Playa Porto Maria, which is near the village of Sint Willibrordus. Happily, today there is no need to revolt, but instead revel in the sun, sand and sea of these two beaches.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.