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Where Have I Seen That Island?

Where Have I Seen That Island?

Some movies are clearly shot on island locations, but where exactly are those beaches and palm fronds and mountains and volcanoes and huts? It’s important to know—purely to investigate the culture, ecology, and history of said island, and not because it would make a great place to vacation. Certain movie franchises, like James Bond and Pirates of the Caribbean, are filmed on pretty much every beautiful tropical island. There are far too many to catalog them all here, but we will touch on some. (
Photo: Rainer Körner

Some movies are clearly shot on island locations, but where exactly are those beaches and palm fronds and mountains and volcanoes and huts? It’s important to know—purely to investigate the culture, ecology, and history of said island, and not because it would make a great place to vacation.

Certain movie franchises, like James Bond and Pirates of the Caribbean, are filmed on pretty much every beautiful tropical island. There are far too many to catalog them all here, but we will touch on some. (Note to island-lubbers in the film industry: those are the movies you want to work on.) Click ahead to learn where some of those, and dozens of other TV shows and movies, were shot.

By Colleen Kane
Posted 21 April 2011

Skye Highland, Scotland, United Kingdom

You might recognize it from: Stardust, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Holy Hand Grenade scene), Highlander, Breaking the Waves, The Land that Time Forgot. the opening scenes in Flash Gordon (1980), and the final scene in Dragonslayer
Photo: Derek Croucher | Getty Images & 20th Century Fox

You might recognize it from: Stardust, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Holy Hand Grenade scene), Highlander, Breaking the Waves, The Land that Time Forgot. the opening scenes in Flash Gordon (1980), and the final scene in Dragonslayer


When Lars Von Trier filmed his first movie in English, 1996’s Breaking the Waves, he shot some outdoor scenes on the west coast of the largest island in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye. The graveyard was built for the movie and was left there after the shoot.

Santa Catalina Island, California, U.S.

You might recognize it from: Into the Wild, Jaws, Chinatown, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Waterworld, Far and Away, the final scene of Suicide Kings, Mutiny on the Bounty Catalina is situated in the Channel Islands off Calfornia’s southern coast, about 22 miles from Los Angeles, so it has hosted film and television shoots for decades. The island even has a non-native herd of about 150 bison, the first generation of which is said to have been brought in for a film shoot in 1924 of The Vanishing Ameri
Photo: Jeff Foott | Discovery Channel Images | Getty Images & Paramount Vintage

You might recognize it from: Into the Wild, Jaws, Chinatown, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Waterworld, Far and Away, the final scene of Suicide Kings, Mutiny on the Bounty

Catalina is situated in the Channel Islands off Calfornia’s southern coast, about 22 miles from Los Angeles, so it has hosted film and television shoots for decades. The island even has a non-native herd of about 150 bison, the first generation of which is said to have been brought in for a film shoot in 1924 of The Vanishing American, a Western.

O'ahu Hawaiian Islands, U.S.

You might recognize it from: LOST, Avatar, Hawaii Five-0 (2010 series), Forgetting Sarah Marshall, From Here to Eternity, Pearl Harbor, Magnum, P.I., and the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) were also shot here.
Photo: Sean Davey | Getty Images & ABC

You might recognize it from: LOST, Avatar, Hawaii Five-0 (2010 series), Forgetting Sarah Marshall, From Here to Eternity, Pearl Harbor, Magnum, P.I., and the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) were also shot here.


No matter what you thought of the series, LOST always set its (mostly) beautiful cast in lush tropical landscapes, and was basically a tourism commercial for Hawaii. Although the series had scenes set in various continents (and time periods, and realities), most of the series was shot on O’ahu, the island also called “The Gathering Place,” including scenes that were supposed to be set in places across the globe, like Iowa, South Korea, and Australia. But this topic is best left to the obsessives at Lost Virtual Tour, who have chronicled the locations (known and speculated) for every scene in the six seasons of the series.

Malta

You might recognize it from: The DaVinci Code, Munich, Troy, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gladiator, Game of Thrones series, Orca, Swept Away (2002), Cutthroat Island, PopeyeThe village of Sweethaven was constructed at Anchor Bay for the 1980 movie Popeye, starring Robin Williams, and still stands today as a popular tourist attraction. Malta’s is an attractive filming location due no doubt in part to the tax incentives, rebates, and other incentives when films are shot there.
Photo: Steve Allen | The Image Bank | Getty Images & Touchstone Pictures

You might recognize it from: The DaVinci Code, Munich, Troy, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gladiator, Game of Thrones series, Orca, Swept Away (2002), Cutthroat Island, Popeye

The village of Sweethaven was constructed at Anchor Bay for the 1980 movie Popeye, starring Robin Williams, and still stands today as a popular tourist attraction. Malta’s is an attractive filming location due no doubt in part to the tax incentives, rebates, and other incentives offered when films are shot there.

Kaua'i, Hawaiian Islands, U.S.

You might recognize it from: Gilligan’s Island, Blue Hawaii, South Pacific, Just Go With It, Avatar, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean: at World’s End (2007), Tropic Thunder, Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Godzilla (1998), The Amazing Race, Lord of the Flies (1990), Six Days Seven Nights, Body Heat, George of the Jungle, and The Thorn Birds TV miniseries. It was also used as a location for upcoming films Soul Surfer (2011) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strang
Photo: Don Smith | Getty Images & Walt Disney Studios

You might recognize it from: Gilligan’s Island, Blue Hawaii, South Pacific, Just Go With It, Avatar, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean: at World’s End (2007), Tropic Thunder, Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Godzilla (1998), The Amazing Race, Lord of the Flies (1990), Six Days Seven Nights, Body Heat, George of the Jungle, and The Thorn Birds TV miniseries. It was also used as a location for upcoming films Soul Surfer (2011) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). 

Gilligan’s Island didn’t look as massive as Kaua’i, the 21st largest island in the U.S., when they showed it from afar in the opening credits, did it? That’s because the island shown in the far-away shot at the beginning of the Gilligan’s Island opening credits from seasons two and three is actually a much smaller island—Coconut Island, within the Hawaiian archipelago. This and more information about Gilligan’s locations can be found here.

Jamaica

You might recognize it from: Papillon, Dr. No, Live and Let Die, A Perfect Getaway, CocktailAlthough it was created by Englishman Ian Fleming, the James Bond 007 series was written in Jamaica, where he vacationed to escape English winters. Dr. No was shot entirely on location in Jamaica, as were parts of Live and Let Die. Ian Fleming's Jamaican home, Goldeneye, is now owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who worked on the Dr. No set as a location scout as a 15 year-old. For a 60-page
Photo: Ian Cumming | Getty Images & Allied Artists

You might recognize it from: Papillon, Dr. No, Live and Let Die, A Perfect Getaway, Cocktail

Although it was created by Englishman Ian Fleming, the James Bond 007 series was written in Jamaica, where he vacationed to escape English winters. Dr. No was shot entirely on location in Jamaica, as were parts of Live and Let Die. Ian Fleming's Jamaican home, Goldeneye, is now owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who worked on the Dr. No set as a location scout as a 15 year-old. For a 60-page illustrated essay on Fleming in Jamaica, see Fleming’s Jamaica.

Monuriki, Mamanuka Islands, Fiji

You might recognize it from: Main location for Cast Away, the 2000 Robert Zemeckis film starring Tom HanksCast Away is the only movie shot on this island, but it certainly gets a lot of attention. Several Fiji islanders worked on the set and were given some of the tools they used, according to Imdb.com. There are now Cast Away tours focusing on primary locations as well as the local flora and fauna.
Chris Williams | Black Box | Getty Images & DreamWorks Studios

You might recognize it from: Main location for Cast Away, the 2000 Robert Zemeckis film starring Tom Hanks

Cast Away is the only movie shot on this island, but it certainly gets a lot of attention. Several Fiji islanders worked on the set and were given some of the tools they used, according to IMDB.com. There are now Cast Away tours focusing on primary locations as well as the local flora and fauna.

Dominican Republic

You might recognize it from: Apocalypse Now, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jurassic Park, Fast and Furious (2009) The Godfather Part II, Miami Vice (2006)Filming on the 2006 movie version of Miami Vice was suspended for three days during October 2005 following a shooting by a local cop who was trying to gain access to the set. Star Jamie Foxx returned to the United States and refused to shoot any more scenes outside the country, causing the ending (originally set in Par
Photo: Buena Vista Images | Getty Images & Universal Pictures

You might recognize it from: Apocalypse Now, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jurassic Park, Fast and Furious (2009) The Godfather Part II, Miami Vice (2006)

Filming on the 2006 movie version of Miami Vice was suspended for three days during October 2005 following a shooting by a local cop who was trying to gain access to the set. Star Jamie Foxx returned to the United States and refused to shoot any more scenes outside the country, causing the ending (originally set in Paraguay) to be rewritten.

Canary Islands, Spain

You might recognize it from: Clash of the Titans (2010) / Wrath of Titans (2012), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, One Million Years B.C., Journey to the Centre of the Earth, The Land that Time Forgot,classic Doctor Who episodes, Krull, The Martian ChroniclesFor decades, the isles of the Canarian Archipelago have been used for numerous film and television appearances, especially when the scenes call for an other-wordly and/or prehistoric appearance. Teide National Park on the isle of Teneri
Photo: Per-Andre Hoffmann | Getty Images & Warner Bros. Pictures

You might recognize it from: Clash of the Titans (2010), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, One Million Years B.C., Journey to the Centre of the Earth, The Land that Time Forgot, classic Doctor Who episodes, Krull, The Martian Chronicles, and it will also appear in and the upcoming Wrath of Titans (2012)


For decades, the isles of the Canarian Archipelago have been used for numerous film and television appearances, especially when the scenes call for an other-wordly and/or prehistoric appearance. Teide National Park on the isle of Tenerife, which has Spain’s tallest mountain and the world’s third tallest volcano, appeared in two such ancient-times films: Clash of the Titans and One Million Years B.C.

Bora-Bora, Tahiti, French Polynesia

You might recognize it from: Mutiny on the Bounty, Couples Retreat, and the 2002 Vin Diesel action film xXx, the latter two which were filmed at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, and the Sofitel Motu, respectivelyMarlon Brando’s on-set hijinks were in full force during filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, according anecdotes from Peter Manso’s Brando biography cited on IMDB.com. Aside from reportedly splitting dozens of pairs of costume breeches with his fluctuating weight, he recruited members of the
Photo: Medioimages | Photodisc | Getty Images & Universal Pictures

You might recognize it from: Mutiny on the Bounty, Couples Retreat, and the 2002 Vin Diesel action film xXx, the latter two which were filmed at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, and the Sofitel Motu, respectively

Marlon Brando’s on-set hijinks were in full force during filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, according anecdotes from Peter Manso’s Brando biography cited on IMDB.com. Aside from reportedly splitting dozens of pairs of costume breeches with his fluctuating weight, he recruited members of the crew to decorate his friends’ Tahiti wedding, and flew in hams, turkey, and cases of champagne for parties.