Sandy shores draw more than just curious tourists looking for a tropical escape. This is most evident in the number of famous scenes from the movies we know and love which are shot in the Caribbean. Filmmakers are right on the money for choosing the region for this purpose, as the Caribbean avails production crews a wide variety of stunning backdrops, most within close proximity of each other. As most of the islands in the Caribbean are relatively small, it is generally easy to get around, thus making it easier for crews to navigate.
The Bahamas is one of the locations in the Caribbean which has seen some serious star power with numerous world-famous films having been shot on the shores of its islands. The fierceness of that fact is complemented by the laid back nature of the people who reside in these islands – more down-to-earth fans and less populated islands means that films can be shot without unnecessary delay!
From action packed James Bond films, to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Bahamas is a top choice for Hollywood filmmakers. Here are a few of the most famous movies shot on Bahamian shores:
2006 & 2007 | Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
Picture: Beach in Little Exuma, the Bahamas
Pirates of the Caribbean is probably one of the most famous movies filmed in the Caribbean. Every single island benefited in some way from this movie, simply for being part of this strikingly beautiful region. There are several installments of this movie, and in Dead Man’s Chest, the Bahamas makes a spectacular appearance. Filmed near Little Exuma is the notorious duel between Norrington, Sparrow and Turner. In another chapter, At World’s End, White Cay also known as Sandy Cay in the Bahamas and is quite the appropriate spot for an intense conversation with pirates!
1965 & 1983 | Sean Connery
Picture: Thunderball Grotto in the Bahamas
Die-hard James Bond fans know that some of the most memorable scenes from ‘Thunderball’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’ are shot in the Bahamas. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas is the focal destination for these flicks set apart by almost two decades. Staniel Cay, a picturesque location in the chain of Exuma islands (The Exumas), is the location for a famous underwater fight scene from the films, and the area has for that reason and others grown in popular for the scuba crowd. In fact, the Thunderball Grotto (named after the movie) is a top choice diving and snorkeling site now. Love Beach and Clifton Pier are also featured, with the bulk of filming being done in the capital. Both movies highlight similar locations, with new locations including the Tears of Allah Wreck and Villa 1085 appearing in ‘Never Say Never Again’.
Insider tip: Thunder ball Grotto in the Bahamas is a top choice diving and snorkeling site located in Staniel Cay which features a spectacular underwater cave system. Tours are available from Sandals’ all-inclusive resort in Exuma.
1991 | Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
Bimini is quite a scary place – only in the movies!
Scenes from the movie ‘Silence of the Lambs’ since its production have made several lists for the ‘Scariest Film Locations in the World’. It’s hard to believe that the sunny shores of the Bahamas would ever be included in any listing of that nature, but for the production of ‘Silence of the Lambs’, the Bahamas is not left out. Featured briefly in a scene depicting Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) during his sunny ‘retirement’, the Bahamas is again promoted, whether indirectly, as a tropical haven made for recapturing peace of mind. The scene was shot on South Bimini in the Bahamas. Bimini Island is the closest island to the United States, and it is known as loved for its serene nature. When it’s not being used to shoot horror/detective classics that is! Famous people including Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett and even Martin Luther King, Jr. have spent time on this island seeking inspiration and relaxation!
1965 | John, Paul, George and Ringo
Picture: Sandals Royal Bahamian on Cable Beach. The Beatles stayed here during the shooting of the 'HELP!' movie and shot the video clip for 'Another Girl' on the private island - also owned by Sandals.
The Bahamas and the Beatles go hand in hand for the production of ‘Help!’ a musical compilation of the Beatles, which is a follow-up to ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, the Beatles’ first film. Shot on Paradise Island, the movie features some of the best tracks by the Fab Four including ‘Ticket to Ride’, ‘You’re Going to Lose That Girl’ and, their hit song, ‘Help!’. In 1965 The Beatles stayed at the glitzy Balmoral Club on Cable Beach, which later changed to Sandals Royal Bahamian. Not far out from the resort, The Beatles went to a private island (also owned by Sandals) to shoot their ‘Another Girl’ video clip.
1973 | Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah
The entertainment industry’s Caribbean patronage continues with ‘Splash’. Featuring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, this love story unfolds on the famous Castaway Cay. In the movie, actor Tom Hanks encounters a nude Daryl Hannah on the island, who is a mermaid that he ends up falling in love with. He is forced to make the difficult decision of whether to continue life as usual on dry land, or follow his heart into the depths of the ocean. If you still haven’t seen this flick, don’t worry, we’re not about to spoil it for you. What we will say is that Castaway Cay, formerly known as Gorda Cay, is absolutely stunning, and is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. It is located near Great Abaco Island. We doubt you’ll encounter any mermaids, but if you do, we’d be happy to hear about it!
2006 | Daniel Craig
Moments after a sea plane comes in for a smooth landing in Nassau, a finely suited Bond makes his way onto a tropical island, as luxury boats bob in the background, and helicopters hover above. The actor hops into a waiting car, and the rest of his drive captures more spectacular scenery, including a local market, school children at the side of the road, and the pure and mostly untampered with beauty of the Bahamas. This is one of the most memorable scenes from ‘Casino Royale’ shot in the Bahamas.
1985 | Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Tahnee Welch, Steve Guttenberg
Picture: Bimini Road
In this underwater fantasy film, American film-maker and actor Ron Howard tells the under worldly story of a team of aliens on a mission to save their compatriots who were left behind post Atlantis. Interestingly, some islands in the Bahamas like Bimini have histories which are tied (according to urban legend) to the mystical city of Atlantic. Bimini Road for one is said to be a remnant of the legendary Lost City of Atlantis. The film ‘Cocoon’ in its own way highlights some of these urban legends, including that of famed explorer, Ponce de León, who allegedly was led to Bimini in the early 1500 in search of the ‘Fountain of Youth’. In one of the scenes of ‘Cocoon’, residents of a nursing home make a spectacular discovery, which revolves around a swimming pool charged with ‘life-force energy’ that they use to reverse the effects of aging. The underwater scenes of ‘Cocoon’ were filmed at South Ocean, which is located to the East of Nassau.
1997 | Sandra Bullock, Willem Dafoe
Picture: Tongue of the Ocean, south of Nassau.
Much of this movie which features famed actors Sandra Bullock and Willem Dafoe was shot in the duel island nation of St. Martin. This was the sequel to ‘Speed’, which sky-rocketed the careers of Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Reeves however, is missing in action in ‘Speed Control’, which highlights some of the beauty of the Bahamas. Tongue of the Ocean, located to the south of Nassau in the Bahamas was rightly chosen for the underwater scenes, but not for the reason you might think. In fact, this was probably the only occasion where the clear and pristine waters of the Bahamas actually proved to be a problem. From post movie accounts, the director had divers manually sprinkle sediment to make the scene appear more granular. Whatever works!
1954 |Kirk Douglas, James Mason
Picture: New Providence Island, the Bahamas.
‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ is notably one of the first movies filmed under water. Starring Kirk Douglas as Ned Land and James Mason as Captain Nemo, this is a family friendly movie that still remains relevant today. A classic Disney film, the movie features several Caribbean sites, as the actors embark on a family vacation. At the time when the movie was shot with a budget of around $9 million, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made. The underwater scenes in this flick were filmed near New Providence Island, where you can find the capital city, Nassau. To this day, there is a ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ submarine located in Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, which can be found on scuba diving excursions!
2005 | Paul Walker
Paul Walker is at his best in the film ‘Into the Blue’. The late actor, made even more famous for his part in the ‘Fast and the Furious’ movies makes bold and daring moves in this movie shot in the Bahamas, which features scenes with live sharks! During filming the crew wore protective gear, but some of the actors reportedly did not. In any case, the success of the film proves that their risks were not in vain, and that sometimes it really does pay off to live on the edge!
1996 | Elijah Wood, Paul Hogan
Picture: Lyford Cay, close to 'Jaws Beach' in the west of New Providence Island.
Who doesn’t love Flipper? The movie tells the story of a friendship between a boy and a dolphin that will absolutely steal your heart. Though the main storyline of the 1963 movie is set in Florida, many of the scenes from Flipper were actually shot in the Bahamas. The fact that the Bahamas is famous for its pristine beaches and prolific marine life; it’s no surprise that filmmakers chose this location for the classic film. The set was built on a beach between Lyford Cay and Clifton Pier.
Tip: Want to swim with the dolphins? There are lots of tour operators in the Bahamas offering this activity, so be sure to shop around to find one that’s right for you.
1987 | Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles and Michael Caine.
Picture: Cessna plane wreck, purposefully crash landed for Jaws IV.
There are plenty of underwater sites to explore in the Bahamas including the cockpit of the DC3 plane wreck from Into the Blue, the Tears of Allah wreck from James Bond’s ‘Never Say Never Again’ and Thunderball’s Vulcan Bomber. There is also the Cessna plane which was purposefully crash landed for Jaws IV. It is now a popular undersea exploration site for scuba divers. Jaws: The Revenge was shot in New England, and in the Bahamas. Notably, the film reached completion in less than nine months!
Movies have a way of bringing people together, and films shot in the Caribbean have a way of luring tourists to the region to get a taste of the famous scenes from Hollywood blockbusters which at one point, had them hanging off the edge of their seats. Of all the movies shot in the Caribbean, a significant number are shot in the Bahamas. A visit to the islands which feature great accommodation and a wide range of activities will show you why.
Check out our article on the best time to visit the Bahamas to find out more!
Quite a number of famous movies sites in the Bahamas are located underwater, so it’s a good idea to ensure you’re scuba diving certified before getting there, or once you arrive to your island of choice. The Bahamas is a great place to get PADI Scuba Diving Certification as there are sites which are great for both advanced and newbie scuba divers.
Insider tip: Scuba diving is included in your stay at both Sandals’ all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas. If you are not PADI certified yet, you can get certified within 48 hours for an additional 100 USD and dive the rest of your stay – for free!
Spotting celebrities is just another common happening in the Bahamas, and perhaps that would explain the laid back nature of the people who encounter them, and why stars love going to the Bahamas, and by extension the Caribbean. Whether they come for work or play, they’re able to do that in the absence of throngs of frantic fans. That is not to say they don’t have any fans that recognize them in that part of the world, but that the culture of the region as it relates to the reception of celebrities is in a lot of cases subdued much due to the easygoing nature of the people. Whatever the case, the Caribbean is a win-win for film-makers and tourists alike!