24 Movies That Will Take You to the Caribbean Right Now

caribbean moviesJohnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.
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When Hollywood goes looking for a location that oozes tropical romance, it often turns to the Caribbean, which has been starring in both independent and big-budget films since the 1930s. Conversely, a handful of films produced in the Caribbean have found a wider audience by sharing the stories of island people, culture, and music with the world.

When you’re stuck at home and missing the Caribbean, pour yourself a rum drink and settle into your couch with one of these Caribbean-centric films, all of which were either set or filmed in the Caribbean.

Action/Adventure Movies:

caribbean movies

Live and Let Die: Set primarily in New Orleans and Jamaica, this 1973 James Bond film starring Roger Moore as 007 includes memorable scenes shot in Jamaica’s Green Grotto Caves, the alligator farm at J. Charles Swaby’s Black River Safari, the Rose Hall Great House, and the Half Moon and Sans Souci resorts.

Dr. No: The first James Bond movie, released in 1962, includes the memorable scene of “Bond Girl” Ursula Andress meeting Sean Connery on Jamaica’s Laughing Waters Beach. The film is set primarily in Jamaica — the island is the purported location of Dr. No’s secret lair — and other shooting locations include the Bauxite terminal in Ocho Rios, the Blue Mountains, the White River, Montego Bay, the Grand Port Royal Hotel in Kingston, and the former San Souci resort, now Couples San Souci.

Thunderball: The fourth James Bond film in the series brings 007 to the Bahamas, where he meets SPECTRE baddie Emilio Largo and engages in an underwater battle with his henchmen. Shot in Panavision, the big-screen action film includes a Junkanoo parade on Bay Street in Nassau, and other sites that make cameos in the movie include Love Beach, Rose Island, Clifton Pier, and Paradise Island.

The Thomas Crown Affair.

The Thomas Crown Affair: While the Caribbean is only a supporting actor in the art heist film, the island of Martinique takes a star turn when Pierce Brosnan’s Thomas Crown takes Insurance Investigator Catherine Banning (played by Rene Russo) on an impromptu trip to his villa on the Atlantic coast of Martinique.

The Island: The film adaptation of Peter Benchley’s modern-day pirate thriller was set in the Bahamas and largely filmed in Abaco and Antigua. The 1980 film pits Michael Caine against an isolated colony of French pirates who have been preying on sailors for centuries.

The Deep: Another Peter Benchley story, The Deep centers on a shipwreck dive gone wrong off the coast of Bermuda but was shot in the British Virgin Islands, including underwater sequences filmed near Peter Island and featuring the wreck of the HMS Rhone.

Third World Cop: A 1999 Jamaican action film about a Kingston man who joins the special forces to fight gun smugglers.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The five Johnny Depp-led Pirates of the Caribbean films have been a huge boost to Caribbean tourism in general and some less-traveled shooting locations in particular, including Dominica and St. Vincent. Islands appearing in the films include Little Exuma in the Bahamas, Petit Tabac in the Grenadines, Old San Juan and Fajardo in Puerto Rico and Samana in the Dominican Republic. The town of Port Royal, where the first film opens and is featured in most of the films, was based on the infamous pirate colony in Jamaica, but filmed in Wallaibou Bay on St. Vincent.

Countryman: A Jamaican fisherman is the hero of this 1982 action film produced by Island Records head (and Jamaica resident) Chris Blackwell. Edwin “Countryman” Lothan, a Rastafarian fisherman, played the title role, and the soundtrack is full of reggae classics.

Haven: Filmed entirely in the Cayman Islands, Haven is a tale of violent betrayal set in a paradisiacal background starring Bill Paxton, Zoe Saldana, and Orlando Bloom.

The Mighty Quinn: This Denzel Washington thriller about a Caribbean police chief who tries to protect a childhood friend accused of murdering a rich resort owner, was filmed in Port Antonio, Jamaica and at the Golden Clouds villa in Oracabessa.

The Tamarind Seed: “Mary Poppins” headed to the Caribbean in this 1974 film starring Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif and directed by Blake Edwards. The tale of a Cold War romance reaches its apex when the lovers meet on a Barbados beach. The spy movie was filmed in Barbados, London, and Paris.

Comedies:

Captain Ron: Something of a cult classic, this 1992 comedy starring Kurt Russell and Martin Short in a story about a misbegotten yacht cruise through the Caribbean. Much of the film was shot in Puerto Rico, including old San Juan, La Fortaleza, and the Puerto del Fuego Marina in Fajardo.

Cool Runnings: The late John Candy stars as a Canadian bobsled coach working with a team of Jamaicans to learn the sport so they can qualify for the winter Olympics. Verrrry loosely based on the true story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team. The 1992 comedy was filmed in Discovery Bay and Kingston.

Club Paradise: This 1986 comedy, a rare flop for Robin Williams, focuses on the chaotic operations of a Club Med style resort in the fictional island of St. Nicholas, populated by a familiar cast of tourists, reggae musicians, hoteliers, developers, and corrupt local officials. The movie was shot over four months in Jamaica, primarily in Portland, and co-stars reggae legend Jimmy Cliff and several other prominent Jamaicans.

Dramas:

Cocktail: Tome Cruise and Bryan Brown star as bartenders in this 1988 film that focuses on the two pursuing their dreams of owning their own bar. Cruise’s character spends years working at a bar in Jamaica to raise money — Jamaican filming locations included Dunn’s River Falls, Sandals Royal Plantation, Dragon Bay Beach, and the Jamaican Inn in Ocho Rios.

The Harder They Come: Often credited with introducing Jamaican reggae to the rest of the world, this 1972 movie stars Jimmy Cliff as lead character Ivanhoe “Ivan” Martin, following him from poverty in Kingston to musical stardom before descending into an outlaw existence. The movie was produced and shot in Kingston.

Dancehall Queen: Beenie Man recording the title song for this 1997 independent film shot in Jamaica, centering on the story of a street vendor who adopts the persona of a dancehall star to outwit two violent men.

To Have and Have Not: This 1944 classic starring Humphrey Bogart as an American expat and Lauren Bacall as his Resistance fighter wife was written by Ernest Hemingway and set in Martinique.

Safe in Hell: This racy 1931 film tells the story of a New Orleans woman who kills the man who forced her into prostitution, then flees to the fictional Caribbean island of Tortuga.

The Rum Diary.

The Rum Diary: A.k.a. the “other Johnny Depp Caribbean movie,” The Rum Diary was set (and mostly filmed in Puerto Rico); based on a Hunter S. Thompson book, the 2011 film stars Depp as a hard-drinking author and also includes scenes of Carnival in St. Thomas.

Romance:

How Stella Got Her Groove Back: In this 1998 romance, successful stockbroker Angela Bassett finds her “groove” on a vacation in Jamaica when she meets a young Taye Diggs and embarks on a sultry love affair. The Round Hill and Time n’ Place resorts stood in for Stella’s Jamaican digs in the film.

Along Came Polly: This 2004 romantic comedy starring an uptight Ben Stiller and free spirited Jennifer Aniston begins and ends on a beach in St. Barth.

Islands in the Sun: This CinemaScope Darryl Zanuck-directed film released in 1957 focuses on an interracial romance between characters played by Harry Belafonte and Joan Fontaine. The movie was shot on location in Barbados and Grenada, including Barbados’ historic Farley Hill mansion (which was later destroyed in a fire).

Any films you love that we didn’t mention? Email us at news@caribjournal.com.