10 incredible movie beaches to visit this year (that aren’t ‘The Beach’)
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You’ve watched the movie with a bucket of popcorn. Now visit the location with a bucket and spade….
Fancy combining a beach break with some pop culture sightseeing? You’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 of the best movie beaches worth visiting in 2022. Mixing the far-flung and tropical with the short-haul and affordable, Hollywood’s closer to home than you think.
Don’t expect the beach made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Beach” (Maya Bay in Phuket) to feature though. Closed to the public by Thai authorities from 2018 until this January after over-tourism was destroying its coral reef, officials heavily restrict the number of beachgoers who can visit. For this reason and because, let’s face it, every movie beach list in the world has already talked a lot about it – we’re keeping this beach list a “The Beach”-zero zone.
But stay with us, for there are plenty of other slices of cinematic paradise on this great planet that aren’t so well-trodden, or Instagrammed. Just remember to always be considerate and reduce your footprint wherever possible — let’s keep these beaches beautiful.
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1. Paradise Island, Bahamas (Casino Royale)
Assassin. Poker player. Spy. Budgie smuggler? When 007 debutant Daniel Craig first emerged from the water in those eye-poppingly tight swim shorts for 2006’s “Casino Royale,” the actor served up an iconic beach moment in a franchise that’s had a few. The movie was filmed around the glorious shorelines of The Bahamas — specifically at The Ocean Club on Paradise Island, and around the super VIP enclave Albany House (a 45-minute drive south on New Providence). Now a Four Seasons Resort, it’s well worth a stay at The Ocean Club, which is where we saw Craig’s Bond skulking around for much of the film’s early scenes. If you’re there and looking to go full 007, head into Nassau and you can scuba tour the spots where Sean Connery once enjoyed an underwater punch-up in “Thunderball.”
2. Lord Howe Island, Australia (The Shallows)
If you’ve watched “The Shallows”, you’ll know what a powerhouse performance Blake Lively delivers as a surfer caught up in a terrifying battle with a great white shark. Amid the blood-curdling screams and terrifying violence, you may have wondered where they filmed it. Here’s your answer: Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, a stunning volcanic island east of Sydney, Australia. You’ll find the filming locations down by Ned’s Beach Road. Teeming with rugged peaks and turquoise lagoons, you can even fly there in under two hours from Sydney with Qantas. FYI, it’s also one of the only places Down Under where you can find the Galapagos shark, which you’ll be glad to know have less of an appetite than great whites.
3. Bagno Antonio & Beyond, Ischia, Italy (The Talented Mr Ripley)
Come for the movie locations, stay for the sunsets — every inch the Hollywood icon, Italy’s Almafi Coast backdropped 1999’s “The Talented Mr Ripley” to such an extent that you could spend days retracing the steps of Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law’s characters. The lavish adaptation of Patricia Highway’s classic novel saw a number of coastal towns standing in for the fictional Mongibello, but it’s the island of Ischia, reachable by ferry from Naples, where you’ll find some of the best spots. A must-see is the imposing Castello Aragonese. It pops up plenty on screen. Sandwiched by the much larger San Pietro and Pescatori beaches (both stunning), Bagno Antonio, is a nice sandy spot to indulge in a classic novel yourself. You’ll have to pay a small fee to enter but it boasts a beachside restaurant of the same name serving up great food and drinks. It’s the same beach where Damon’s Ripley first gets friendly with Law’s Dickie and Paltrow’s Marge. Always got to stick his oar in, hasn’t he?
4. Vault Beach, Cornwall, UK (About Time)
As you might expect of a Richard Curtis film, 2013’s time travel drama “About Time” is remarkably Middle England. Its lead character, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), travels through time to overcome shyness and win over the woman he loves. The English vistas are all stunning, not least for one of the most poignant final scenes where Tim and his dad (Bill Nighy, obviously) run down a sandy bank towards the Cornish shoreline for the last time. That would be Vault Beach at Dodman Point, South Cornwall, a 20-minute drive from St Austell. Be warned, however, the car park isn’t very close to the sand so expect a bit of walk to get there. But if you’re willing to make the effort you will be rewarded with views to die for. And if you’re feeling risque…the far side of the shoreline is an unofficial nudist beach.
5. Monsul Beach, Almeria, Spain (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
With travel restrictions easing across the continent, why not acquaint yourself with a classic movie location via a short-haul trip? Almeria, Southern Spain is home to the beach where Indiana Jones and his dad ingeniously brought down a Nazi fighter plane in “The Last Crusade”. You’ll know it instantly from the big rock Sean Connery runs towards while flapping his brolly at a flock of pigeons. Parking is available 200m away. Located deep into the Cabo de Gata National Park, Monsul Beach is still a hidden gem with enough rolling dunes and natural volcanic trails to give you a good hike. EasyJet flies direct to Almeria from Stanstead, Gatwick and East Midlands.
6. Tybee Island, Georgia, USA (Baywatch)
If ever there were two people you wouldn’t want to stand next to at a beach, it’d probably be Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Zac Efron, whose collective muscle mass could probably win a WWE Championship just for turning up. Alongside the pair’s washboard abs, they brought the iconic “Baywatch” TV series to the big screen in R-rated fashion in 2017. The plot was set in Florida, but the beach scenes were actually shot at Tybee Island, Georgia, which has miles of golden sand without the massive crowds that clutter the likes of Miami. There’s a cute lighthouse that you can hike to with plenty of nice places to grab a bite to eat along the way. It’s also less than 20 miles from the picturesque city of Savannah, which is a great place to base yourself and where it’s also possible to visit the spot (Chippewa Town Square) – aka where Forest Gump once sat at a bus stop offering chocolates to strangers chocolate.
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, USA (Some Like It Hot)
Why is San Diego one of the most underrated holiday destinations in North America, you ask? If it’s not the perfect microclimate, gastro tacos and high-octane activities, it’s the exceptional beaches that put other destinations to shame. Drive over the 200-foot-tall Coronado Bridge and you’ll find one of the best of them, Coronado Beach, where the sand sparkles thanks to mineral mica. Once there, you can check out the beachfront Hotel Del Coronado, immortalised in 1959’s “Some Like It Hot.” Still looking a million dollars (plus inflation) today, and sure to evoke flashbacks of Marilyn Monroe running around with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon, the hotel has lost none of its elegance, with The Crown Room Brunch one of the most extravagant buffets you’ll ever encounter.
8. Joseph Sylvia State Beach, Massachusetts, USA (Jaws)
It had to be, didn’t it? The beach from Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic “Jaws” was filmed around Joseph Sylvia State Beach on Martha’s Vineyard, standing in for the fictional Amity Island. Just six miles from the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, it’s easily reached by ferry. You’ll find the public beach, known locally as State Beach, in good nick, too. Parking is limited so you might want to go out of season when things are quieter and accommodation is more affordable. Otherwise, you’re going to need a bigger budget.
9. West Sands, St Andrews, Scotland (Chariots of Fire)
‘Chhhh, chhhh, chhhh’. We can see you now, slow-moving your arms at the mere thought of “Chariots of Fire.” The 1982 Best Picture winner blessed us with those iconic sand-running scenes and was shot at a beautiful little beach called West Sands in St Andrews. Stretching for two miles on the coastline of Fife, the beach backs onto the world-famous St Andrews Golf Course where you can find a hotel, restaurant and, should you need to relax after your own beach sprint, the Kohler Waters Spa, too. The historic town centre is just a 20-minute walk with plenty of things to do if the weather doesn’t play ball.
10. St. Vincent’s Wallilabou Bay/Sandy Cay, Exuma Islands, The Bahamas (Pirates of the Caribbean series)
If you really want to live like Captain Jack Sparrow, there’s only one place to head: The Caribbean. Set sail for St. Vincent’s Wallilabou Bay and you can see the port where fans first saw Johnny Depp’s scallywag hopping on to a pier as an entire ship sank behind him. Some of the original sets for “Curse of the Black Pearl” are still standing and, fittingly, the volcanic island has black sand beaches. Although if you’re dreaming of the vibrant blue waters and dazzlingly white sand seen in other parts of the series, such as “Dead Man’s Chest,” head to the Exuma Islands, chartering a boat or joining a hotel excursion from Long Island towards Sandy Cay. Known locally as ‘Castaway Island’, you can even explore its coral and stunning animal life with an iguana tour from Cape Santa Maria.
Featured image of Tybee Island, Georgia, by AppalachianViews/Getty Images
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