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13 Extraordinary Movies Set In The Caribbean That Will Inspire You To Visit!

13 Extraordinary Movies Set In The Caribbean That Will Inspire You To Visit!

The Caribbean has a lot to offer both national and international filmmakers with exquisite natural and urban landscapes, a rich cultural tapestry – and various state-organized film tax credits and incentives programs. So it will come as no surprise that there are so many unforgettable movies set in the Caribbean…

In Central America stands the Caribbean Sea: a vast expanse of water known for the islands it encompasses. Some of the most beautiful sights in the world can be found on these islands. The very image of “paradisiacal” was born here.

In Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, to name a few. These are places filled with history: the seas where pirates sailed, the streets where revolutions were fought. These places have and will always call to those who are brave, for the arduous travel will be rewarded by the most incredible gem of a site to be in.

What better than movies to get to know these beautiful sights before you see them in person? Through these movies, you will be able to become familiar with the Caribbean culture and way of thinking, although it does vary from island to island. The Caribbean is a multicultural haven where every individual’s story can shine on its own.

Watching a good movie is the best way to get inspired and choose your next destination. It is the reason we have assembled various lists of the best films shot in some of our all-time favorite travel destinations: Barcelona, Dubai, South Africa, Thailand, and New York City (among others). There are things that a photo alone can’t capture. We are human, and we need movement: the waves crashing against a desolate beach, the sun setting against a majestic volcano, and people walking side by side through a vibrant village.

These are things that are better experienced with movement. These are things that belong in movies. And these things can be found in the Caribbean.

Movies set in the Caribbean - Best Caribbean films

The films in this list of movies set in the Caribbean paint a picture of a complex region filled with gorgeous sights and diverse voices. With this, we hope to help audiences step into the often-contradictory world of the Caribbean and experience the scenery, subcultures, and different dynamics that make the Caribbean what it is today.

Be forewarned that not all of these films are happy – tragedies and misery are as unavoidable in cinema as they are in life – be we promise that each one provides panoramic vistas and thought-provoking narratives from this tantalizing country…

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Movies set in the Caribbean - Best Caribbean films
Movies set in the Caribbean - Best Caribbean films
Movies set in the Caribbean - Best Caribbean films

7 Days in Havana [7 días en La Habana] (2012)

7 Days in Havana is an anthology film featuring seven segments directed by seven different Spanish-speaking filmmakers. The list of directors is packed with talent, including the likes of Juan Carlos Tabío and Gaspar Noé, whose shorts in this film are some of the best they ever made. 

As you may guess, these seven shorts are all set in Havana, the one-in-a-kind capital of Cuba. Founded in the 16th century during the Spanish colonies, this striking city has seen two of the biggest revolutions in the world. As such, there is no place quite like it in the world.

The film is filled to the brim with Cuba: it´s a love letter to the country and to the beautiful city of Havana. In this movie you’ll get a chance to see the Hotel Nacional, to hear the rhythms of the city where rumba was born. It features several cultural trademarks of the country, like the eclectic ways of life of its people, shown very clearly in the way they talk mixing several languages together.

7 Days in Havana shows seven different sides of the city that becomes something much more valuable when you put them together. It´s a portrait of Havana painted by seven masters of their craft.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was directed by Gore Verbinski and is undoubtedly one of the most famous movies set in the Caribbean. The director sought to make tell a new and refreshing pirate story, taking the name old Disney Park attraction. While the film did’t have much in common with the attraction, it was a total success.

Audiences were completely charmed by this thrilling swashbuckling film. The story follows the infamous pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who will form an unwilling allegiance with a soft-mannered blacksmith, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), in order to try to rescue Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the daughter of the governor of Port Royal, and Will’s friend and yet-to-be lover.

Both this film and the franchise it began featuring a huge set of gorgeous Caribbean sights. From the out-of-this-time city of St Vicent to the jungle island of Dominica, from Puerto Rico to Hawaii (not the Caribbean, but still an amazing filming location), Pirates of the Caribbean is an excellent film to watch for anyone planning to visit this gorgeous place. The shots featured in this franchise are marvelous, particularly those that show the luscious islands amidst the expansive sea. The film may be very good, but it’s these stunning sights that make it great.

This amazing cast of characters and their convoluted adventures are sure to leave you wanting more. Luckily, the success of the film went on to spawn several Pirates of the Caribbean sequels: the first three continue the story of the main characters; the fourth one sees Sparrow teaming up with Barbossa to take on the mighty pirate Blackbeard; and the fifth takes him to the Bermuda Triangle, where he will face against a Spanish Royal Navy ghost played by Javier Bardem.

Sugar (2008)

Set in San Pedro de Macorís, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, Sugar tells the story of a young Dominican man named Miguel Santos, who everybody calls “Sugar”.

Focused and filled with teenage drive, Miguel’s whole life has been dedicated to one thing: baseball. He trains every day while also playing as a pitcher for a local team. And for this, he is loved. In his tiny and poor neighborhood by the city, everybody knows “Sugar”. They see him as a hero, and both they and Miguel’s family count on him making it big.

Yet Miguel’s life begins to crumble just as soon as he gets what he wants. He is offered a position playing for an American team but has to deal with the bigotry of the people there. To make matters worse, a young boy with who Miguel used to play also gets picked up for the team, and he is getting better than Miguel.

Sugar is a great sports drama with an unconventional yet very rewarding twist. directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who directed the indie hit Half Nelson and the female-lead superhero movie Captain Marvel, the film does a great job of showing that what we want isn’t always what we need. It also offers a look at the city of San Pedro de Macorís, one of the most beautiful in the whole Caribbean.

Guava Island (2019)

This musical film features stunning performances by Donald Glover, also known as his rapper alter-ego Childish Gambino, and pop superstar Rihanna.

Guava Island isn’t director Hiro Murai’s first collaboration with Glover: the two of them had worked together in most episodes of the show Atlanta. In the film, Glover plays the part of Deni, a locally famous musician who dreams of throwing a big music festival on the titular island, Rihanna plays his girlfriend, a storyteller and caretaker. Guava Island follows the two of them trying to achieve their dreams while they struggle with the oppressive work conditions on the island. It’s a motivational tale that touches on many themes very relevant to today’s culture.

The titular Guava Island is a fictional place somewhere in the Caribbean. The movie was actually filmed in Cuba. Yet you wouldn’t really notice: the characterization of this fictional island is so strong that you would really recognize it. Guava Island portrays a place where African descendants feel much pride of their heritage. It’s not idyllic, but it is racially empowering.

This is a great film if you like Jamaican and African music: the film’s composer, Michael Uzowuru, managed to capture a sound that feels both authentic and fresh.

The Rum Diary (2011)

Set in Puerto Rico, The Rum Diary tells the story of an American author who gets a job at a newspaper in the city of San Juan. There he meets a whole array of colorful characters: his stuck-up boss, the newspaper photographer who he moves in with and the blond heart-stopper Chenault. As the story develops, this journalist becomes involved in an island-wide hustle using the famous Puerto Rican resorts.

The Rum Diary was directed by Bruce Robinson and is based on a novel of the same name written by the eccentric American writer and journalist Hunter S. Thompson. This isn’t Johnny Depp’s first rodeo with a Thompson work: he played the part character in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where he actually became friends with Thompson.

While dark and humorous in its tone, this 2011 movie paints a truly captivating picture of Puerto Rico. It offers both some stunning shots of the city of San Juan and its sea, but also a realistic portrayal of the underbelly of the city. The main character is actually based on the life Thompson led in the Caribbean before becoming a famous journalist in the United States, and the film accurately portrays a side of the town that we don’t often see in movies.

Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No, by Terrence Young, was one of the very first big movies to take place in the Caribbean. The first James Bond film saw the renowned British spy traveling to Jamaica. Following the death of an MI6 agent on the island, Bond is sent to investigate. There he will meet a mysterious man who will become his enemy: Dr. Julius No. The film stars Sean Connery in the role that would make lead to him being regarded as one of the best leading men in Hollywood.

It’s widely known that Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels, was in love with the country. In fact, he wrote the book that this movie adapts while in his Jamaican state. A large part of the movie takes place in Kingston, the capital city of the island, particularly at the beginning. Bond arrives in the city only to find the enemy waiting for him: Dr. No’s lackeys are already hunting him.

As he dives deeper into danger, the famous spy will find himself in the more exotic parts of the island. The island where 007 finds the villain’s lair was filmed in Ocho Rios, a beautiful port town surrounded by clear water, pale sand and lush mango trees.

Live and Let Die (1973)

Guy Hamilton’s Live and Let Die marks the return of James Bond to the Caribbean. Although this time it’s not Sean Connery who embodies the character: Connery rejected the project, so the studio went on to find a new Bond.

They chose Roger Moore, who is now regarded as one of the best actors to play the part. The film sees 007 becoming involved with a drug trafficking plot by a Caribbean dictator who poses as a drug lord in Harlem.

The film is set on the fictional Caribbean island of San Monique. While the name may be fictional, the stunning sights are not: the production took place all over Jamaica, filming in the most exotic locations in order to best portray San Monique. Most of Live and Let Die was filmed in Montego Bay, a city in the north of Jamaica.

The city is known for being a major cruise ship port, with millions of people visiting its dreamlike beaches every year. Perhaps the most interesting location featured in Live and Let Die are the Green Grotto Caves. This cave system by the sea is easily recognizable due to its bright green color.

Casino Royale (2006)

This last James Bond film sees the masterful spy returning once more to the Caribbean, this time to the beautiful island of The Bahamas. Adapting the 1953 novel of the same name, Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale brings the latest Bond to the fold.

In his debut as 007, Daniel Craig gives an incredible performance that established his path as this generation’s Bond. He stars alongside the gorgeous Eva Green, playing Vesper Lynd, and renowned Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who brings the wicked Le Chiffre to life.

Casino Royale’s whole story revolves around a high-stakes poker game set in the titular casino, where Bond will try to win against Le Chiffre, frustrating his funding of terrorists around the world. While following the lead of Le Chiffre’s dealings, Bond finds himself in the gorgeous city of Nassau. The spy explores the Paradise Island, known for its paradisiacal beaches and the enormous resort painted in pink: the Atlantis. The film even shows the famous Bahamian resort, The One And Only Club (which is now known as The Ocean Club).

It is in this gorgeous piece of history that 007 faces a poker match against Le Chiffre and other colorful characters – and one of the most famous James Bond filming locations of all time.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

This 1998 romantic comedy is one of the best movies set in the Caribbean and went on to become one of the most-watched movies with a black female lead, and it´s no surprise.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a fun and heartwarming story about a young middle-aged black woman who is both raising her son alone and working as a successful stockbroker. Played by the great Angela Bassett, Stella is in dire need of a break: with help of her college friend Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg), she will travel to Jamaica in order to get her groove back. There she will meet a man who she will slowly fall in love with; the thing is, he is twenty years younger than her

How Stella Got Her Groove Back really shows how packing your bags and going on vacation can be just the thing you need. In the gorgeous resorts found in Montego Bay, Stella finds both love and inner peace: two things she wouldn’t even think about back in California. These paradisiacal resorts become the stage where a charming love story plays out.

If you’re looking for a cheerful romance that will make your day better, this is the movie for you. 

Sand Dollars [Dólares de arena] (2014)

Sand Dollars is a sad drama set in the Dominican Republic. It tells the story of Noeli, who is working as an escort, and Anne, an older French woman who has been her client for a while. The two of them have a troublesome relationship that is bound to go wrong: Anne is in love with Noemi and wants to take her back to Paris, but Noemi just wants Anne to get her a visa so she can leave the Dominican Republic.

When Anne discovers that Noemi has a boyfriend, everything goes awry. This heart-wrenching story was directed by Laura Asmelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, a Dominican directing duo who also happen to be husband and wife.

It received plenty of critical acclaim, which isn´t usual for movies made in the country. Sand Dollars was screened in the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews. It also was the Dominican entry for that year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, although it wasn’t nominated. Undeservedly so.

Sand Dollars received a sequel three years later, that tells the continuing story of Noemi and Anne after the dour ending of the first movie.

The Tamarind Seed (1974)

While The Tamarind Seed may be a little too old for some, its thrilling story, filled with drama and romance, will certainly captivate most audiences and makes it deserve of being on any list of the best movies set in the Caribbean.

Set during the height of the Cold War, the film tells the story of a British woman who falls for a handsome Soviet attaché during a vacation in the Caribbean. As they get closer and closer, British Intelligence takes notice, suspecting that she may be a spy. It features stunning performances by Omar Sharif, one of Egypt’s most famous movie stars, and a young Julie Andrews, who would go on to become a thoroughly lauded actress.

The Tamarind Seed was based on a 1971 novel by the same name written by Evelyn Anthony. Like the book, the movie is set on the island of Barbados. The gorgeous vistas of the island’s beaches become a perfect backdrop for the developing romance between Judith and Colonel Sverdlov. It’s important to note that, while Barbados is now an independent country, it was a British colony up to 1966. The film takes place in a post-colony Barbados, where the British presence it’s still felt.

This is a great film for anyone interested in this time period where the forces of the West and the East were in constant tension.

Countryman (1982)

This 1982 film by Dickie Jobson manages to capture the uniqueness of Jamaica. It tells the story of a solitary fisherman on the island who sees himself in the company of two plane crash survivors from America.

Even though he doesn’t know them, this fisherman, who will go on to be called Countryman, will harbor them and teach them about the jungle. When he’s caught in a political plot by a Colonel, Countryman will fight for his own right and protect his new friends.

Countryman is a love letter to Jamaica and its people. While the film is dedicated to Bob Marley, whose songs are featured several times during the runtime of the film, it’s also made for Jamaicans. It dives deep into the culture of the island, offering a poignant portrayal of Rastafari beliefs and practices: Countryman is a clear example of the way of life Rastafari lead. In fact, Edwin Lothan, aka Countryman, was a real Rasta practitioner and activist. The movie is an adaptation of a story that American author Michael Thomas wrote about Lothan.

The influence that this movie has had on young Jamaicans cannot be understated: Countryman has become a legend among Rastafarians. And it´s no surprise, his poetic way of speaking and wise philosophy are truly inspiring.

Marley (2012)

There are few figures musical figures as influential as Bob Marley. It’s indisputable that Marley is the number one ambassador for reggae music: he is to thank for reggae growing out of Jamaica and expanding around the world.

While he wrote his most reggae popular songs during the seventies, his music, which was so ahead of its time, still manages to captivate audiences today. Yet reggae isn’t only a music style: this genre is deeply linked to the Rastafari religion and political movement. This movement was born in Jamaica and its members fight for pan-Africanism, the strengthening of the relationships between people of African descent (like Jamaicans). Reggae music is the tool through which Rastafarian messages are spread around the world. And Bob Marley was at the forefront of this.

The documentary Marley, by Kevin Macdonald, does a great job at capturing what Bob’s life was about. Through interviews with those who were close to him, together with archival footage of his world tours and his days spent in Jamaica, this film paints a clear picture of Marley’s fears, motivations and wishes for the future. It shows the bigotry he suffered due to being of mixed race.

It also portrays his first days as a Rastafarian, as well as his journey to become a leader in this movement. And beyond all that, Marley is a great way to get to know the beautiful and transcendental songs that Bob Marley is known for.