Open On A Tropical Island... South Pacific Filming Locations That Are Just As Beautiful In Real Life

30 August 2017
Read Time: 6.0 mins

Thankfully, you don’t need a million-dollar budget to enjoy the South Pacific paradise you’ve seen on the big screen over the years. Track down these classic films if you want to soak up that idyllic, crystal-clear-water, swaying-palm-trees island vibe.

Fiji

tropical island of Fiji, South Pacific The Mamanuca Islands are the most popular group of islands in Fiji, located west of Nadi. Image: Getty

It was on an isolated beach of one of the Monuriki Islands in the Mamanuca Group that Tom Hanks wrote “HELP” in the award-winning 2000 film Cast Away. With over 330 islands in the Fijian archipelago, it’s easy to find a deserted tropical paradise of your own – without dropping off the radar. At the other end of the spectrum, Fiji also offers a number of boutique and luxury hotels which include delights such as indoor-outdoor bathrooms and your own private, sea-view infinity pool, for example. From powder-white beaches to endless coral reefs and lush hiking trails, Fiji has every type of island experience you could want.

Movie trivia

Virtually all of the sound, including dialogue, from the scenes on the island had to be replaced in post-production because the sound of the surf in the background was too loud.

Tropical island, Fiji, South Pacific The Blue Lagoon was filmed on Nanuya Levu, an island in the Yasawa group. Image: Getty

One film that best showcases the beauty of Fiji is the 1980 production The Blue Lagoon. Whether you consider this movie to be a sensitive reproduction of the 1788 French novel on which it’s based, or a rotten tomato that has not improved with time, there’s no denying that The Blue Lagoon will transport you to the South Pacific at its most dreamy.

Tavoro Waterfalls in Bouma National Heritage Park, Taveuni Island. More than beaches, the spectacular Tavoro Waterfalls in Bouma National Heritage Park, Taveuni Island. Image: Getty

Was a sequel really necessary? Maybe not, but if you’re looking for some spectacular South Pacific scenery, you’ll find it in Return to the Blue Lagoon, filmed on the third largest island in Fiji, Taveuni, and starring Milla Jovovich.

French Polynesia

Overwater bungalow, Moorea, French Polynesia Moorea… no stranger to the highly coveted overwater bungalow. Image: Getty

The breathtaking island of Moorea in French Polynesia was one of the main filming locations for the hugely successful 1984 film The Bounty, starring Mel Gibson and Sir Anthony Hopkins. The film is generally regarded as the most accurate depiction of the actual mutiny, and if you keep your eyes open you’ll be able to pick out young actors Liam Neeson and Daniel Day-Lewis in the cast. That is, if you’re not busy being completely dazzled by the turquoise waters, white sands and vistas of an unspoilt paradise.

Movie trivia

In the 1962 film version starring Marlon Brando, there were more than 2,000 actors, more than 8,000 extras and the film was made at an estimated cost of US$19 million. After the shoot, Marlon Brando bought Tetiaroa Atoll and married his co-star Tarita Teriipaia.

Teahupo’o Hawaii Teahupo’o is known for its heavy, glassy waves offshore, sometimes reaching up to 7 metres high. Image: Getty

Surfing movie fans will know The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D featuring nine-time world champion Kelly Slater and Tahitian surfer Raimana Van Bastolaer. It’s not so much about Tahiti as it is about the surf off the famous reef break at Teahupo’o. Sit back, relax, and prepare to discover that the coastline of Tahiti is even more beautiful than you could imagine.

Overwater bungalows in Bora Bora, French Polynesia If you thought Moorea knew how to do the overwater bungalow, wait until you get to Bora Bora. Image: Getty

Bora Bora is pretty much the epitome of a luxury tropical island getaway – which is probably why the 2009 film Couples Retreat starring Vince Vaughan, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman and Kristin Davis was filmed here, at the St Regis Resort.

Movie trivia

Both Kristin Davis and Malin Akerman break character in the group yoga scene, laughing hysterically and trying to hide it. Also, at the St Regis Resort, there is one TV channel which plays Couples Retreat on a perpetual loop.

Hawaii

Kauai, Hawaii The Hawaiian island of Kauai was also the location for the 1976 film version of King Kong. Image: Getty

While technically more North Pacific than South Pacific, Hawaii is commonly grouped with its South Pacific cousins, so we're going to loop it in too. The dramatic island scenery of Kauai was chosen as the perfect backdrop for the 1998 film Six Days Seven Nights starring Harrison Ford and Anne Heche. Kauai has everything the producers of a deserted-island type movie could want: a rugged coastline, an imposing mountain range, tropical jungle and of course, pristine beaches just in case romance breaks out.

View across water to Tanna Island, Vanuatu, South Pacific The old wooden jetty on Mystery Island, Vanuatu, reaches out across the South Pacific toward Tanna Island. Image: Getty

Set and filmed entirely on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, this 2015 movie tells the true story of a couple who decided to marry for love, rather than obey their parents’ wishes, just like a South Pacific version of Romeo and Juliet. Tanna won the Audience Award Pietro Barzisa at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards and also earned a special commendation at the London Film Festival.

And One For The Kids

For a feel-good, family-friendly film set in a non-specific South Pacific location, it would be hard to top the 2016 Disney hit Moana. Dwayne Johnson is the voice of the demi-god Maui, and don’t miss Jemaine Clement’s fabulous ode to David Bowie as Tamatoa the Crab. Go on, you’ll love it.


Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to the South Pacific.


Erin Bennion

Based in Brisbane, Erin is a writer with a penchant for using fancy old French words wherever possible and an insatiable hankering for trawling through vintage markets in small Scandinavian towns (no really). One of her dreams is to take her family to see General Sherman in Sequoia National Park and give that old guy a group-hug. Don’t follow her, she could end up anywhere. Twitter @erinbennion