If your last beach excursion is a distant memory, or you simply long to see the sea, a well-thought-out movie night might be enough to stave off the landlocked blues. Put your feet up and discover an exotic cove or wild seashore on a vicarious trip to any of these cinematic beaches, with the bonus of a storyline.
When the time is right, plan a visit to discover the real charm of these 10 coastal movie locations, plus the extra sites that didn’t make the cut.
Did you spot Stiniva beach in Mamma Mia 2? © Matthew Baker / Getty Images
Barjoska Beach, Vis, Croatia – Mamma Mia 2 (2018)
Masquerading as a Greek Island, Vis – with its rugged coastline and pristine waters – deserves an award for its authentic performance in the latest instalment of the all-dancing, all-croaking Mamma Mia. In the past, it was a military base and no-go zone for tourists, which kept this sun-drenched island shrouded in obscurity for decades. Mamma Mia has changed all of that.
The island is a two-hour ferry ride from Split. Barjoska Beach, a remote westerly cove that features throughout the movie, is accessible by road or water taxi – but it’s well worth a diversion from the main port. Stiniva to the south of the island makes a cameo appearance, and with its white pebble surface and dramatic cliff-edge setting, it steals the show.
Not quite the Caribbean, but just as blissful (unless you're a pirate) © Yoshio Tomii / Getty Images
Whitehaven Beach, Australia – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is in another perilous situation when dead pirates emerge from clear blue water to confront his team of sailors on a sandy, palm-tree-fringed tropical island. It has the very essence of a Caribbean hideaway, but its real location is in another hemisphere across the international date line.
Whitehaven Beach is in the heart of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with miles of white quartz sand, translucent water and flourishing tropical plant life, which guarantees its ranking as one of the most beautiful shores on Earth. Take a short bush walk to Hill Inlet where the view of the 7km stretch of sand provides the ultimate Instagram moment.
Wonder at the vistas at Villa Cimbrone © MIXA Co. Ltd / Getty Images
Marina di Camerota, Italy – Wonder Woman (2017)
While the location of Themyscira, the fictional island home of Wonder Woman, is a geographical conundrum, the site where the 2017 blockbuster was filmed is a little easier to establish. Italy’s off-the-radar Cilento Coast, south of Amalfi, is the place to discover the fine sandy beaches featured on mythical Themyscira, albeit somewhat altered to include a cliff edge, courtesy of CGI.
Visitors with deep wallets head north to the pretty village of Ravello to stay at Villa Cimbrone and enjoy the 1000ft-high views over the Amalfi Coast from its terrace, which also features in the movie.
Fancy yourself a Daniel Craig lookalike? Smoulder like Bond in Turkey © KenanOlgun / Getty Images
Koca Çalış, Fethiye, Turkey – Skyfall (2012)
Resilient secret agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) becomes a lotus eater on Çalış Beach for a brief spell after a sniper’s bullet sends him plummeting into a river from a 300ft-high ravine. He spends his days on the beach knocking back cocktails while balancing a scorpion on his hand before returning for duty.
Secluded Koca Çalış is 5km of sandy beach fringed by the warm water of the Aegean Sea, with a low-key selection of cafés and restaurants. Head towards nearby Fethiye to discover the Lycian Rock Tombs carved into a mountainside, with staggering views back to the coast.
The rough waves at Reynisfjara beach are best admired from afar © Elena Pueyo / Getty Images
Reynisfjara, Iceland and Laamu Atoll, Maldives – Rogue One (2016)
Rogue One starts on one beach and ends on another; they’re light years apart in the movie, but a (relatively speaking) mere 10,000km from each other here on Earth.
The stark location of Planet Lah Mu, where Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is separated from her parents, is Iceland’s black sand Reynisfjara, guarded by enormous sea stacks and pounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Gan Island in the Maldives’ lush and vibrant Laamu Atoll doubles as Planet Scarif. With its turquoise water and white sandy beaches, it’s a dramatic contrast to moody Reynisfjara.
This coastline was enhanced with CGI for its Inception appearance © trekandshoot / Getty Images
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, California, USA – Inception (2010)
Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie roles often wash up on a beach or involve the ocean, and Inception, Christopher Nolan’s epic tale of mind control and dream manipulation, is no exception. Dominik Cobb (DiCaprio) is seen lying face down on Abalone seashore at the beginning of this science fiction masterpiece.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a hiker’s paradise, with trails that lead to jagged bluffs with commanding views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Visitors should note that part of the park is currently closed off due to cliff erosion.
No need to time travel – just plan a future trip to Vault Beach © Ian_Sherriffs / Getty Images
Vault Beach, Cornwall, England – About Time (2013)
Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) time travels to improve his love life and help out his friends. It’s a gift he shares with his father (played by Bill Nighy), and he returns home regularly to share stories of his time-warp escapades as they stroll on Vault Beach.
Sheltered by high headlands to the east, this curved sand and shingle beach slopes gradually into the sea. It’s generally a safe swimming area, and visitors should be aware that summertime bathers tend to wear considerably less clothing than Tim Lake or his father at the far end of the beach.
Hawaii is no stranger to the big screen – and it's no wonder with its abundance of natural beauty © M Swiet Productions / Getty Images
Hanalei Bay, Hawaii, USA – Descendants (2011)
Hanalei Bay serves as the backdrop to the climactic showdown between Matt King (George Clooney) and his wife’s lover in Kaui Hart Hemmings’ modern family story. It’s not the first time this crescent-shaped beach has appeared on the silver screen; when it appeared in South Pacific (1958), it put Kauai Island on the map as a tourism destination.
Lush green slopes with cascading waterfalls tumble down to the shore, providing unsurpassable cinematic scenery. Hanalei also escapes the crowds that gather in some of the other resorts like Waikiki in the island of Oahu. Linger in hip Hanalei Town to discover its emerging food scene and sample local specials such as Hawaiian-style chicken katsu and fish tacos.
The dunes and a sandy stretch of Dunkirk's famous beach, Plage de Malo-les-Bains © Roy JAMES Shakespeare / Getty Images
Dunkirk, France – Dunkirk (2017)
Unsurprisingly, a large portion of this movie takes place on Dunkirk’s vast sandy plains and dunes, the place where thousands of Allied troops awaited rescue while the sky hailed Luftwaffe fire during WWII.
Christopher Nolan’s cinematic rendition of the horror of war and the civilian bravery during the rescue is at odds with the peaceful stretch of sand that stretches north towards Belgium, so head to the Dunkirk Museum 1940 to get a deeper understanding of the events that unfolded as the battle raged on the beach.
Seafood by the sea? Nothing beats it © Laurie Noble / Getty Images
Chesil Beach, England – On Chesil Beach (2018)
The beach – the longest in Great Britain – is separated from the mainland by a lagoon and its rugged beauty was chiselled by the wind and ocean that pounds the Dorset coast. Seafood doesn’t come any fresher than the hearty fare served at the Crab House Café, which faces the lagoon. To further your pursuit of fiction, overnight at the Moonfleet Manor Hotel, the inspiration for J Meade Falkner’s novel Moonfleet.
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