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Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

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Metro Goldwyn Mayer Image by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Author: Elle Canada

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Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

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Ursula Andress and Sean Connery on location at Laughing Waters Beach, Jamaica, in 1962's Dr. No.

As far as I’m concerned, Laughing Waters Beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, should be called “Screaming Waters Beach,” because that’s exactly what I’m doing here. I’m screaming while a creature shaped alarmingly like a small shark bumps its rubbery head against my legs beneath the water.

I came to Jamaica to check out the filming locales of several Hollywood movies, including three James Bond films, and this situation is unfolding like a damsel-in-distress story straight out of a Bond flick. Without 007 to save me, I quickly make my way out of the ocean. In my panicked state, I look nothing like Honey Ryder, the bombshell Bond Girl who stepped gracefully onto this beach in the 1962 film Dr. No, or Halle Berry’s Jinx as she sexily came out of the water in 2002’s Die Another Day. Once I’m clear of the water, an amused lifeguard informs me the little “shark” I encountered was actually a harmless remora fish. It’s a far cry from a run-in with a young Sean Connery, but I’m just happy I made it to shore with my life.

READ MORE: 5 more must-see movie and music locations in Jamaica

A day earlier I was at Frenchman’s Cove, a half-moon shaped beach framed by rugged cliffs located in the quiet parish of Portland. While I bobbed in the turquoise waves, lunch was served. I emerged from the water (yet again displaying a fraction of the Bond Girl allure) to eat lobster under the shade of an almond tree while Bob Marley’s “Is this Love?” played in the distance. As I dug into my buttery lobster, I thought of the lost boys of Lord of the Flies, who touched down on this very beach in the 1957 film adaptation. I was definitely having a better time than they did!

Almost every beach, cave and waterfall in Jamaica has a cinematic connection, from the recent blockbuster Knight and Day to the 1980 cult classic Blue Lagoon. Ian Fleming penned all of the James Bond books at GoldenEye, his oceanfront home in Oracabessa Bay. Three James Bond films (Dr. No, Live and Let Die and Thunderball) were shot all over Jamaica and many more were in some way inspired by Fleming’s love of the island. I even thought of a trick to help my mind recreate the action. If I had trouble envisioning Bond lurking behind a palm tree or chasing down a villain (while jumping across the backs of alligators), I would listen to the films’ classic opening credit theme (you know the one) I had saved on my phone. It did the trick every time.

Here’s a look at some of the most cinematic James Bond-inspired spots in Jamaica:

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Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

Where it all began: GoldenEye

The details: James Bond creator Ian Fleming fell in love with Jamaica when he was stationed on the island during WWII. After the war, he came back and built a home he called “GoldenEye” on a cliff overlooking a private beach on Jamaica’s northeast coast. He wrote the James Bond series from his oceanfront home over the course of 14 years. When Fleming wasn’t writing, he was entertaining famous guests like Errol Flynn and Noel Coward. Today, GoldenEye is a luxe, secluded retreat consisting of villas and cottages surrounded by lagoons and lush gardens. The estate continues to host celebrities – like Kate Moss, Johnny Depp and Naomi Campbell – just like it did in Fleming’s day.   READ MORE: Staying at Ian Fleming's GoldenEye in Jamaica

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Liz Guber Source: Courtesy of Goldeneye

Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

The movie: Thunderball, 1965

The location:The coral reefs at Goldeneye   The details: Ian Fleming loved to snorkel and dive off the shore of his property, so it’s no surprise that the intense underwater fight scene in Thunderball between James Bond and a group of evil henchmen was inspired by the coral reefs by Fleming’s home.   Why I loved it: Because some of the island’s most colourful marine life awaited me. I was too scared to go underwater (blame all those action scenes!) so I opted for a glass-bottomed boat ride instead.   READ MORE: 5 other must-see movie and music locations in Jamaica

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Liz Guber Source: Instagram.com/visitjamaica

Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

The movie: From Russia With Love, 1963

The location: The Rio Grande   The details: Although From Russia With Love wasn’t filmed in Jamaica, Fleming loved rafting on the Rio Grande so much he named the film’s villain after his favourite rafting captain, Red Grant.   Why I loved it: Because Ian Fleming described rafting on one of Jamaica’s biggest rivers as a “delicately romantic adventure,” and I couldn’t agree more.   READ MORE: Set-jetting in Iceland, the other Hollywood North

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Liz Guber Source: Instagram.com/geejamcollection

Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

The movie: Live and Let Die, 1973

The location: Cabarita Island   The details: This small, uninhabited dot just off the coast of Jamaica’s Port Maria was transformed into the Isle of Surprise (a hideout for the criminal Mr. Big) in Live and Let Die.   Why I loved it: Because I spotted this little island while strolling the grounds of Firefly, once Noel Coward’s mountaintop property and now a historic site and event space. This perfectly preserved hideaway boasts some of the best views on the island and has hosted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.   READ MORE: Set-jetting in North Carolina

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Liz Guber Source: Instagram.com/visitjamaica

Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

The movie: Dr. No, 1962

The location: Dunn’s River Falls   The details: James Bond and Honey Ryder take a break from the peril and go for a swim at the base of this terraced waterfall.   Why I loved it: Because I got up early and had the falls all to myself as I climbed the giant stone steps to the very top where the water rushed past my ankles.   READ MORE: Visiting Marlon Brando's private island

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Liz Guber Source: Instagram.com/visitjamaica

Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

The movie: Dr. No, 1962

The location: Laughing Waters Beach   The details: This white-sand beach is the setting for one of the most infamous Bond moments: Honey Ryder’s rise from the surf wearing a white bikini and humming “Under the Mango Tree.”   Why I loved it: Because it’s just a few sandy steps away from Dunn’s River Falls and the perfect place to sip rum punch and wind down after climbing the falls.   READ MORE: Inspiring Instagram accounts that will make you want to travel

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Liz Guber Source: Instagram.com/visitjamaica

Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations

The movie: Dr. No, 1962

The location: The Green Grotto Caves   The details: The Green Grotto Caves doubled as Dr. Kananga’s evil lair. It’s spooky, dark and inhabited by bats – the perfect setting for a villain’s den.   Why I loved it: Because the Green Grotto Caves are now villain-free (although the bats have remained) and beautifully lit up to showcase the dramatic shapes created by the jagged limestone.   READ MORE: 5 more must-see set-jetting locations in Jamaica

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Liz Guber Source: Courtesy of the Green Grotto Caves


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Set-jetting in Jamaica: James Bond movie locations