Rosheda Stephenson calls NYC and the Caribbean home. Her travel articles are meant to inspire passion, adventure, and curiosity.
For more than half a century some of the most beautiful movie scenes have been filmed in Jamaica. Thanks to Jamaica's dreamy beauty, when Hollywood needs paradise it films on the island.
When the very first James Bond girl, Ursula Andress, suddenly appeared out of a sky-blue ocean and onto a rugged white sand beach strewn with pink seashells, she did so on a Jamaican beach.
The white waterfall crashing into a glistening river behind Tom Cruise as he kisses the life out of Elisabeth Shue in Cocktail also calls Jamaica home. If you are planning, or thinking of planning a Jamaican vacation, why not make the paradise of the movies your reality and add the breathtaking places on this list to your itinerary?
1. Laughing Waters Beach: James Bond’s Dr. No
It is fitting that a James Bond movie should start this list. British creator, Ian Fleming, wrote the first 12 James Bond novels while living on the island, and credits Jamaica's beauty as his inspiration. The first movie made from his James Bond book series was Dr. No and it was fully filmed in Jamaica. The most memorable scene, and the one that signaled to the world that the Bond girls would become a quintessential part of the James Bond franchise was filmed on a straight out of paradise beach called Laughing Waters.
Picture this: a sky blue ocean crashes upon a seashell laden white sand beach. Gurgling white water streams form shallow wading pools before they laughingly make their way over giant rocks to meet the ocean. When Ursula Andress sauntered onto this magical beach, wearing her iconic white bathing suit it was difficult to decide which was more beautiful. See the stunningly beautiful Laughing Waters Beach and decide for yourself!
Laughing Waters beach recently got privatized. The best way to see it is on a boat tour past the area or through your hotel.
2. Dunn's River Waterfalls: Also From Dr. No
Dr. No's fictional Crab Key Island is a paradise where the gorgeous beach is complimented by equally magnificent waterfalls. Sean Connery's waterfall scenes were actually filmed in Jamaica's top attraction-- Dunn's River Waterfalls. Today Dunn's River Falls are every bit as glorious as they were when Dr. No filmed more than 50 years ago. The waterfall stands at a whopping 180 feet, and is a tropical wonder of naturally hewn limestone steps over which roaring waters noisily cascade to meet the salty, turquoise ocean below. The waterfalls feature safety rails for viewing them, but, for the best experience take a hike into the actual waterfall.
Remember those limestone steps? Those same steps allow for guided hikes (hikes can be arranged at the waterfalls) up into the waterfalls. The hike actually goes into the cascades! Then it goes pass forest green fauna growing on the limestone and into naturally formed pools where one can sit while the water forcefully kneads the body for a massage orchestrated by nature. After a tour of the waterfall many visitors go down to the beach to finish the day.
If you do visit the waterfalls, remember to take a waterproof camera that will withstand this wet wonderland in paradise. Water shoes are also a good idea to prevent falling on the slippery rocks. Local vendors peddling their wares have become part of the Dunn’s River experience. A firm no (if one is so inclined) is usually enough to signal disinterest.
If your vacation plans include kids, Dunn's River Waterfalls is a once in a lifetime activity your family will be sure to enjoy. For more ideas on family activities in Jamaica, take a look at my article on the best things to do with kids in Jamaica.
Entrance to the waterfalls is USD$20. For directions and more visit their website, or book a trip through your hotel.
3. Green Grotto Caves: Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die highlights a feature of Jamaica that many do not know exists—Jamaica's underground caves. The setting for Dr. Kananga’s cavernous hideout is the Green Grotto Caves. The caves aren't beautiful in the traditional sense. Rather, their beauty is to be found in their rustic, eerie quality which exudes antiquity and a bit of danger. This probably explains why the exotic, dangerous looking caves were the setting for the climatic death of Dr. Kananga who inflates like a balloon after he is forced to ingest bullet.
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The Green Grotto caves are a curious shade of green from the algae that covers them in many places. A walk through the caves uncovers numerous interconnected caverns filled with dramatic stalactites and stalagmites which are so sharp they look like pointy daggers. As one continues, one sees a snake or two slithering out of the way. Then suddenly, about 40 feet underground, one walks into the most crystal clear water flowing through an inner grotto.
Green Grotto is no picturesque beach, but its dramatic formations is a lesson in what the rustic side of a natural paradise looks like.
To see Green Grottos, book a trip through your hotel or go by car to the easy to find location in Ocho Rios. If you decide to visit on your own, there a few things to keep in mind: the entrance has to be paid in Jamaican currency (the equivalent to USD $20), proper footwear like sneakers is required, a guide is also required before entering but can be had at the caves.
Caves in Paradise Poll!
4. Blue Lagoon
Blue lagoon is a natural lagoon fed by numerous underground freshwater springs and the Caribbean Sea. The most amazing thing about the lagoon is its shimmery iridescence that highlights an unending array of blues that seem to change minute by minute. This iridescence combined with its haunting stillness have fueled many rumors among the Jamaican people. As a little girl driving pass the Lagoon, this writer would always look away from fears that she would see the 'Blue Monster' that was rumored to live in the lagoon. I have also read that the Lagoon was once thought to be bottomless.
Scary rumors apart, the Blue Lagoon is striking in its vivid coloring. The Blue Lagoon looks like someone took the whole spectrum of blues, mixed in shimmer and then went painting in the lagoon. This unusual coloring may explain the best rumor about the Lagoon. If you have seen Brooke Shield's Blue Lagoon, then you will remember the stunning color of the movies' lagoon. The Blue Lagoon movie is widely rumored to have been filmed in Jamaica's Blue Lagoon. However, deeper digging suggests that the movie may have actually filmed on a private Fiji island. Whatever the truth, the Blue Lagoon is worth a visit, if only for its sheer beauty.
5. Frenchman’s Cove Beach: Knight and Day
If you gasped at the heavenly beach in the Knight and Day scene where Cameron Diaz asks: "how did I get into this bathing suit," as Tom Cruise emerges from an ocean framed on both sides by green peninsulas, you wouldn't be the only one. The breathtakingly beautiful Frenchman’s Cove has been eliciting gasps for decades. From the 1970s when it was a playground to the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to its popularity today, the beach is tropical paradise incarnate. Due to its classical paradise vibe, Frenchman's Cove has also been the site of many other movies filmed in Jamaica, including The Mighty Quinn, Club Paradise and Treasure Island.
Paradise is often used loosely when describing beaches. In this case it is an absolutely spot on description. A turquoise river gently meanders through a small jungle complete with Tarzan like ropes hanging from trees. The river eagerly makes its way to meet a small bluish green ocean where forested peninsulas dramatically jut into the ocean on both sides of the beach to form a view straight from heaven. Those looking for quiet laze, on the beach which is known for being secluded and quiet. Swimmers frequent the river for the experience of swimming with the tiny fishes that are perpetually present.
Frenchman's Cove beach is located in the town of Port Antonio which is a 2 to 4 hour drive from where most of Jamaica’s hotels are located (although the beach is attached to an excellent hotel). Most Jamaican hotels will arrange a trip to Frenchman’s Cove easily. If you do go to the area, be sure to visit the nearby Boston Jerk Center for the best Jerk chicken (Jamaica's famous spicy, grilled chicken) on the island. Also, try to see the Blue Lagoon, which is also in Port Antonio.
6. Reach Falls: Cocktail
While every island scene in Cocktail was filmed in Jamaica, the most beautiful place featured in the movie has to be the small waterfall cascading into the emerald green pool where Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue have their erotic rendezvous. So gorgeous is the waterfall that many people have one question after watching the movie: 'Where is the waterfall in the Cocktail movie?'
If you have wondered the same thing then a trip to Jamaica may be in you future. The romantic Reach Falls (in the Portland area of Jamaica) is a must for those who appreciate untouched nature at its best. Listen to the music of rushing water complimented by the chirps of the indigenous birds who call the surrounding forests home. Also look out for yellow billed parrots while wading in the emerald green pool. Or try to find the other minor waterfalls hiding in the nearby caves
Those seeking relaxation will find that Reach Falls is one of the few attractions in Jamaica where you are likely to find solitude away from all the tourists. This is because of its location on Jamaica's east coast (it is right on the border of St. Thomas and Portland), which is far outside the touristy resort areas and the commercial popularity of other better known waterfalls. The falls can be difficult to reach so joining a guided tour is highly recommended. Check with your hotel for reputable tour outfits.
© 2017 Rosheda Stephenson