If when you think of the Virgin Islands, you picture beautiful islands and beaches, you certainly would not be wrong. Within its 737 square miles, you’ll find about islands and about 40 beaches.
The main islands are St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas, which is home to its capital city, Charlotte Amalie.
Virgin Islands National Park is located on St. John. The entire park is over 7000 acres, with 40% of it located underwater, including the 225-yard long underwater trail, a favorite of snorkelers in Trunk Bay.
Although the US only took over ownership in 1917, the area’s history as a shopping mecca dates all the way back to 1607. It began with the Jamestown Settlers, the first group to settle in the United States.
The weather on the islands is usually very comfortable and rarely dips below 60 degrees. Which makes it a prime spot for beach vacationers and contributes to tourism being its biggest industry.
And while it’s certainly not a prime spot for moviemakers, it has been the home to a few here and there, if you look hard enough. See below for a list of some of the most interesting.
Movies Shot in the United States Virgin Islands
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
Director Ridley Scott’s eighth movie, this historical drama starred Sigourney Weaver, Armand Assante, and Gérard Depardieu as Christopher Columbus. It was about the Italian’s explorations in the New World and how that affected its inhabitants. Some filming was done in St. Thomas.
The Big Blue (1988)
Known in some countries as Le Grand Bleu, this was the 4th movie from director Luc Besson. It was a fictionalized story of the lives and deaths of two rival free divers, Enzo Molinari and Jacques Mayol, played by Jean Reno and Jean-Marc Barr, respectively. The film also starred Rosanna Arquette. Some filming was done in St. Croix.
Caged in Paradiso (1990)
This action movie starred Irene Cara (singer of the theme songs to both Flashdance and Fame), Paula Bond, and Peter Kowanko. Cara’s Eva is a prisoner on an island well protected by both the water and a laser, attempting to make an escape with her husband. In this case, “Paradiso” was deemed to be St. Thomas where the movie was shot.
Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992)
This adventure film also dealt with Christopher Columbus’s explorations and begins before his trip in 1492. It was actually released around the same time as the previously discussed movie, causing much confusion. It starred Tom Selleck, Rachel Ward, Marlon Brando, and Georges Corraface. Some filming was done in St. Thomas.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
This fantasy romance was director David Fincher’s 7th movie and based upon F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 short story. Brad Pitt was in the starring role as a man who ages backward. Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, and Mahershala Ali co-starred. It won three Oscars. Some filming was done in St. Thomas.
The Four Seasons (1981)
This romcom was written, directed by, and starred Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame. Costars included Carol Burnett, Len Cariou, Sandy Dennis, and Rita Moreno. A group of friends who travel together four times a year get their dynamic thrown off balance when one of the couples gets divorced. Some filming was done in the Virgin Islands.
The Frogmen (1950)
This drama was set in World War II and starred Dana Andrews, Richard Widmark, and Gary Merrill. It dealt with the “frogmen”, underwater demolition teams operating against the Japanese. In this story, a new lieutenant commander must take over a team that isn’t so welcoming. Some filming was done in St. Thomas.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)
Based upon H.G. Wells’ 1896 book, this sci-fi film starred Burt Lancaster, Nigel Davenport, and Michel York. As Andrew awaits rescue off an island after his ship sinks, he finds himself curious about some of the creatures inhabiting the island, including a beautiful woman. Some filming was done in St. Croix.
Open Water (2003)
This horror movie was about a couple on a scuba diving trip that gets trapped in shark-infested waters after their boat leaves them behind. It is based in part on the of the story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan who were left in the Great Barrier Reef in 1988. Some filming was done in both St. John and St. Thomas.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn (2011)
Part I of the final installment of the Twilight Saga, this one brought back Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) and their human, vampire, and werewolf friends; this time for the wedding of the couple, and of course, its subsequent results. Some filming was done in St. Thomas.
Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)
Sequel to the wildly popular 1989 movie about two young men carrying around a dead body trying to convince others that he is still alive, this movie brought back Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman, as well as Terry Kiser as Bernie himself. Part of the film was set in St. Thomas, with some filming done in St. John.
Trading Places (1983)
This comedy film starred Dan Aykroyd as an arrogant broker whose life is turned upside down after his associates take away his money and stature, giving it all to a street hustler, played by Eddie Murphy. Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Ameche, and Ralph Bellamy co-starred. Some filming was done in St. Croix.
Salt on Our Skin (1992)
This romance was director Andrew Birkin’s 11th movie. It was based on a 1988 novel by Benoîte Groult. It starred Vincent D’Onofrio and Greta Scacchi as two very different people whose only similarity seems to be their passion for one another over a span of three decades. Some filming was done in St. Thomas.
A Woman Named Jackie (1991)
This TV miniseries was based on C. David Heyman’s 1989 book about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her life before she married 35th president John F. Kennedy to her marriage to Aristotle Onassis. Roma Downey was in the title role, with Stephen Collins and Joss Ackland costarring. Some filming was done in St. Thomas.
Violent City (1970)
This Poliziotteschi film, sometimes known as The Family, was about a hitman getting revenge on the betrayal of his former associate in New Orleans. It starred Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, and Jill Ireland. Parts of the movie were set in the Virgin Islands, with some filming done in St. Thomas.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
An adaptation of one of horror writer Stephen King’s non-horror novellas, this drama told the story of Andy Dufresne and his stint at Shawshank State in Ohio after being found guilty of murder. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman were the main stars. The final scene of the movie was done in Frederiksted in St. Croix.
While the USVI is a US territory, there are quite a few things that set it apart from the rest of the country. Starting with the fact that it is the only place in the US where you drive on the left side of the road. It also borders both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, another feature that no other place in the country has.
And with a never-ending supply of sunshine, beaches, and water, it’s also yet another US area that Hollywood filmmakers occasionally use as a backdrop for their movies.