The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States of America. But similar to places outside the United States, and even many states within the United States, it has its own unique culture, characteristics, and way of life. Starting with its spoken language, which is primarily Spanish.
Within its mere 5,515 square miles, there are four mountain ranges, 25,516 acres of forest, and last but definitely not least, 300 beaches along 270 miles of coastline, including the world-famous Flamenco Beach. And El Yunque National Forest contains the only tropical rainforest within the United States run by US National Forest Service.
It houses the largest shopping center in the Caribbean Sea at Plaza Las Américas and the largest rum factory in the world at Bacardi’s Cathedral of Rum. This might help to understand why the piña colada cocktail was invented here.
The weather is almost always ideal (minus the hurricanes it experiences, of course), staying between 70 and 80 degrees for the entire year.
And occasionally over the years, it has been either the main filming location or one of a dozen other locations for major films. Whether it was a stand-in for someplace else or it was actually used as part of the setting, you’ve more than likely seen Puerto Rico on the big screen. Here are a few of the most interesting:
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Movies Filmed in Puerto Rico
Captain Ron (1992)
This comedy film starred Kurt Russell and Martin Short. Martin Harvey and his family need to navigate their newly acquired yacht through the Caribbean. Except this inherited yacht is in extreme disrepair and will be captained by the eccentric, inexperienced, and possibly criminal Captain Ron Rico. Some filming was done in San Juan, Fajardo, and Arroyo.
Runtime: 100 minutes
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
This Marvel movie starred Chris Evans as Captain America and had an ensemble cast, which included Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., and Sebastian Stan, among many others. In this one, the backlash of the Sokovia explosion and the upcoming Sokovia Accords is debated amongst the group, causing a rift in relations. For filming, Puerto Rico stood in for Lagos, Nigeria.
Runtime: 147 minutes
The seventeenth in the James Bond movie series, this one starred Pierce Brosnan in the title role. Other stars included Sean Bean and Judi Dench. In this tale, 007 must go up against a former ally to prevent the launch of a space weapon that could destroy all life. Some filming was done in Puerto Rico as well as many other spots in Europe.
Runtime: 130 minutes
Bad Boys II (2003)
The second installment in this buddy-cop series starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence had the duo going after ecstasy drug dealers in Miami. They soon come to find that the Cuban smugglers are also connected to Haitian and Russian mobs. To make matters even more complicated, Mike is now dating Marcus’s sister. Some filming was done in Arecibo and Manatí.
Runtime: 126 minutes
The Lord of the Flies (1963)
This was the first film adaptation of William Golding’s 1954 book. It starred James Aubrey, Hugh Edwards, and Tom Gaman in the title roles. While the schoolboys’ plane crashes and leaves them stranded on an unnamed island on the Pacific Ocean, most of the movie was done in parts of Puerto Rico, such as the island of Vieques, Aguadilla, and El Yunque.
Runtime: 91 minutes
22 Jump Street (2014)
Not to be confused with the 1987–1991 TV series starring Johnny Depp and Holly Robinson, this movie was the second in a milder and more comedic version of the show and starred Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. There were some scenes done in San Juan and Old San Juan. Here, the partners go undercover at a college as opposed to a high school.
Runtime: 112 minutes
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
The fourth movie in this series based upon a ride at Walt Disney World brought back Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley. In this one, Captain Jack Sparrow is searching for the Fountain of Youth alongside a former love played by Penelope Cruz and against his longtime rival, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Filming was done in several spots in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and Puerto Rico.
Runtime: 141 minutes
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
A remake of the 1987 Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze dance romance blockbuster movie, this one starred Romola Garai and Diego Luna in the lead roles. The storyline remained similar to the original in parts though the setting changed from upstate New York to Cuba. Speaking of, while the title speaks otherwise, this film was actually done in Puerto Rico.
Runtime: 86 minutes
Fast Five (2011)
The fifth movie in this car racing action movie series, and a direct sequel to the 2009 movie, starred Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and a host of others. It was the first movie to stray from the very car-centric previous ones and headed more into the realm of a heist movie. Filming was done in Atlanta and Rio de Janeiro as well as Puerto Rico.
Runtime: 130 minutes
The Rum Diary (2011)
This comedy-drama was based upon a 1998 Hunter S. Thompson novel and starred Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and Aaron Eckhardt. A great deal of filming was done in Puerto Rico as the story is mostly set there. Tired of the New York grind, Paul Kemp, a freelance journalist, takes a job in Puerto Rico. Where he finds it to be just as shady and corrupt.
Runtime: 119 minutes