With technology advancing in leaps and bounds, it’s no doubt had an impact on the film industry. It seems like anything can be made to look real in movies these days, resulting in audiences becoming a bit more cynical and their tastes now more sophisticated. They want and expect more, especially from big budget films. Not only do sci-fi, fantasy, or action movies need to have special effects, they need to look real. At times it even seems like studios are trying to outdo each other to gain more box-office glory. In those types of films, simulations are often obvious and wanted. We know superheroes don’t exist, that there’s no Hogwarts school or Jedi knights, but we enjoy the fantasy. However quite often, regardless of film genre, what we think we’re seeing, isn’t what we’re seeing at all. Entire scenes, and even people, can be computer generated, and audiences are none the wiser.

When movie studios don’t have the budget to film in certain locations or need to create new worlds, they use an old Hollywood trick: they film somewhere cheaper and with the addition of a few set pieces, they make it seem real. Here is a list of movies that tell us they’re in a given place and the islands where they were really filmed.

22 Oahu - Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

In the sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, a young boy convinces a small group to join in finding a mysterious island full of bizarre life forms, volcanoes, and gold mountains.

Some scenes were filmed in a studio in Wilmington North Carolina, but most were shot on the island of Oahu, near the Waimea Valley and Kualoa Ranch which, according to Dwayne Johnson, was important to making the film look real; “There’s a texture where we shot that you really can’t simulate on a soundstage”. With over 20 television shows and movies having filmed there, who could argue?

21 Turtle Island - The Blue Lagoon

Based on the first book of a trilogy written by Henry De Vere Stacpoole in the early 1900s, this 1980 film is the third attempt at creating The Blue Lagoon for movie screens, a story which is as much about coming of age as it is about 2 young people needing to be rescued after being shipwrecked on a deserted island in the south pacific.

While some scenes were shot in Malta, much of the movie was filmed on the privately owned Turtle Island in Fiji.

Shortly after the film’s release, it became a hot spot for vacationing celebrities and has since become a popular destination for honeymooning couples.

20 St-Vincent and the Grenadines - Pirates of the Caribbean 

The Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise has certainly had its share of island film locations. Now on its fifth film, locations have been used in Dominica, Hawaii, and The Bahamas to serve as fictitious villages and ports. The island most used, however, appearing in the first 3 films is St-Vincent and the Grenadines. Wallilabou Bay, for example, on the leeward coast of St- Vincent appears in the opening scenes of the very first movie. Also in the first film, Petit Tabac, a desert island that is part of the Tobago Cays was where characters Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann were marooned. And in the franchise’s third instalment, a dead Kraken was beached at Black Point, on the windward coast of St-Vincent.

Pirates or no pirates, the films do an excellent job of highlighting the beauty of these islands.

19 Monuriki Island - Castaway

Poor Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks). He ends up on a deserted island when his plane crashes in the Pacific and everyone on board except him is killed. And on Christmas Eve, too! This blockbuster not only introduced us to Wilson (Noland’s loyal volleyball friend) but it introduced us to Monuriki, an island which is part of the Mamanuca archipelago of Fiji where the movie was filmed.

The island is uninhabited, both in the movie and in real life, but day trips from the mainland for snorkelling are possible,

so you can swim in some of that crystal clear water, surrounded by tropical fish.

18 Hamakua Coast and Hana - Lord of the Flies

Another film with a classic book as its source material is the 1990 film version of Lord of the Flies, a social commentary story about literal and figurative tribalism which is relevant now more than ever. A group of boys from military school end up marooned on an abandoned island after a plane crash and things quickly descend into savagery and a survival of the fittest. With the exception of two locations, Snow Hill and Frenchman's Cove in Jamaica, their ‘abandoned’ island is really Hawaii, more specifically, the Hamakua coast on the northeastern part of the island with rainforests, waterfalls and valleys.

17 The Canary Islands and Angelsey - Clash of the Titans

This remake of a 1981 movie might be based on Greek mythology, but not one scene was filmed in Greece. Several locations were used, including the mountain range of Snowdonia in Northern Wales and the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, one of the hottest places on earth. As far as islands, two were used in this movie. The first, the Canary Islands feature prominently with Teide National Park on Tenerife, the Maspalomas Dunes on Gran Canaria and Timanfaya National Park all with an otherworldly appearance. The second island is Anglesey, the largest island in Wales, used for the forest and the coast.

16 Ischia and Procida - The Talented Mr. Ripley

In this 1999 film, the second film made based on the 1955 book, the three main characters end up on a vacation in a fictitious Italian resort called Mongibello.

While Mongibello isn’t real, the captivating old world charm of the location definitely is, and it belongs to Ischia, a volcanic island off the coast of Naples and the neighbouring island of Procida.

The beach scenes and the villa where Dickie (Jude Law) stays are on Ischia (though both are privately owned which makes them difficult to access) and the town centre where we see Dickie weaving through narrow streets on his Vespa is on Procida.

15 Ko Phi Phi island - The Beach

Unlike most of the movies on this list, The Beach was actually filmed where the story claims to take place, Thailand, with one tiny exception. When Richard (the main character) looks for and then finds the idyllic paradise his fellow traveler tells him about, the location is never mentioned by name in the movie. Since the release of the film of course, Maya Bay, an enclave on Ko Phi Phi island is no longer hidden or pristine and has been overrun with tourists, all trying to get just a little of that paradise that first appeared on screen almost 20 years ago.

14 Peddocks Island - Shutter Island

In this 2010 mystery-thriller, a federal Marshall and his partner go to Shutter Island in Boston Harbor to investigate after a patient disappears from an insane asylum. Except that the true name of the island isn’t Shutter, but Peddocks.

One of the larger islands in the Harbor, it played a prominent military role in terms of defence from 1904 until the end of World War II. These days, there are a few private homes and visitors often go for a day trip to take advantage of the island’s hiking trails or to see military ruins such as Fort Andrews, which we get a glimpse of in the film.

13 Vancouver Island - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

By now, there is so many Planet of the Apes movies, it’s easy to lose track. The franchise was rebooted with the first new movie appearing in 2011, followed by two more. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, scenes that were set in Muir Woods, a forest famous for its redwood trees along the California/Oregon border weren’t actually filmed there. Instead, production chose rainforests on mainland Vancouver but also Lupin Falls Provincial Park in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. In fact, all of the recent Ape movies heavily feature Vancouver in several scenes, which is a great boost for tourism.

12 Taiwan - The Life of Pi

When The Life of Pi came to cinemas, few were left unimpressed by its visual effects. Its stunning scenes captivated audiences, earning the film 10 Oscar nominations and 4 wins. As viewers, we’re left to wonder what is real and what is computer animated, like the island that Pi lands on after weeks at sea. It’s a place with fresh water pools, vibrant and carnivorous plant life and tons of meerkats. But is it real? And if so, where is it? As with most scenes in the movie, it’s a combination of a real location with a little digital enhancement.

It was shot at a botanical reserve in Taiwan, deep within Kenting National forest, an area with many indigenous banyan trees,

then a few sets were added in to create the surreal effect.

11 The Bahamas - Casino Royale

Since this list is all about movies filmed in locations different to those on screen, you have to figure that a James Bond film would pop up somewhere. In every film, the ‘International man of mystery’ works in at least 3 different countries as he travels around the globe chasing spies. Take Casino Royale for example, where Bond, on his first mission, goes to Madagascar and ends up in a fight at the Nambutu embassy and then a chase scene with a bomb-maker. Both the embassy and the construction site where the chase scene take place is in Nassau, in the Bahamas. The embassy is in fact an abandoned Hotel and restaurant now turned rum distillery, and the construction site belongs to an abandoned hotel project on New Providence island.

10 Iceland - Prometheus

When Hollywood studios need to bring alien planets to life on screen, a popular filming location is the island nation of Iceland, chosen for its otherworldly landscapes. Take the opening scene of Prometheus, where the alien world we see is really the Dettifoss waterfall in the north of Iceland. Other scenes were shot in the south, near an active volcano called Hekla, and for both locations what we see is what we get. Few (if any) computer enhanced changes were made to either natural element or their surroundings. According to one source, director Ridley Scott chose Iceland because “it’s so rough and Jurassic-like”. Anyone who’s seen the movie will completely agree.

9 Malta - Troy 

Based on Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, this film about Ancient Greece, lovers, warriors and war was for the most part filmed in two locations. Many of the beach scenes as well as the wall and gates of Troy were filmed in Baja California and Playa El Faro Viejo, Mexico.

The city of Troy itself is, in reality, a huge ten-acre set built on Fort Ricasoli, a large fortification in Kalkara at the south entrance to the Grand Harbour on the island of Malta.

With so much of Maltese architecture dating to the medieval times and some temples even dating as far back as the Neolithic period, it’s little wonder that the island is often used by producers when making period pieces.

8 Hachijô-Kojima - Battle Royale

What do you get when you take 42 high school kids from Japan, put them on a deserted island and force them to take each others' lives until only one is left? The plot of the 2000 cult-classic, Battle Royale. The movie was filmed in various locations all over Japan, but the island where the students had to battle it out was Hachijô-Kojima, one of the small uninhabited islands 178 miles south of Tokyo in the Philippine Sea. Hachijô-Kojima isn’t much of a tourist destination, but Hachijojima, the bigger island (7 km away) definitely is, with Scuba diving, snorkelling, natural hot springs and jungle-like vegetation.

7 Papua New Guinea - Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe must be a popular novel because, since its first publication in the 18th century, it’s been adapted to film 5 different times. The most recent to feature live action (2016’s was animated) is a 1997 movie unfaithful to the novel in almost every way except one; the main character becomes shipwrecked on an unknown, uncharted island. The real location is Papua New Guinea, a series of islands in the south pacific, 160 km north of Australia. According to Papuanewguinea.travel,

“Vast tracts of the country are wild and undeveloped, with magnificent scenery that ranges from pristine coral atolls to volcanic mountains, dense tropical rainforest and large rivers,”

which makes New Guinea the perfect choice to play an abandoned island in a film.

6 St. Croix - The Shawshank Redemption

What is a movie about a banker put in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, doing on a list about island film locations? The answer lies in the final scene (spoiler alert). The characters Andy and Red reunite on a beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, a city north of Acapulco on the Pacific Coast and

fans of the movie often visit there asking locals where they can find the Shawshank beach. But surprise! The scene was actually shot on the island of St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands.

The beach, Sandy Point, is a wildlife refuge for endangered animals and the area is a great place for hiking, observing wildlife, or photography.

5 Kauai Island - Jurassic Park

Another movie franchise that seems to have no end in sight (it’s at 4 and counting) is Jurassic Park, whose plotlines always involve dinosaurs on a tropical island named Isla Nublar, just off the west coast of Costa Rica. As much as we’d like to believe that Isla Nublar is real, it’s fictional, so you can forget about googling flight prices. But you can always go to Kauai, the Hawaiian island where it was filmed. Full of green mountains and sharp cliffs, it’s a nature lover's paradise. Rainforests, waterfalls, you’ll see everything that’s in the movies. Except for the dinosaurs, of course.

4 The Dominican Republic - The Godfather II

The Godfather, a film about an Italian-American crime family in New York is considered by many to be the quintessential mob movie, whose style influenced similar films that followed and practically created a new genre. All 3 films made millions at the box office and are often quoted or referenced. The second movie of the trilogy shows us Michael Corleone in Cuba “on business” but with the US having a strict embargo on that country at the time, filming there would have been impossible. Instead, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic was used for its similar Colonial buildings and landscape.

3 Tahiti - Point Break

The 2015 remake of Point Break and the 1991 original share little in common in terms of the main characters, their backstories and their relationship dynamics. But one of the biggest ways in which the two movies differ is the sports seen in each. In the first, skydiving and surfing are pretty much it. But in the newer version, we see mountain climbing, snowboarding, biking, and extreme versions of skydiving and surfing with a little CGI mixed in. All of the surf action is said to be in France in the movie, but not so. To ride the waves, filming was done in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, a place on the south-east coast renowned for its surf breaks and heavy waves.