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Puerto Rico is the third largest island in the Caribbean and boasts an extraordinary variety of scenery and landscapes, both natural and man-made. From jungle to the beach to mountain to the historic walled city, almost everywhere you turn on this beautiful island looks like the backdrop to a movie…which is perhaps why so many films have been shot here!

Puerto Rico’s stunning natural beauty and glorious historic architecture have made it a favorite choice of movie directors over the years, and a large number of famous movies boast Puerto Rico in the background, whether or not they are actually set there!

For film buffs traveling to Puerto Rico, the chance to visit some of these famous film locations is too good to miss. So if you are planning a Puerto Rican cruise experience next summer, or just have your eyes on an exotic Caribbean vacation, here are some of the most exciting and interesting films and TV series that have been filmed in Puerto Rico. 

Fantasy Island

A sleeper hit in the 70s, this remake of the original is set in a luxury resort in the Caribbean, where the dreams and fantasies of the guests are brought to life. The series was filmed in the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico, in the Rio Grande. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The follow-up to the smash hit Marvel movie Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is one of the most eagerly awaited movies of 2022. Director Ryan Coogler used San Juan and the Puerto Rican countryside extensively in this movie…and it is not the first time that the island has played a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! San Juan stood in for Lagos, in Nigeria, in Captain America: Civil War, as well. 


While many movies are set in Cuba, due to political reasons few are actually shot there. In the James Bond classic GoldenEye, Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan are pit against one another in a climactic battle in a gigantic satellite telescope, supposedly a secret location in Cuba but actually the abandoned Arecibo Observatory in the north of Puerto Rico!

Bad Boys II

Another movie that replaced Cuba with Puerto Rico, Bad Boys II has Will Smith and Martin Lawrence chasing bad guys around ‘Havana’, actually played by a combination of San Juan, Manati, and Arecibo!

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

As you might imagine, Puerto Rico features heavily in pirate films and TV series. In the 4th movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz explore Castillo San Cristobal in San Juan, the Cueva del Indio in Arecibo, and are marooned on the desert island of Palominito, not far from Fajardo. 

The Rum Diary

Finally, a film where Puerto Rico actually plays Puerto Rico! The Rum Diary is a journal of Hunter S. Thompson’s time as a journalist in Puerto Rico, and so unsurprisingly the film was shot here. San Juan plays a prominent role, as do the gorgeous beaches in Vieques and Vega Baja. 


Steven Spielberg’s harrowing, haunting, and brilliant film about the horrors of slavery is a superb watch and uses El Moro fort in San Juan to represent a fortification in Sierra Leone where slaves were bought and sold before being transported across the Middle Passage to America. 


The observatory in Arecibo is a favorite filming destination and features in this sci-fi classic starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey.

Fast Five

Finally, while Fast Five (the fifth in the Fast & Furious series) might take place predominantly in Brazil, the vast majority of the action scenes were shot in the Hato Rey district of San Juan. 

Published by HOLR Magazine.