11 Movies That Explore Tropical Islands, Because You Aren’t Going There Yourself

Interstellar (2014)

Explorers arrive on a world covered in knee-high water. Distant “mountains” come sweeping towards them: a planet-spanning kilometres-high killer tide. They escape, only for an unhinged astronaut to maroon them, a little later, on a solid airborne cloud of exotic ice.

Often silly, sometimes truly visionary, Interstellar is the best rejoinder the 21st century has yet made to Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey. Matthew McConaughey plays Joseph Cooper, a widowed NASA pilot who is called upon to journey into interstellar space to find an Earthlike “Planet B” for us to move to, now that the Earth’s food system is collapsing. Jessica Chastain plays his grown-up daughter, haunted by her father’s ghost.

Their performances carry real conviction, but it is the set pieces that matter. Gargantua, a spinning black hole that provides the film with its climax, is a visual effect calculated so accurately by physicist Kip Thorne and rendered so meticulously by London effects studio Double Negative, it ended up in a paper for the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Years earlier, Thorne and film producer Lynda Obst had conceived of a movie exploring what, in an interview with Science magazine, Thorne called “the warped side of the universe – black holes, wormholes, higher dimensions, and so forth”. They’re the subject of Thorne’s very entertaining book The Science of Interstellar.

Nolan, meanwhile, has gone on to make movies of increasing complexity. Tenet is his latest, doing for time what Interstellar did for space.

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Apollo 13 (1995)

On 11 April 1970, a seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space programme launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was due to land in the Fra Mauro crater, and help establish the early history of both the moon and Earth.

Two days into the journey, an oxygen tank in the spacecraft’s service module exploded, and their flight path was changed to loop them around the moon and bring them back to Earth on 17 April. Dizzy from carbon dioxide levels in the air, mounting at a rate they thought would kill them, soaking wet from all the condensation, cold because power was now severely limited, and with only plastic bags of their own urine for company they couldn’t jettison for fear this would alter their course, commander Jim Lovell, command module pilot Jack Swigert and Lunar Module pilot Fred Haise uttered hardly a word of complaint. Incredibly, they survived.

For his script, director Ron Howard has added one argument between Swigert (Kevin Bacon) and Haise (Bill Paxton) and otherwise changed barely a word of the official Apollo 13 transcript. Tom Hanks plays Lovell as a capable man dealing with a crisis. There are no epiphanies. Souls aren’t searched. For some, this might make for a slightly muted experience. But this painstakingly accurate film (the sets included bits of the Apollo 13 command module; even the actors’ pressure suits were airtight) remains peerless, utterly convincing in every shot and every gesture.

The House of Mirth (2000)

Terence Davies utilised Gillian Anderson’s poised elegance to good advantage in this brilliantly controlled adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel. Anderson plays Lily Bart, the woman whose reputation and standing are gradually sullied until she becomes an unmarriageable outcast in end of 19th-century America. AP Read the review

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Hubert Selby Jr’s lacerating novel that lasers in on the exhilaration and tragedy of addiction is given expansive, stylish treatment by the then-emerging director Darren Aronofsky. Incredibly glamorous and miserably heartbreaking, this film gave notice of Aronofsky’s brilliance. AP Read the review

It still looks unique … Persepolis. Photograph: Marjane Satrapi/Vincent Paron

2. Bora Bora, Tahiti

Bora Bora, Tahiti
Bora Bora, Tahiti

Bora Bora is the quintessential South Pacific paradise. This lush and dramatically beautiful island in French Polynesia rises to a sharp emerald peak ringed by an azure lagoon. Clusters of coconut palms bristle along the beaches, and luxury bungalows perch over the crystal-clear waters, some with glass floor panels, so you can peer into the thriving sea below.

While Bora Bora scores top points for natural beauty, it also ticks the box if you’re seeking some cultural appeal. The official language is French, and you can taste the Gallic influence in the gourmet cuisine. Add a bevy of fun water sports, kayak trips to tiny motu (islands), picturesque hiking trails, and adventures such as shark dives, and, it’s easy to see why many travelers rank pricey Bora Bora as a top honeymoon destination. It’s the ultimate, once-in-a-lifetime place for a tropical vacation, and one of the best tropical vacations for couples.

Accommodation: Best Resorts in Bora Bora

Recommended Resorts:

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

It has “summer” in the title—of course we were going to include Wet Hot American Summer, a satirical comedy set at a camp in the ’80s, on this list.  Available to stream on Peacock

The Blue Lagoon

The original Blue Lagoon, starring Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields, was shot on the islands of Fiji – specifically Nanuya Levu.

19. Mauritius

Aerial view of Mauritius
Aerial view of Mauritius

Known as the “pearl of the Indian Ocean,” Mauritius is an island paradise off the coast of Madagascar. Volcanic landscapes endow the island with a striking beauty, and luxury resorts with spas and golf courses line the silky-sand beaches.

Beaches are a highpoint. Le Morne beach, Flic en Flac, and Pereybere are standouts, and many guests book a trip to Iles aux Cerf to loll in the idyllic lagoon. With all the enticing turquoise water, aquatic activities rank high on the list of top things to do in Mauritius. Swim or snorkel along the beautiful beaches, dive the colorful coral reefs off the island’s west coast, kitesurf, sail, or book a deep-sea fishing trip.

Mauritius is also known for its many endemic species of both plants and animals (most famously the dodo, which became extinct in the 17th century). Top nature experiences include hiking to Chamarel Waterfall, climbing UNESCO-listed Morne Brabant, and spotting some of the island’s many species of birds.

And if you’re feeling hungry, Mauritius cuisine will tantalize your taste buds. It reflects the island’s multicultural roots with Indian, African, Chinese, and French influences.

With all these rewarding things to see and do, no wonder Mauritius makes the list of popular places to visit for a tropical honeymoon.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo lead this wonderfully silly movie about two middle-aged Midwestern women who embark on a gal's trip to Florida. “It goes down like a blue raspberry slushy on a 90-degree day,” Glamour writer Jenny Singer praises.  Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

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