If you’re one of those who prefer their Pina-Coladas shaken, not stirred, here are some tips on how to experience the Caribbean like Bond, James Bond. Don’t forget the tux.
Bond loves the Bahamas, or at least the bad guys he’s chasing do. More Bond films and more Bond bad guys have been shot there than anywhere else. Why don’t you rent the Double O suite at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau where scenes from Thunderball and Never say Never were shot? You can hang out at the Atlantis Resort like Bond but remember, you’ll never see James giggling down the water slide so if you want to emulate him, try the casino. If you stroll down Bay Street in Nassau, you may run into a Junkanoo parade just like Bond in Thunderball.
Bond usually flew into Kingston on a MI6 Lear jet, but chances are, you’re flying commercial, so you can go directly into Montego Bay. Head up the coast to Ocho Rios in your Aston Martin and you will not only be in the area where Dr. No was shot, you will be near Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s estate where he wrote the novels. You can even slink out of the ocean just like Ursula Andress as Honey Rider (you gotta love those Bond girl names,) did in Dr. No’s famous bikini scene though the effect works best if you’re a woman. Dr. No’s island called Crab Key is actually the Ocho Rios area with a lot of the shots filmed right on Flemming’s estate. Do you get the feeling James Bond is a fictional character? Me neither.
The Arecibo Observatory was featured in Goldeneye, standing in as a satellite facility supposedly in Cuba. They do have a visitor’s center but I doubt they’ll let you roll around on the giant dish like Bond and the rogue British agent he fought in the movie’s climax. I wonder if the astronomers there wear Tuxes and introduce themselves as “Smith, Dr. John Smith”?
Colon stands in as Port-au-Prince, Haiti when Bond meets Dominic Green (what happened to the cool names?) in Quantum of Solace. Even James would rather not visit Haiti so they used the Caribbean side of the canal as a stand in. Panama is becoming the hot new spot to visit according to several travel magazines, travel websites and my neighbor Gene.
The fictional Republic of Isthmus in License to Kill was actually Mexico where city scenes were shot in Acapulco and Mexico City. Several underwater scenes were filmed in the crystal clear waters around Isla Mujeres which translates to Island of Women. A perfect Bond location but alas, they didn’t shoot there so no Spanish versions of Pussy Galore, Holly Goodhead or Plenty O’Toole on the island. The waters in this area are among the world’s best for diving and snorkeling though, and here’s a chance to put on that tux and check out the nightlife in Cancun.
Key West, Florida
You don’t need your passport for this one; it’s still in the U.S. but just 90 miles from Cuba. That’s close enough though not technically in the Caribbean. The 7 Mile Bridge near Marathon was featured in License to Kill when an armored truck goes off the bridge. Other sites included Ernest Hemmingway’s house and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville nightclub. Okay, I made that last one up just to see if you were paying attention. You know there’s a Margaritaville there though, heck, they’re everywhere in the Caribbean. The clear waters here would be a great place to drive Bond’s Lotus/submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me. Please don’t tell be that was fake too.
By Michael Ryan