10 famous beach locations for filming

film still showing a beach location from The Beach

From the sun-kissed shores of the Greek islands to the rugged coastlines of the Pacific, beach filming locations offer filmmakers a canvas of natural beauty perfect for evoking dramatic cinematic themes. Looking at 10 beach locations across the globe, we reveal the real-life coastal landscapes that stood in for some of cinema’s most iconic seaside scenes.

Contents:

  1. Maya Bay, Thailand
  2. Freshwater West, Wales
  3. Itzurun Beach, Spain
  4. Indian Beach, Oregon
  5. Kastani Beach, Greece
  6. Paradise Island beach, the Bahamas
  7. Fort Wetherill State Park, Rhode Island
  8. Petit Tabac, St Vincent and the Grenadines
  9. Plage de Malo-Les-Bains, France
  10. El Matador State Beach, California

1. Maya Bay, Thailand

Film still showing a beach filming location from The Beach

Nestled on the island of Ko Phi Phi Le in Thailand, lies the breathtaking white, sandy beach of Maya Bay. If you don’t already recognise it from envy-scrolling your friend’s travel Instagram, you might clock that it serves as the backdrop for Danny Boyle’s The Beach.

Characterised by clear turquoise waters, powdery white sands, and lush, green cliffs that curtain its cove, Maya Bay is the definition of picturesque. The Leonardo DiCaprio of beach locations, if you will (beautiful and woefully out-of-reach).

2. Freshwater West, Wales

Film still showing a beach location from Harry Potter

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, this beach is likely burned in your memory for featuring one of the franchise’s most heartbreaking scenes. As a great figure once said, it’s “such a beautiful place to be with friends” (cue the tears…).

Fresh Water West is a sand and rock beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales, made famous for its place in Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, as well as Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. This just goes to show that some beach filming locations are too good not to be returned to.

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3. Itzurun Beach, Spain

Film still showing a beach filming location from Game of Thrones

Amongst the many iconic filming locations featured in Game of Thrones is Itzurun Beach, which sets the scene for Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) arrival in Westeros in her quest to reclaim the Iron Throne i.e. kind of a biggie.

Known for its distinctive striated rocks, dark sands and dramatic cliff edges, Itzurun fits well into its adoptive name of Dragonstone Beach. In real life, the beach -located in the Basque Country- is popular for a range of activities including surfing, canoeing, and scuba diving. Bring your blonde wig and play out your GoT water-sports spin-off.

4. Indian Beach, Oregon

Film still showing a seaside scene from Twilight

Any Twihards out there will recognise this gloomy, dramatic beach immediately as Twilight‘s La Push. Just like in the books, La Push is a real place within the Quileute Indian Reservation, near Forks, Washington. However, the film’s production team opted for the Indian Beach in in Ecola State Park, Oregon for shooting these iconic seaside scenes.

The beautiful West Coast shoreline of Indian Beach was once home to Native Americans of the Tillamook tribe, but is now a popular hiking trail and surfing spot. Raincoats and thermals recommended.

5. Kastani Beach, Greece

Film still showing a beach location from Mamma Mia!

It’s not difficult to see why Mamma Mia‘s producers chose the beautiful Kastani Beach as their primary beach filming location; white sands and bright blue waters, surrounded by lush forests and near-constant sunshine… Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

Unsurprisingly, the film attracted mass tourism to the island of Skopelos, where Kastani Beach lies. So when the franchise decided to move production to the Croatian island of Vis for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, there was a bit of tension over loosing such a lucrative business opportunity.

6. Paradise Island beach, the Bahamas

Film still showing a seaside scene from Casino Royale

In Casino Royale, Bond (Daniel Craig) arrives on Paradise Island by helicopter, and stays in a sea-front villa at The Ocean Club Resort on Paradise Island, the Bahamas.

Paradise Island plays into its Hollywood associations by welcoming fans to stay in 007’s beach-view villa, and if you were lucky enough to visit the island back in 2022, you could have even indulged in a super-secret 007 tasting menu, which paid homage to the franchise in celebration of its 60th anniversary.

7. Fort Wetherill State Park, Rhode Island

Film still showing a beach filming location from Moonrise Kingdom

The secluded beach of Fort Wetherill State Park plays an important role in Wes Anderson’s coming-of-age comedy Moonrise Kingdom. Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) explore their new feelings of love and self-discovery after running away together into the New England wilderness. The secluded cove provides the backdrop for a humorous and touchingly innocent dance scene between the two young runaways.

You can visit the seaside hideout beneath Fort Wetherill on Conanicut Island, Rhode Island.

8. Petit Tabac, St Vincent and the Grenadines

Film still showing a beach filming location from Pirates of the Caribbean

Stepping in as another well-cast tropical paradise, Petit Tabac is an uninhabited island located in the eastern Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines. In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl, Jack (Johnny Depp) and Elizabeth (Kiera Knightley) end up stranded on the “Rumrunner’s island”, where they spend a night drinking rum and dancing around a campfire.

Visitation to the island is common through tourism and fishing practices, though many are concerned due to the environmental impact and lack of local benefit.

9. Plage de Malo-Les-Bains, France

Film still showing a seaside scene from Dunkirk

True to his reputation as a champion of authenticity, Christoper Nolan filmed Dunkirk with a fierce commitment to its historical roots. Many of the film’s scenes were filmed at Plage de Malo-Les-Bains, on the outskirts of Dunkirk, reflecting the beach’s real-life role in Operation Dynamo, when 340,000 British and French soldiers were evacuated to England during World War II.

Malo-Les-Bains remained as the key beach filming location throughout the historical film‘s production, in a conscious attempt to retain as much accuracy as possible.

10. El Matador State Beach, California

Film still showing a beach filming location from The Notebook

Last but certainly not least, we revisit the heart-wrenching cult classic, The Notebook. In an iconic scene between Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams), Allie delivers what can only be described as the 1940s version of “would you still love me if I was a worm?”.

The rocky beach with crashing waves is El Matador State Beach in Malibu, California. Descend a steep staircase along the cliff edge, enjoy the soft sands and lively rock pools, and make your boyfriend tell you that you’re a bird.

Wrapping up

There you have it – 10 famous beach locations featured in some of cinema’s most memorable seaside scenes. Beaches and coastlines are perfect for evoking a wide range of cinematic effects; from romance to adventure, war to paradise, choosing a coastal filming location can help you play into dramatic themes and key emotions in your film. So if you’re looking for the perfect beach filming location, take inspiration from some of the greats, or perhaps even revisit one of these iconic seaside locations.

Need a place to store your shoot locations?

SuperScout is your own private location library – upload locations in minutes, tag them with ai in seconds, then search and share with your team