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

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

With vaccinations happening, it’s not totally outrageous to start thinking about escaping on a tropical getaway or even booking a future trip. But while we twiddle our thumbs waiting for the ideal moment to jet off (any time, COVID), movies can remind us of how wonderful it will be to finally dip our toes in the turquoise water and relax in the sand and sun.

For someone who looks forward to travelling as a stress reliever, the absence of tropical vacays in my life has been brutal, but movies have made things better — a little — if only because they remind me that one day, I too will get to go on a vacation again. Here are 11 sun-soaked movies hold you over until your next getaway.

Couple’s Retreat

A couple on the brink of divorce decides to enroll in a special counseling program at the tropical Eden West resort. The catch? They can’t afford it unless they enlist their best buds to come along so they can score the group rate. Director John Billingsly (Ralphie from A Christmas Story, all grown up) stages the silly antics between his cast of comedy superstars (including Vince Vaughan, Jason Bateman, and Kristen Bell) against the gorgeous backdrop of the crystal blue water and white sands of the Hawaiian islands, and though it isn’t a total knockout as a comedy, it’s almost as entertaining to just sit back and take in the scenery.

Where to stream: Digital Rental

Crazy Rich Asians

Korean-American economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is invited to attend her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) best friend’s wedding in his home city of Singapore. What Rachel doesn’t know is Nick is Nick Young, scion of the obscenely rich Young family, part of Singapore’s high society, and his mum (Michelle Yeoh) is none to happy to see him show up with an American in tow. The film is as much a romantic comedy exploring cultural and social clashes as it is a tour through the most luxurious parts of the tropical island city, the surrounding international waters, and some smaller islands off the coast. The beautiful beaches more than match the decadent venues of the city.

Where to stream: Digital rental

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

You’d be forgiven for confusing this one with Couples Retreat, but Kristen Bell apparently has a thing for rom-coms set on tropical islands. She plays the titular Sarah, a celebrity actress who dumps her nice guy boyfriend Peter (Jason Segel). Devastated, Peter doesn’t leave his house for weeks, until his stepbrother suggests he goes away on a solo vacay to a Hawaiian resort — the same resort when Sarah has shacked up with her new boo, forcing Peter to confront his demons. Alongside the broad comedy, you’ll discover what it’s like to vacation at an all-inclusive resort, and get to experience the real island of Oahu as Peter falls for a hotel staffer (Mila Kunis), who takes him around town to hang with the locals.

Where to stream: Binge

Like Father

Kristen Bell stars in yet another tropical film (what is her deal), this time playing jilted bride Rachel opposite Kelsey Grammer as her absent father, Harry. After being left at the altar, Rachel finds herself on a honeymoon cruise with her dad, whom she has not seen since her toddler days. Although the film is riddled with emotionally trying moments, the setting supplies some relief, taking us from the decks of the cruise ship, to sightseeing on a trek through the jungle, to a dream resort in the Caribbean.

Where to stream: Netflix

Ibiza: Love Drunk

Harper (Gillian Jacobs) is single and consumed by work. When she gets the chance to travel to the Italian countryside (…for work), her friends convince her to take the opportunity to relax (and determine to come with her to make sure she does it). The film gives you a tour of Italian nightlife, and when Harper and her friends chase a cute DJ to Ibiza, you get an up-close view of the tropical landscape of the southern Italian coast.

Where to stream: Netflix

Sweetheart

A young girl (Kiersey Clemons) washes up alone on a deserted white sand beach. Even as she struggles to learn to survive in an unforgiving paradise of luscious green trees and blue-green water, a terrifying creature emerges at night, hunting her and any other living creature on the island with her. Though this thriller from writer/director J.D Dillard (Utopia and Sleight) might not compel you to travel to the tropics, the beautiful scenery offsets the nighttime terrors.

Where to stream: Digital rental

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

Stella (Angela Bassett) is a hardworking stock broker who loves her job more than she loves “getting her groove on.” When her friend convinces her to take a much needed vacation, she heads out to Jamaica for rest and relaxation, and winds up getting involved with a much younger man. You’ll enjoy the sand sun and a lot more (wink wink) as Stella “gets her groove back” with sexy, hard-bodied islander Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs).

Where to stream: Digital rental

The Mighty Quinn

Denzel Washington plays police chief and detective Xavier Quinn, who is investigating the murder of a wealthy resident of a small Carribbean island. When evidence points to his childhood friend Maubee (Robert Townsend) as the culprit, Quinn senses something deeper is afoot. Watch a sweaty Denzel traipse across Port Antonio, Jamaica, and enjoy the palm trees, good music, and beautiful beaches as he tries to track down a killer.

Where to stream: N/A in Australia

Mamma Mia! and Mama Mia! Here We Go Again

In the first film based on the smash Abba-filled Broadway musical, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is soon to be wed when she finds out any one of three of her mother’s (Meryl Streep) former suitors could be her father. Hijinks (and lots of singing) ensue, and luckily there are enough Abba songs for a similarly lively sequel as well. Both Mamma Mia and Mama Mia! Here We Go Again are set in some of Greece’s most picturesque locations, and you’ll be mesmerised by the stunning blue and white landscape even as you cringe at Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice.

Where to stream: Mamma Mia! is available on Stan and Binge, while Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is currently only available as a digital rental from all the usual places.

Sex and the City

In the first Sex and the City feature film, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is all set to marry Mr. Big (Chris Noth) when he unexpectedly has second thoughts and decides not go through with it. After that wrenching emotional experience, Carrie’s best friends take her on the honeymoon trip to Mexico she was meant to have. You’ll relax on the veranda overlooking glistening beaches, sipping tropical drinks and getting into shenanigans with the famous foursome as they enjoy the ultimate girl’s trip.

Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video or Binge

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates, magic, and ancient folklore power the plots of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but don’t sleep on the gorgeous scenery. The adventures of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his ever-changing crew play out against a backdrop of the titular tropical islands, home to ancient enchanted relics and untold treasures. You’ll love joining these rum-filled pirates on a cruise across warm Caribbean seas.

Where to stream: Disney+

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