BEACH VACATION IDEAS
Top 10 Beaches From the Movies
10 landmark films, 10 ridiculously beautiful beaches. We found Hollywood's most vaunted locations—and are giving you the keys to get there.
The beach: Set on Kauai's northern coast, Lumahai is hemmed by ironwood trees at one end and steep, fluted mountains at the other. The beach is popular with surfers, but the currents can be treacherous for swimmers and there's no lifeguard (some locals even call it "Luma-die"). Swim at your own risk. That, or just kick back, relax, and watch the waves roll in. For $93.50, Ali'I Movie Excursion and Scenic Hanalei (haiwaiitours.com) leads seven-hour trips to film locations from South Pacific and other movies shot on Kauai, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Getting there: Drive north out of Lihue about 35 miles north on Highway 56 to the western edge of Hanalei Bay.
Cape St. Francis, South Africa—The Endless Summer (1966)
The flick: The surf doc after which all others were modeled, this film traces the worldwide quest of Robert August and Mike Hynson to find the perfect wave. The scene: The pair lands in South Africa, crest a dune on Cape St. Francis, and find exactly what they have been looking for, a perfectly-cresting righthand break.
The beach: While neighboring Jeffrey's Bay has become Surf Central (with the accompanying tourist tchotchkes), Cape St. Francis has gone upscale, with the expansion of shops and townhouses. The famed break—called Bruce's Beauties—sits about a mile up the coast from the Cape, near St. Francis Bay.
Getting there: The perfect ride does not come so easily. The flight between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth in the southeast is about 90 minutes and Cape St. Francis is a 90-minute drive to the south from there along N2 road and R330. The best time to visit is May to September, when swells have been known to reach 10 feet and rides can last up to 30 seconds.
Devil's Beach, Nanuya Levu Island (Turtle Island), Fiji—The Blue Lagoon (1980)
The flick: The movie that brought Brooke Shields, then 15, into the limelight, The Blue Lagoon tells the story of cousins falling in love after being shipwrecked on a deserted island. Its success won Shields' a Time cover as "The80s Look." The scene: Shields's character, her cousin (Christopher Atkins), and a galley cook beach their emergency craft in a wide but well-protected lagoon.
The beach: Set on the 500-acre island, Devil's Beach is just as idyllic as when it was filmed more than 20 years ago—all palm trees and shallow coral reefs—but it's got a few more services. Many guests choose to rent a sailboat or kayak and float to within feet of the coral reefs, all the easier for snorkeling.
Getting there: The island is now a private resort, so guests transfer from Nadi International Airport for a 30-minute flight here. One particular: During filming, clocks on Nanuya Levu were set an hour ahead of Fiji's standard time to max out peak sunlight, and the island has kept that habit since.
Leo Carrillo Beach, Malibu, California—The KarateKid (1984)
The flick: With a remake out last year, The Karate Kid proves again that its coming of age formula is as powerful as ever—to date, the remake has grossed $360 million at the box office. The scene: In the original movie when master Pat Morita and his protégé Ralph Macchio practice the fictional "crane" move (one leg lifted, both arms up) with the Pacific glittering behind them.
The beach: 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica, this Malibu-area state park may be Hollywood's favorite stretch of sand for shooting minor beach scenes, appearing in such films as Inception, The Usual Suspects, Point Break, and Beach Blanket Bingo. Framed by sycamore trees and steep headlands, the 1.5-mile-long coastline is a favorite with surfers, swimmers, and picnickers up from Los Angeles.
Getting there: Find the beach by driving north on the Pacific Coast Highway and stopping just short of its intersection with Mulholland Drive.