The Dominican Republic isn’t just known for its beaches, palm trees, colonial architecture, and Caribbean flair. Since the mid-’70s, it’s also a popular location for shooting Hollywood movies (thanks to Francis Ford Coppola for putting it on the world’s cinematic map). Together with the Dominican Ministry of Tourism, we tell you how to drive around the country so you can visit the filming locations of legendary films, from The Godfather to Fast and Furious. It is obviously that the picturesque scenery of Dominican Republic is worth filming there.
Colonial Centre in Santo Domingo (The Godfather 2)
Many tourists begin their trip in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. This is, by the way, the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere founded by Europeans. It was founded by the younger brother of Christopher Columbus, Bartolomeo. Santo Domingo is also the country’s most popular location for filming movies. It all started in 1973 when Francis Ford Coppola was faced with a challenge.
An essential part of the second The Godfather story is set in Cuba, but it was impossible to film there because of the cold war. The director and producers came up with the idea of putting the filming in the Dominican Republic. It wasn’t the easiest decision: the Americans had never made a big film there, and the country, although booming economically, still remembered the end of the dictatorship a decade earlier. Nevertheless, everything went as well as possible.
The Amber Museum in Puerto Plata (Jurassic Park)
We head to Puerto Plata, a town on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from the capital. Remember where the dinosaurs in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park came from? Their DNA was recovered from ancient insects frozen in amber. The film pieces are not fake; they come from the local amber museum, which survives to this day. What’s more, about 15% of the Jurassic Park footage was shot in Puerto Plata, including the scenic views from Mount Isabel de Torres nearby.
The golden beaches at Montecristi (Fast and the Furious 7)
Further along the coastline, we head westwards to the town of Montecristi. The seventh “Forsage” heroes are in different parts of the world but have not reached Dominica (but they have driven here in the fourth part of the film). However, the producers of the film decided to shoot the beach scenes in Montecristi. It just so happens that one of the last scenes in his career on the beaches of the Dominican Republic and filmed actor Paul Walker – it ends with the seventh “Forsage” dedicated to his memory.
The Chavon River in La Romana (Apocalypse Now)
We continue to explore the coastline. As we’ve already discovered, Coppola successfully passed off the Dominican Republic as Cuba in The Godfather, but he didn’t stop there. “Apocalypse Now, which takes place in Vietnam, was also filmed in the Dominican province of La Romana. Many viewers still imagine this Asian country from footage shot in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic, for example, was the location for the famous scene with the helicopters flying into the attack to Wagner’s Die Fledermaus des Valkyries. Would you like to visit there? Come to the town of La Romana and head to the nearby Chavon River. This is exactly the place from the film.
The wild jungle in Jaragua National Park (Survive At Any Cost)
Not strictly Hollywood, but Bear Grylls, who is more popular than many Oscar-winning actors. In the most famous scene of episode nine, the British survivalist eats a giant spider for dinner. The action is set in Jaragua National Park, the largest in the Dominican Republic but also in the Caribbean. The park is located on the southern coast, close to the border with Haiti. You don’t need to be prepared to eat spiders to visit the park; there are plenty of options for excursions of varying degrees of extremity.