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Wednesday July 17th 2024

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides | 2011

Pirates Of The Caribbean, On Stranger Tides location: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey
Pirates Of The Caribbean, On Stranger Tides location: Jack and Gibbs are taken off to St James Palace: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey | Photograph: wikimedia / Duncan Harris

There’s very little of the Caribbean for the fourth in the series, as a new director comes aboard and a starts a new storyline.

For the first time, there’s no St Vincent at all. The only locations in the Caribbean are found on Puerto Rico, at the very beginning and end of the film.

The ‘Cadiz’ fort, in which the old man fished out of the sea reveals the existence of the Fountain of Youth to the Spanish, is Castillo San Cristóbal in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Also known as Fort San Cristóbal, the fortification was built in 1783 by Spain to protect against attacks on the city of San Juan. Entry to the city was sealed by San Cristóbal's double gates, virtually encircling the city. About a third of the structure was demolished in 1897 ease the flow of traffic in and out of the city. You can now visit the fort as part of San Juan National Historic Site.

And at the end of the film, the desert island on which Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) leaves Angelica (Penelope Cruz) stranded is Palominito, a small cay about four miles off the coast of Fajardo, on Puerto Rico’s eastern tip.

Pirates Of The Caribbean, On Stranger Tides filming location: Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
Pirates Of The Caribbean, On Stranger Tides location: the streets of ‘London’: Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London

...On Stranger Tides also becomes the first in the franchise to feature old England, with a digital St Paul’s Cathedral looming over the Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, London SE10, standing in – as it so often does – for the streets of London (except of course for Les Misérables, where it stands in rather less convincingly for the streets of old Paris).

Studio interiors were in fact filmed in the UK, at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, which is where the courtroom in which Gibbs (Kevin McNally) is tried by the oddly kohl-eyed judge was built.

After the trial, Jack and Gibbs find themselves transported to ‘St James’ Palace’, which is the courtyard of Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey in Surrey. Originally built in 1514 for Cardinal Wolsey, the palace became a royal residence when it was taken over and expanded by King Henry VIII.

Oddly, Hampton Court is rarely seen on screen, though it did appear in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Terrence Malick’s The New World, and Bryan Singer's 2013 Jack The Giant Slayer, and its formal gardens stand in for those of ‘Buckingham Palace’ at the end of Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory Of Everything. For its most famous screen ‘appearance’ in the Oscar-winning A Man For All Seasons, a set was used.

We’re soon back in the Old Royal Naval College as Jack is dragged into the entrance to the extravagant Painted Hall, which you can see in films such as The Madness Of King George, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella.

Then things start to look a little odd, as King George (Richard Griffiths) enters through a secret door. You won’t find this in the Painted Hall.

By the time Jack swings from the chandelier and crashes through the window, you’ve probably realised that this is a studio set. The entrance staircase is the real Greenwich, but the King’s dining room is another elaborate set at Pinewood.

The chase through the streets of London (with the tiniest cameo from Judi Dench in the coach) once more uses the extensive grounds of the Royal Naval College.

The dockyard street and the ‘Captain’s Daughter’ inn were built at Pinewood, but there’s one more English location. The prison yard, where Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) threatens to hang Gibbs, is the courtyard at the beautifully preserved 17th century Knole House, Knole Lane, Sevenoaks, in Kent.

The house, now a National Trust property, has also been seen as the ‘Palace of Whitehall’ in The Other Boleyn Girl, as a ‘German’ castle for Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows; and an ‘Edinburgh’ market in John Landis’s Burke and Hare.

As Jack, Barbossa and the Spanish forces all set off in search of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth in the Caribbean, the place they’re actually heading to is Hawaii.

Barbossa’s ship, the ‘Providence' is the HMS Surprise, a replica of 1757 frigate HMS Rose, filmed off the coast of Long Beach, California, though which you can usually see at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The Surprise can also be seen in Master And Commander: The far Side Of The World.

Blackbeard’s skeleton-decorated ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ is our old friend The Black Pearl, given a substantial makeover and filmed in the waters of Hawaii at Barber's Point and at Heeia Kea Boat Dock in Kaneohe on the island of Oahu.

'Whitecap Bay', where a clutch of unfortunate crew members is left in a rowing boat as bait for the ravenous mermaids, is Halona Cove, off Kalanianaole Highway, about 10 miles east of Honolulu on the island of Oahu. The cove achieved screen notoriety in 1953 when Deborah Kerr rolled in the surf here with Burt Lancaster in From Here To Eternity.

The mermaid pools were built in the grounds of the Turtle Bay Resort, 57-091 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, on the North Shore of Oahu. You probably know this luxury resort from its starring role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Most of the tropical landscapes, though, are on the beautiful Garden isle of Kauai, including the Allerton Garden, 4425 Lawai Road, Koloa, part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which was also seen in Jurassic Park; as well as Grove Farm; Valley House Ranch and the Kipu Ranch.

The Kipu Ranch, south from Kaumualii Highway on the east coast, just south of Lihue, is a working cattle ranch, not generally open to the public, but you can take a tour with Kipu Ranch Adventures which takes in the filming locations.

When Jack is sent off alone to investigate the island, he comes across the magnificent Honopu Arch, on Honopu Beach. The beach is inaccessible by land (Johnny Depp arrived on set by helicopter), but you can see the spectacular feature if you take a boat tour.

The coconut groves, where Jack is held captive along with Barbossa, are on the grounds of the old shuttered Coco Palms Hotel near Kapa'a, where Elvis filmed Blue Hawaii back in 1961.

The Fountain of Youth itself was built on the huge 007 Stage at Pinewood, but the grotto which leads to it is Waikapala'e, on Kauai's North Shore. One of two wet caves in the area, Waikapala'e was formed as a sea cave, but is now fed by spring waters.

The cave is famed for its Blue Room – behind the main cave lies a small chamber accessible only by swimming, which at certain times glows blue with reflected sunlight. Waikapala'e is accessed from a short hike off the Kuhio Highway just before Mile Marker #10, but accessing the cave and – particularly – the Blue Room can be a bit risky, so take care.

See also:
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End