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Saturday February 24th 2024

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest | 2006

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest location: Hampstead Beach, Dominica
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest location: Jack Sparrow escapes the cannibals | Photograph: wikimedia / Hans Hillewaert

The unexpected runaway success of The Curse of the Black Pearl demanded a sequel, and a bit of plotline retrofitting turned the franchise into a trilogy. Once again, Wallilabou Bay on St Vincent became ‘Port Royal’, though since the completion of the first film, there had been some damage to the dock, so the eagle-eyed may well spot some differences from the original port – as well as the addition of the ‘East India Trading Company’ offices.

The church for the opening wedding scene', by the way, was constructed in Palos Verdes, on the coast south of Los Angeles – the same location where the original ‘Port Royale’ set had been built for ...Curse Of The Black Pearl. A few more shots of the dangling ‘bone cages’ were also filmed here.

Among the period vessels anchored in the bay, the ‘Edinburgh Trader’ is the 169-foot, fully-rigged HMS Bounty, which was built for the epic 1962 MGM version of Mutiny on the Bounty, with Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris. This is the unfortunate ship which later gets swallowed up by the Kraken.

Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) has to make a bit of an entrance, this time appearing from a floating coffin. The prison coffins are thrown into the sea at Black Point Beach, on the eastern side of St Vincent.

The ‘Cannibal Island’ (come on, we’re hardly talking serious political correctness here) is Dominica. Don’t confuse this island with the Dominican Republic – which is where some of the crew’s luggage turned up.

It’s officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, named by Christopher Columbus after Sunday, the day of the week on which he first spotted it. Only 29 miles in length, and 16 miles wide, the island is in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean.

It’s Dominica’s jagged coastline, which looks so good on screen, that has discouraged larger cruise ships, thus preventing the island from becoming over-developed.

The native village of the Pelegostos – yes, a wholly fictitious tribe, there being no cannibalism in the Caribbean – was built at a spot called High Meadow, along with a nearby spot overhanging the main road called Twin Peaks, south of the island’s capital of Roseau. The long and rickety-looking rope bridge linking one side of the village to the other which looks so treacherous was In fact supported by strong steel pilings.

The chasm in which Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and his shipmates are suspended in spherical cages made of bones is Titou Gorge, in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. The park, which contains the Morne Trois Pitons volcano, can be found in the south-central interior of Dominica.

Indian River, a stretch of shallow water flowing into the ocean at Portsmouth on the northeast part of Dominica, became the ‘Pantano River’, which has to be navigated to reach the treehouse of Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris). You can take a cruise along the river, which is strikingly lined with the gnarled roots of mangrove trees.

The ruined church and adjacent graveyard on ‘Isla Cruces’, and the broken-down mill from which the huge wheel breaks free, were constructed at Vieille Case, a village on the north coast of Dominica.

The runaway wheel trundles toward Hampstead Beach, a stretch of sand on the island's northeast coast, backed by lush jungle and coconut palm groves, which is the site of the three-way swordfight between Jack Sparrow, Turner and James Norrington (Jack Davenport). It’s also where Jack Sparrow narrowly escapes from the horde of enraged islanders.

If you want to experience the island yourself, Dominica is served by two airports, Melville Hall and Canefield Airport. Most visitors arrive through Melville Hall, the larger of the two airports which accommodates commercial airlines. International flights arrive through hubs in Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The magical compass leads the crew several hundred miles to the northwest, and the Exumas,  an archipelago of 365 cays and islands in the Bahamas. Beginning 35 miles southeast of Nassau, the islands are divided into three major areas – Great Exuma, Little Exuma and The Exuma Cays.

The pale sand beach, where they discover – and fight over – the titular chest, is a sandbar a couple of miles south of Sandy Cay (confusingly, it’s also also known as White Cay), southeast of William’s Town, off Hog Cay. Accessible only by water, it’s a short boat ride from Little Exuma.

If you need any recommendation for the Exumas, this is where Johnny Depp bought one of the islands, Little Hall's Pond, for a rumoured $3.5 million.

The ocean-bound scenes were filmed at the Bahamas Film Studio, Gold Rock Creek on Grand Bahama Island, where a semi-enclosed marina provides a convenient limitless horizon for filming, as well temporary floating barges in which the vessels could be safely moored.

See also:
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End
Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides