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8 Movies You didn’t Know were Filmed in Costa Rica

Posted by Katie on March 5, 2018
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With such breathtaking scenery, it’s no surprise that so many film directors choose Costa Rica as their filming site. The small, Central American country is famously beautiful, resulting in over 2 million tourists visiting every year. Businesses plan retreats to Costa Rica, families come for Christmas, and young professionals plan six-month stays to study for their next round of certifications or job interviews. Everyone is coming to Costa Rica, and film makers have taken notice.

This trend isn’t exactly new, and chances are that you have already seen a few of these Costa Rica based films. Whether you’re pumping up for your next tropical vacation or trying to keep the “Pura Vida Life” in your soul year-round, watch a few of these movies and take notice of the landscape. You’ll be transported back to your favorite vacation destination in no time.

1. Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is famously filmed in Costa Rica. The local rainforests and jungles are the perfect setting for a paleolithic flick, and the dinosaurs look right at home. This 1993 film has always been rumored to be a perfect profile of Costa Rica, but the huge majority of the movie is actually filmed on a soundstage. No need to pay strict attention to the background during the film, the majority of that is not Costa Rica. Instead, pay attention to the opening sequence. When showing the fictional Isla Nubar, they show a full shot of Costa Rica’s Isla del Coco.

The movie may not be totally filmed in Costa Rica, but if you visit the local rainforests, you’ll see why this country was chosen to represent Jurassic Park. The thick jungle would be the perfect place for a pack of new-age dinosaurs.

2. Spy Kids 2

Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, a movie from 2002, has been a huge blockbuster favorite among kids and adults alike. The fast-paced action is addicting, so of course they chose an active, adventurous country to help set the stage.

Costa Rica’s most popular National Park, Manuel Antonio Park, was chosen as the Island of Lost Dreams. Any scenes depicting the island are shot inside this popular park, with a few select scenes based around the Arenal Volcano.

3. Suicide Squad

Very few people know this 2016 superhero action film was shot in Costa Rica. In the beginning of the film, during the introduction of archeologist June Moone, played by Cara Delevingne, all background shots are views of Costa Rica. To create the perfect effect, this film chose to locate around Sarapiquí and Pococi, some scenes even filmed inside of the private Hacienda Sueño Azul. Peal your eyes away from the elaborately dressed villains in this movie and during your next viewing, pay attention to the background. You’re going to be impressed.

4. Paddington

This British Comedy based on the Paddington Bear tells the story of a family who tries to adopt and raise a bear from Peru, but any home-based shots are actually quite far from Peru. Costa Rica was chosen as the filming location due to the dense rainforests and magical plants. Costa Rica’s assortment of bright, tropical flowers and exotic creatures created the perfect backdrop, and the scenes are truly magical.

This 2014 movie never became very widely viewed in the United States, but the fun story line and breathtaking scenery make it a great watch for any crowd. Plan your next movie night around this adventurous movie, and make some Costa Rican snacks to enjoy during your showing.

5. After Words

This movie isn’t just filmed in Costa Rica, it’s actually set in your favorite tropical country as well. Academy Award winner Marcia Harden from 50 Shades of Grey stars in this tropical flick. Escaping a mid-life crisis, our star travels to Costa Rica to find herself, and finds a friend in the process. The movie is full of adventure, romance, and jaw-dropping views of the country. This may be your best chance to see a more complete view of Costa Rica before your next trip down.

6. Basic

From 2003, a DEA agent searches for a missing legendary ranger, and his investigation takes him through some wild Costa Rican surroundings. Staring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, this fast-paced movie is as wild and genuine as its country of filming. This is another great way to see your favorite landscape between trips.

7. Surf School

Sometimes you’re in the mood for a raunchy comedy, and this high school senior film will hit the spot. Released in 2006, Surf School tells the story of a bunch of graduating friends crashing the biggest surf competition of their life with one twist, none of them yet know how to surf. You’ll have laughs, watch Costa Rica’s favorite water sport, and see some beautiful shots of local beaches We know the beaches are what you’re most excited about for your next Costa Rican vacation, skip ahead and enjoy them in a couple movies. You may even find some destination suggestions.

8. After Earth

M. Night Shyamalan movies are always interesting but this one takes the cake. The 2013 film narrates a science fiction tale starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith, and was shot entirely in Costa Rica. If you’re a fan of the La Fortuna area, this may be for you. Be ready for special effects and apocalyptic shots, but the beauty of the country still shines through.