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The Canary Islands transform into a film set

La Gomera

It’s not often you can say you’ve been on holiday with the stars, but if you’ve been anywhere near the Canary Islands over the past few months, you might have spotted a tousle-haired Chris Hemsworth chilling out on the beach. Ron Howard’s latest film In the Heart of the Sea has been shooting on location in the tiny island of La Gomera since late last year and it seems the lesser-known Canary Isle has lent itself perfectly to the task.

With a small population and far fewer holiday resorts than its more famous neighbour, Tenerife, La Gomera rarely sees much action beyond visitors idly strolling the cliff-tops and locals going about their business in the high-altitude villages inland. But, it’s this sense of remoteness – coupled with idyllic vistas of pink bell flowers, ancient rainforests and coasts lined with date palms – that has made it the ideal spot to set a 19th century fishing yarn.

Based on the true story that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – not Moby Dick itself – In the Heart of the Sea is the tale of the ‘Essex’, a whaling ship that sank in 1820 after being attacked by an 85-foot sperm whale.

sperm whale

La Gomera’s coastline consequently stands in as South America’s, though the ‘storms’ that plagued the sailing vessel had to be created by filmmakers using an infinity pool, since the warm, gentle surf of Tapahuga Beach was not nearly chaotic enough. That said, movie star Hemsworth did have to be evacuated along with the rest of the cast and crew last December, as flash floods hit the island in a real-life movie moment.

It’s not the first time that these postcard-worthy Spanish Islands have been chosen for their filmic quality. Parts of 2009’s Clash of the Titans remake, as well as Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, were shot on largest Canary Isle, Tenerife, with the lunar make-up of its volcanic landscape proving particularly evocative.

The southerly port of Playa de Santiago is the main hub for the cast and crew on this set, meaning the local economy has received a huge boost of an estimated 5 million Euros, with around 150 jobs created for residents. In any case, the showbiz spotlight on La Gomera seems certain to spread the word about the island’s timeless natural beauty – and deservedly so. Why not plan your next trip to take in this fantastic location?

Images by Edmund Urbani and cianc, used under Creative Commons licence.

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