Posted by: Jerry Garrett | October 29, 2011

Where Was The Rum Diary Filmed?

Johnny Depp & Amber Heard filming in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico.

The Rum Diary“, the movie made of Hunter S. Thompson‘s novel/memoir of the same name, was, like the book, set entirely in Puerto Rico.

You can, however, have some fun tracking down exactly where it was filmed, not to mention where it wasn’t.

The primary location was the historic and oldest areas in the capital city of San Juan. Old San Juan is a colorful pastiche of Caribbean pastels; it’s actually a small island connected to the main part of modern San Juan by three bridges. (Fans of The Fast & The Furious franchise may remember one of the bridges being used in the bank vault stunt in “Fast Five“.)

Old San Juan, founded in 1508, features classical colonial architecture that movie makers love. It can just as easily pass as a 17th century pirate-infested hangout in “Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides“, in which Johnny Depp starred earlier this year with Penelope Cruz; or, a decadent, restive Eisenhower Era U.S. possession, as it did in Rum Diary. Add a few old cars, and it’s 1960.

What about Sanderson’s beach house? Located along a pristine stretch of beach in an area, west of San Juan, called Vega Baja. The roads along which the aerial shots of Depp driving the Corvette were also filmed in this area.

Got any idea where the island paradise/U.S. Navy bombing range was? It’s the real-life Caribbean jewel, Vieques Island. The Navy really did use it as a bombing range, right up until 2003, much to the chagrin – and anger – of Puerto Ricans. Now, it’s an exclusive resort area (what a surprise, eh!) The final scene in “Fast Five” was actually filmed there. The Rum Diary crew never did film there, however! (All Vega Baja stuff.)

Neither did the production film in St. Thomas or the Virgin Islands. Again, that was Old San Juan.

Jerry Garrett

October 29, 2011


  1. I’ve been going to Vieques for twenty years now and, except for the W resort on the island, I would hardly call Vieques an exclusive resort area.
    Possibly you’re considering it exclusive because of the difficulting in getting to the island by either small prop plane or a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride from Fajardo.

    • well said dmm 🙂

  2. I have to agree, Vieques is beautiful, IT IS Far FROM EXCLUSIVE. Yes it is tough to get to but that is part of what makes it so beautiful. Also how can one talk about Vieques and not mention the BioBay????

  3. What about the exterior shot of the hotel Xanadu, when the Piper Cub is towing the banner at the intro? What hotel did they use for that? Or was it really good CGI?

  4. Some scenes were shot at the Hilton Caribe Hotel.

    At The Plage Xanadu Hotel. Let's make movies! The Rum Diary 17-April-2009
  5. Sanderson’s Beach House was Build brand new for the movie on The Governor Beach House land for the movie in Fajardo not in Vega Baja. Here coordinates for Beach House of the Governor 18.372017, -65.649034. The Fast Five film on the Bridge with the Vault was at The Moscoso Bridge in Isla Verde crossing The Laguna San Jose it is a toll Bridge that give very fast access to the Airport. coordinate here google Maps 18.424940, -66.024611. Most of the driving scenes was filmed along the beach on Roosevelt Roads Navy Base area as well in Vega Baja.

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