10 Best Island Adventure Movies to Add to Your 2021 Watch List

What do you think of when you hear “island adventure movies”? 

Many of us are drawn to such a list, thinking they’ll find hours of action-pack scenes with the remnants of special CGI effects all over. 

Well, you’re only half-way right! As you dive into our versatile and curated list of the 10 best island adventure movies to add to your 2021 watch list (or to rewatch), you’ll find a sense of thrill at every turn for sure. 

However, we show that one’s story of survival on a narrow piece of uncharted land doesn’t always involve mythical sea critters and ghouls. Sometimes the best stranded-journey is in real life as well. 

Buckle up and read on to find out more!

Top 10 Best Island Adventure Movies 

1. Cast Away (2000) – Best Island Adventure Movie Overall

It’s no surprise that Cast Away washes up on our number one spot as the best island adventure movie overall. 

Star actor Tom Hanks turns an ordinary FedEx character into a heartening classic tale of one man versus a tidal wave of unique hurdles. Far surpassing campfire-building tricks and snuggling with a volleyball, Cast Away depicts a raw and emotional human journey of natural survival after a plane crashes onto an uninhabited island. 

The film’s central theme highlights each of our life missions to persevere and adapt. Even more so, life itself is a grand adventure without any need for sea monsters or special effects. 

2. Wonder Woman (2017) – Best for the Modern Generation 

Far away on the fictional Amazon island of Themyscira, there originates Wonder Woman’s story, which is revived by Israeli starlet Gal Gadot. 

Thousands of DC comic superhero fans are enthralled by the new, captivating take on the heroine’s mythical world and her inspiring character. Creative movie masterminds seem to effectively respond to the current phenomenon of feminism, leading them to morph the perfect human symbol out of it. 

3. Papillon (2018) – Best for a Good Adaptation of an Autobiography

To this day, the true story of Henri’ Papillon’ Charriere continues to live on. 

Based on the 1970 autobiography published under the same name, the 2017 remake impressively adapts to the story of Papillion’s wrongful conviction for murder during the 1930s. As a result, he became imprisoned in the infamous French penal colony Devil’s Island

In the quest to regain his freedom, Papillion also formed unlikely bonds with several cellmates, allowing the film to highlight the importance of selflessness. As we, the audience, adventure through the movie with an allied group of on-screen convicts, we come to terms with the reality that not all islands are made out to be tropical paradises. 

Most notably, after years in a solitary cocoon, the notorious Frenchman is set free and lives to share his story. Ironically enough, his nickname Papillion translates to “butterfly.” 

4. Madagascar (2005) – Best for the Kids

In the fun Madagascar movie franchise, zoo pals, including a lion, giraffe, zebra, and hippo, all find themselves lost outside their caged kingdom. After a series of misfits, they become stranded on the African island with an uproar of royal lemurs and interesting characters. 

Voiced by our favorite comedians, Chris Rock and Ben Stiller (among a few other notable stars), your children may just ask to visit Madagascar on the next family vacay! An entertaining and clever animation for all ages, we consider Madagascar as the best island adventure movie, especially for the kids. 

Your whole soccer gang can sit back and hyena-laugh through this wacky tale of finding true friendship and a real sense of home.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) – Best for the Whole Family

It doesn’t get any better than when you put Johnny Depp in dreadlocks and false gold teeth, does it? Embark on a whirlwind of ‘argh, matey’ sword fights across the Caribbean islands with Captain Jack Sparrow and his unlikely crew of misfits. 

In this first film that cannon-fired the rest of the beloved franchise’s success, you will find that ghost pirates have risen from their sea graves. They intend to trade the governor’s captured daughter for a valuable coin that initially cursed their very souls.

Upvoted as our best island adventure movie for the whole family, we think no dads will be snoring his way through the movie this time—all thanks to Kiera Knightley. But, not even your mom will leave the couch for a restroom break, thanks to Orlando Bloom.

6. Shutter Island (2010) – Best for Deep-Thinkers and Thrill-Seekers

The idea of “adventure” is often broadly defined and can mean several different things. Perhaps, it can even mean finding a fortress-like asylum on a secluded island. 

Big-time actors – Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo – team up as partners in crime in this psychological thriller about a criminal investigation following the bloody trail of an escaped murderer. We think the mystery of an abandoned island prison combined with the eerie scenes in a locked hospital room calls on all psychology enthusiasts wanting to feel any adrenaline rush. That’s why Shutter Island hits our list as best for the deep-thinkers and thrill-seekers.

But to say the very least, some of us shudder at seeing just the movie title.

7. King Kong (2005) – Best for Date Nights

Beauty may have killed the beast here, but not all of the fans’ dreams. 

High-profile director, Peter Jackson, took a beloved monstrosity from the childhood memories of many baby boomers and their preceding generation to create what we see as modern-day Kong.

In this epic, 3-hour-long remake that grossed millions of dollars at the box office, we follow a group of filmmakers and actors to the ominous Skull Island. As the shipwrecked crew solely intend to shoot their new movie on its uncharted soil, a mysterious danger awoke to their unwelcomed arrival, setting flocks of birds flying off in the distance. 

From a jaw-ripping wrestle between a gorilla and T-Rex to the vintage 30s romance of two star-crossed lovers, we honor King Kong as the best island adventure movie for date nights. Your partner will surely clasp onto your arms (and weep)! 

8. Eat Pray Love (2010) – Best for Singles

As mentioned before, the idea of adventure encompasses anything and everything. That’s why tossing up our top 10 with Eat, Pray, Love could be a pleasant shock for island-adventure movie lovers.

Inspired by the best-selling book of the same name, Julia Roberts stars as a modern career woman who is newly divorced and ends up on a personal journey to rediscover herself. Little does she know that after venturing to Italy, then India, new love awaits her on the island of Bali. 

Singles all across the globe can recognize themselves in the flip-flops of Robert’s character. That strive for self-love and forgiveness in life truly makes every day an adventure of its own. Therefore, you may as well start packing your bags while watching our elected movie best for single travelers. 

9. Tomb Raider (2018) – Best for Avid Gamers 

Our next spotlight is stolen by another strong female lead, Alicia Vikander, who is the new Lara Croft.

Based on the popular video game series, this rebooted film sincerely outshines all of Angelina Jolie’s butt-kicking acts in the original version. Vikander’s fresh take on Miss Croft has us fully immersed in her perilous journey to a mythical island off Japan’s coast. There, she air-jumps and spin-punch several gang members on her quest to find her vanished father. 

The action-pack story is meant to especially entice video gamers who have grown up with the franchise. So, without hesitation, we award it one of the best island adventure movies for avid gamers, especially the gals. While males might be swoon by Croft’s younger casting, many women will surely leave the room ready to kick some ass. 

10. Jurassic Park (1993) – Best for all future generations 

We deliver our final roar on the list to Jurassic Park, the first (and only in many fans’ aching hearts).

Legendary director Steven Spielberg has laser-beamed the dinosaur toys that once stood on our windowsill and transported them to an island theme park overrun by these mega-sized prehistoric wonders.

If we could choose to be in such a world, many of us would risk our lives to tour alongside actors like Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neil through a herd of genetically-modified brontosauruses. But then, only to find out that the former tourist haven has become a man-eating hunting ground for velociraptors. 

This first film in the massive blockbuster franchise has nurtured the childhood innocence of millions of sci-fi fans.  Even today’s highly advanced CGI technology does not come remotely close to the timeless joy and nostalgic 90s movie effects of Jurassic Park. 

Therefore, we leave you with a universally-loved hit that claims the title as the best island adventure movie for all future generations to come.

(You might also be interested in reading about the Best Action-Packed Movies With an Island Setting)

And cut!

From vengeful pirate corpses to washed-up romance ashore a beach of ape-like footprints, we have curated the 10 best island adventure movies to add to your 2021 watch list. Whether you munch alone on your popcorn or with friends and families, you will find that some island-set stories are far from paradise. While others can be the adventure you are looking for.

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