The allure and intrigue of James Bond, the fictional British Secret Service Intelligence Officer created by Ian Fleming, have lasted 60+ years. This is due to the success of the books and all the other derivative products, including 25 Bond films, the latest ‘No Time To Die’ starring Daniel Craig. With code name 007, James Bond, who has a “license to kill” to complete any mission, has crisscrossed the globe, saving humanity from all types of evil, always acting smooth, suave, and sophisticated. But did you know that while the character is quintessentially British, Jamaica is the birthplace of James Bond 007? Below I provide insight.
James Bond Books by Ian Fleming
James Bond, a fictional MI6 Secret Agent, and his creator Ian Fleming, a British Naval Intelligence Officer during WWII, are inextricably linked to the Caribbean island of Jamaica. Fleming first visited Jamaica in 1943 while on a mission to investigate U-boat activities in the Caribbean. He fell in love with the island and decided right then and there that he would return and make it his home.
After leaving the military, Ian Fleming returned to Jamaica in 1946, purchasing 15 acres of land previously a donkey racetrack. Just 20 minutes from Ocho Rios, a popular resort town, the land overlooked a small cove in Oracabessa, and he built a three-bedroom villa on a cliff with a private beach at the bottom.
It was at this Jamaican home he named Goldeneye that Ian Fleming wrote his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Fleming started writing Casino Royale on February 17th, 1952, and it was published on April 13th, 1953.
With the success of Casino Royale, he then wrote and published another 13 books chronicling the adventures of James Bond 007. Written over 14 years during winters spent at Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s fourteen James Bond books in order of publication include:
- Casino Royale (1953)
- Live and Let Die (1954)
- Moonraker (1955)
- Diamonds Are Forever (1956)
- From Russia, with Love (1957)
- Doctor No (1958)
- Goldfinger (1959)
- For Your Eyes Only (1959)
- Thunderball (1961)
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1962)
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)
- You Only Live Twice (1964)
- The Man with the Golden Gun (1965)
- Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966)
Not only is Jamaica where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond books, but the island is prominently featured in several of his books including Live and Let Die (1954), Doctor No (1958), The Man with the Golden Gun (1965), and Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966). All fourteen James Bond books by Ian Fleming have been made into feature films starting with Dr. No, released in 1962.
It should be noted that after Ian Fleming died in 1964, with approval from his estate and publisher, over 30 additional James Bond books have been written by other authors, including Christopher Wood, Jonathan Cape, Raymond Benson, Anthony Horowitz, etc. The original fourteen, though, written by Ian Fleming solidify Jamaica as the undisputed birthplace of James Bond.
Fun Fact: Ian Fleming named his much-loved main character James Bond after American ornithologist and Caribbean birds expert James Bond, who wrote the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies, first published in 1936. Fleming, a keen bird watcher, wanted a name that was “as ordinary as possible,” and James Bond (now iconic) fit the bill.
Ian Fleming pays homage to the original James Bond by referencing his work in his Doctor No (1958) book, where he mentions a large ornithological sanctuary in The Bahamas. In the 2002 Bond film, Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan, who plays James Bond, glances through a copy of Birds of the West Indies in an early scene in Havana, Cuba. Also, in a promotional on-set photo, for the 2015 Bond film Spectre, there was a copy of Birds of the West Indies; however, this didn’t appear in the released version.
James Bond Movies Filmed in Jamaica
In the 1950s, Jamaica was known more for its agriculture, mainly sugar and banana products, than as a tourist attraction. As time went on, perhaps partly due to the popularity of Ian Flemings books and the James Bond films, more tourists became aware of Fleming’s paradise island. That said, three James Bond movies have scenes filmed in Jamaica. These include Dr. No (1962), Live And Let Die (1973), and No Time To Die (2021).
Dr. No film locations in Jamaica
Jamaica was prominently featured in the first James Bond movie Dr. No, filmed in 1961 and released on October 5th, 1962. Film locations in Jamaica for the Dr. No, which was the sixth James Book book, includes the capital city of Kingston and Crab Cay.
Well-known Kingston locations include Kings House, Jamaica’s governor-general home, and The Grand Port Royal Hotel. As for Crab Cay, since this was a fictional island off the coast, scenes were filmed at the Reynold Pier in Ocho Rios, part of the Ocho Rios Cruise ship facility. Also, the dry swamp at Falmouth in Trelawney was the film location for Crab Cay’s desolate, barren swamp scenes.
One of the most iconic Dr. No scenes filmed in Jamaica is when Honey Rider, played by Ursula Andress, walks out of the sea wearing a bikini and a blade at Laughing Waters Beach. Dunn’s River Falls, one of Jamaica’s more popular tourist attractions, was featured in the Dr. No film.
Live And Let Die film locations in Jamaica
Jamaica was again featured in the eighth James Bond movie Live and Let Die, which is based on the second book by Ian Fleming. Released on June 27th, 1973, Live and Let Die was filmed at several locations in Jamaica, including the grounds at Rosehall Great House, an 18th-century Georgian plantation house, now run as a historic house museum.
A couple of hotels in Jamaica were featured in Live and Let Die, including one of my favorites Half Moon Jamaica where James Bond bedded Rosie Carver in Bungalow 9, Room 52. Another Jamaican hotel briefly featured in Live and Let Die, and also Dr. No was Couples Sans Souci, formerly Sans Souci Hotel, in Ocho Rios. Roger Moore, who played James Bond, stayed at Couples Sans Souci while filming Live and Let Die, and his room is now the Roger Moore Suite (D-20).
Another Jamaican location featured in Live and Let Die film is Green Grotto Caves, a labyrinth of limestone caves located in Falmouth, between the resort towns of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Now a major tourist attraction, Green Grotto Caves were known as the Runaway Bay Caves during the 18th-century, as they were used for enslaved Africans to hide in before making a bid for freedom.
No Time To Die film locations in Jamaica
The third James Bond film to feature Jamaica is No Time To Die, the 25th in the series released on September 30th, 2021. We see James Bond returns to his birthplace after a life of active and deadly service. Attempting to enjoy a tranquil lifestyle, featured Jamaican locations in No Time To Die include spots near Port Antonio and Kingston Harbour. We see Bond relaxing at home in his picturesque beachfront villa, out and about at the local market, and even at a dancehall nightclub. Interestingly, Jamaica also doubled for Santiago, Cuba later in the movie.
Goldeneye in Jamaica
Goldeneye in Jamaica was built by Ian Fleming, who named the estate after a wartime mission he had worked on. Fleming spent many winters at Goldeneye in Jamaica, and it was here that he wrote all of his James Bond novels. It was also a place visited by an impressive cast of celebrities, including Errol Flynn, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, James Mason, and Laurence Olivier.
Goldeneye also has ties to Jamaica’s most famous export, Bob Marley, who nearly purchased the estate after Ian Fleming died. Instead, it was purchased in 1976 by Marley’s former manager Chris Blackwell. Blackwell, who founded the independent label Island Records in 1959, is credited with taking reggae music outside of the studios of Kingston and introducing the rest of the world to its captivating beats. He produced Bob Marley and the Wailers, and later Grace Jones and the Irish band U2.
Only Ian Fleming’s villa was built on the 15-acre Goldeneye estate that Chris Blackwell purchased in 1976. Since then, the estate has grown into a prime 52-acres. Located in the quiet, rural town of Oracabessa in Saint Mary Parish, the Goldeneye estate is now scattered with several villas alongside Ian Fleming’s original dwelling.
In his living room, visitors will see pictures of celebrities like Alec Guinness and former James Bond actor Sean Connery playing around in the pool. Ian Fleming’s desk, where many of the books were written, remains in the house along with some of his other belongings.
Outside sits the mango tree planted by another Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, the lime tree planted by Harrison Ford, and the royal palms planted by former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and his family. The restaurant overlooks the serene, crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea, painting a picture of the idyllic bliss that captured Fleming’s heart decades ago.
Goldeneye in Jamaica is now a luxurious boutique hotel, part of Chris Blackwell’s Island Outpost group. It warmly welcomes James Bond enthusiasts or curious visitors to stay for a night or two.
Top photo: Ian Flemings Goldeneye House in Oracabessa, Jamaica. Photo: ©TheFlemingVilla.com.
NOTE: Originally published December 18th, 2014, this post was updated September 2021.