Where Was the Hit Romantic Comedy Film "Ticket to Paradise" Filmed? Not in Paradise...But the Next Best Thing

The lighthearted romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise has been a global hit since its release in late 2022. With A-list stars Julia Roberts and George Clooney headlining the film, audiences were drawn to the tropical destination and the playful storyline following a divorced couple who team up to try to stop their daughter from making the same mistake they once made.

But here’s the paradise paradox – while the movie is set in the lush island locale of Bali, Indonesia, it was actually filmed farther away in the beaches and islands of Queensland, Australia.

In this article, we’ll uncover the specific filming sites used in Australia and how the production team was able to transform the locale into a believable Balinese paradise backdrop. From the picturesque Whitsunday Islands to Tamborine Mountain rainforest, read on for a behind-the-scenes look at where Julia Roberts, George Clooney and the rest of the Ticket to Paradise cast and crew brought this romantic comedy to life.

Overview of the Hit Movie Ticket to Paradise

Ticket to Paradise was directed by Ol Parker based on a screenplay written by Parker and Daniel Pipski. It was released in theaters in October 2022 and stars Julia Roberts and George Clooney as Georgia and David Cotton, a long-divorced couple who reunite in Bali to try to stop their lovesick daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) from hastily marrying a Balinese seaweed farmer she just met on vacation.

What ensues is a comedy of errors as Georgia and David quickly realize Lily is determined to go through with the wedding. They then hatch various schemes to sabotage the nuptials, remembering all too well their own ill-fated young marriage many years ago. But amidst all the tropical misadventures and forced bonding time, sparks just might begin to fly again between the former flames as well.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the movie was unable to actually film in Indonesia as originally planned. Alternate tropical destinations with white sand beaches and bright blue waters were scouted, landing the production in Queensland, Australia in late 2021.

Why Queensland, Australia Became the Backdrop Instead of Bali

The filmmakers behind Ticket to Paradise had hoped to shoot in Bali, Indonesia to authentically capture the island paradise backdrop central to the movie’s plot. However, when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made filming there infeasible, the team got creative in scouting alternate locations that could believably stand in for Bali.

Their search led them just across the Coral Sea to the Australian state of Queensland. Boasting over 1,800 miles of coastline dotted with tropical islands, Queensland provided a ready-made double for Bali.

Specifically, production set up shop on some of the scenic Whitsunday Islands offshore in the Great Barrier Reef as well as on the Gold Coast. Additional shooting also took place further inland in the rainforests around Tamborine Mountain.

Beyond the geographic similarities, Queensland offered key practical advantages – it was close to the home base of Australia-based director Ol Parker and presented a COVID-safe filming environment with strict protocols in place. The stars were sold as well. As George Clooney told Variety:

“I hadn’t really done a romantic comedy since One Fine Day. I haven’t succeeded like Julia has succeeded in that forum. But I read it and thought, ‘Well, if Jules is up for it, I think this would be fun.'”

So Queensland it was! Through careful set design and cinematography, the crew was able to transform the region into a Balinese paradise.

Transporting Viewers to Paradise in the Whitsunday Islands

The natural beauty of the Whitsunday Islands along the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland made it an ideal primary filming location to substitute for beachside Bali. Across these 74 islands, the sparkling Coral Sea, whispered waves along white sand beaches, and lush green interiors set the scene for paradise.

Specific spots around the islands where Ticket to Paradise setup for filming included:

Palm Bay Resort on Long Island – The Long Island hideaway stood in for the Balinese seaweed farm where daughter Lily goes to work each day and eventually falls for local farmer Gede. Scenes of the couple planting and tending to seaweed crops emerge from this lush island locale.

Haslewood Island’s Katie’s Cove – The remote privacy of this northern beach on Haslewood Island lent itself perfectly to early scenes after Lily’s parents arrive in “Bali” to meet up with their daughter. Production designer Alice Normington told Condé Nast Traveller they leaned into the natural sights: “You’ve got the beach and the water and suddenly you’re in paradise.”

Hamilton Island Backdrops – As the Whitsunday’s most developed island, Hamilton Island delivered resort settings and amenities critical for filming. Scenes at the Bougainvillea Pool, wedding processions along the coastline, and more unfold across various spots on Hamilton. The luxury Qualia resort on the northern tip also served as the production base and accommodation for some crew.

And that’s just a sample of the islands used! Neighboring Haslewood offered additional beaches, while theTangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island provided the landscape for the infamous dolphin scene.

Through careful camera work, set design transformations and a bit of movie magic, the Whitsundays were ingeniously adapted to reflect the vibrant spirit of Bali.

Moreton Island’s Natural Landscapes Make Picturesque Scenes

In addition to the Whitsunday Islands, Moreton Island just offshore from Brisbane offered diverse scenery for capturing integral story points. As Queensland’s third largest sand island, Moreton mixes beaches with bushland, freshwater lakes, and towering sand dunes across its 150-square-mile expanse.

Key moments filmed on Moreton Island include:

Tangalooma Island Resort – The island’s largest resort appeared during emotional sequences towards the end of the film when tensions between parents and daughter finally ease. Its serene beachfront location overlooking the Coral Sea added to the poignancy.

Lucinda Bay – It’s here audiences burst out laughing as George Clooney’s character gets a little too close with a dolphin while out snorkeling, only to be bitten and dragged to shore! Moreton Island is home to a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins, making Lucinda Bay a perfect and picturesque spot for showcasing them.

Desert-Like Landscapes – Inland areas almost resembling deserts or dunes arose at times in the film to add diversity from the beaches, contrasting with Bali’s inland tropical forests and rice paddies.

No detail seemed overlooked in scouting Queensland places that could believably reflect this Indonesian island on camera for viewers.

Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Brings the Tropics

Even scenes set in Bali’s lush inland tropical forests managed to come to life through careful filming at Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast Hinterland region. Tamborine Mountain rises nearly half a mile, its misty emerald rainforest bringing a true tropical feel reminiscent of Bali’s jungles.

It’s here during mid-film that tensions between parents Julia Roberts and George Clooney and their daughter reach new heights when hijinks lead to discoveries of sabotage plans. Interiors flooded with tropical plants, sunlight filtering through the canopy, and babbling brooks transport viewers to paradise. The Curtis Falls swimming hole even makes an appearance during a tranquil interlude.

Beyond the rainforest, other quick Gold Coast scenes emerge – a soccer match on Miami Beach pans out thanks to some strategic set design and filming choices to mimic Balinese shores.

Through creative cinematography and imagery, the Gold Coast surroundings ultimately packaged as the perfect backdrop for Ticket to Paradise’s middle act conflict and turmoil…even if visually still looking like paradise!

Pulling Back the Curtain on Movie Magic Illusions

Obviously, a huge amount of coordination, talent and movie magic went into transforming the very “un-Bali” landscapes of Queensland into a believable cinematic Balinese paradise. Long-time location scout and production manager Emma Pill explained to Condé Nast Traveller just how intricate this process was:

“It was really quite a complex process. It can never quite be Bali, but for our intents and purposes it’s as close to Bali as we can make it.”

Beyond set design illusions fostering tropical island vibes, key factors included:

  • Casting Balinese locals – Numerous supporting roles went to Balinese expats and descendants now living in Australia, like Balinese-Australian actor Maxime Bouttier playing the groom Gede. Their knowledge, expertise and faces lent authenticity.
  • Learning from Balinese team members – Cultural consultant Agung Pindha provided critical direction on traditions, rituals and more from his Bali upbringing to ensure respectful representation.
  • CGI Enhancements – As needed, computer-generated imagery blended in to polish scenes, create expansive resorts from small lodges or make beaches seem more vividly coastal.
  • Strategic filming angles – Clever cinematography captured what was needed while avoiding giveaways in the landscape that this wasn’t actually Bali. You’ll notice few wide landscape pans revealing anything uniquely coastal Australia!

Obviously the illusion worked judging by the film’s success and reception! Queensland’s beautiful beaches and rainforests make turns across the screen as the quintessential backdrops for a modern romantic comedy.

Access the Filming Locations By Hopping Island to Island

Part of the appeal in a movie like Ticket to Paradise set in a tropical locale is that it likely inspires future travel dreams for viewers.

Luckily, many of the key Queensland filming destinations from Palm Bay Resort to Hamilton Island’s Qualia and Tangalooma Island Resort welcome resort guests. You can easily book a room for a future stay, or even splurge on luxury accommodation akin to Julia Roberts and George Clooney’s trailers while filming!

Day trips to beaches and island hopping adventures are also popular ways to sample the region’s beauty. Tour companies like Whitsunday Paradise Explorer offer custom group tours to various filming locations by boat, seaplane or helicopter.

For the full island experience, many choose to charter boats. With a bareboat rental requiring no formal boating license or experience, you cruise at your own pace exploring whatever coves or corners of the Whitsundays strike your fancy. Overnight anchoring then allows you to soak up the island lifestyle.

No matter how you access them, Queensland’s stunning landscapes are the real hidden stars in bringing Ticket to Paradise’s tropical paradise setting to life.

Lasting Tourism Benefits From Spotlighting Paradise

Beyond showcasing beautiful backdrops, the choice to film Ticket to Paradise on location in Queensland has provided a boost to the region through increased tourism and travel.

International productions spent roughly $465 million filming across Queensland in 2021 alone as Australia has become a popular substitute shooting locale given fewer pandemic restrictions than other countries. Julia Roberts and George Clooney calling Queensland home for several months only heightened attention.

Tourism Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington told MediaWeek the visibility offers invaluable exposure: “With two of the world’s biggest stars headlining the movie, we anticipate Ticket To Paradise will inspire future holidays in Queensland as viewers fall in love with the stunning backdrops.”

From resort bookings on Long Island to tours of filming sites, Queensland anticipates ongoing tourism returns from becoming the fictional set of Ticket to Paradise. No doubt due to the beautiful cinematic illusion, many viewers around the globe want to now experience this paradise for themselves!

Conclusion: Paradise Found in Queensland Thanks to Creative Filming & Scene Design

Ticket to Paradise viewers walking away feeling they just saw an authentic Bali backdrop is a testament to the excellent filming effort in Queensland. The region subbed seamlessly for Indonesia through careful on-location set design, strategic filming decisions and a little movie magic.

If you watch scenes from Katie’s Cove on Haslewood Island to the oceanside resort where George Clooney and Julia Roberts’ characters stayed, you’d swear it was an upscale coastal Indonesian hotel! The reality – it was actually primarily the Long Island Palm Bay Resort, blended with the Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island.

Similar clever cinematography turns the Gold Coast into credible jungle while Moreton Island’s beaches replacement Bali’s coastline. Local Queensland faces and expertise strengthen the illusion that we’re immersed in Indonesia.

At the film’s heart remains a light, fun romantic comedy. But the backdrop scenery clearly matters in transporting viewers to an aspirational tropical paradise. On that front, Queensland over-delivered.

So next time you watch Ticket to Paradise, pay closer attention to the paradise backdrop itself. Knowing you’re actually seeing beautiful Australian beaches, islands and rainforests might have you exploring Queensland travel options sooner than Bali getaways!

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