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South Seas Titles

Below is a list of famous and, perhaps, not so famous books and movies that are about, or have a backdrop of the South Seas. You will find some true gems!

Check back regularly for newly added titles. Jump down the page to see South Seas movie titles.

South Seas Books

Miss Ulysses from Puka-Puka: The Autobiography of a South Sea Trader's Daughter
By Florence Johnny Frisbie
Miss Ulysses of Puka-Puka, written by Johnny Frisbie, has been republished by Dockside Sailing Press. The book has been out of print for more than sixty years, and tells the incredible story of life on a remote coral atoll. With this new edition, the author added two new chapters and illustrated it with family photos and three maps. Miss Ulysses has been written in three languages (Puka-Pukan, Samoan, English), and was the first publication by a Pacific Island woman writer. The book tells her version of her life and travels with her family from isle to isle and through the atolls of the South Seas. Puke-Puka, some 1700 miles from Sydney, was an island of adventure to a child, and Johnny vividly gives her view of native life and customs. Voyages and journeys led to experiences of delight and danger as well. The family survived a tropical storm, lived as beachcombers on a desert island, visited a leper colony, and saw many more and less familiar South Sea spots. It is a must read for any fan of South Seas adventures. See more on Amazon ...



Kon Tiki
By Thor Heyerdahl
In 1947 Thor Heyerdahl, an anthropologist from Norway, gained worldwide fame when he crossed the Pacific Ocean on a primitive balsawood raft to prove his theory that South Americans could have originally populated Polynesia. The book recounts his epic voyage with his small crew, as they navigated with just the sun, stars, currents and winds as their guides. They maneuvered the raft with only the sail, paddles and a temperamental steering oar as they beat against waves that in stormy conditions towered higher than their masts. Although Heyredahl’s theory was possible, he could not prove that it had actually occurred, and most scholars believe that Polynesians arrived from Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, it is truly an exceptional story, as the crew covered 4300 nautical miles in 101 days and experienced many adventures on the unpredictable ocean. See more on Amazon ...



The Cruise of the Snark
By Jack London
The story chronicles London's sailing adventure in 1907 across the South Pacific Ocean in his ketch, The Snark. He sailed out of San Francisco Bay on April 23, 1907. His wife, Charmain, and a small crew accompany him on the voyage. The crew visits some of the most exotic locations in the Pacific Islands, and it is London's first-person accounts and photographs that provide some wonderful insight into these remote places at the beginning of the 20th century. The cruise was eventually cut short due to problems with the boat, but more importantly, because of ill health forced London to sail commercially to Sydney, Australia for treatment of a skin problem. Nevertheless, the experiences aboard The Snark were invaluable to the literary future of both London and his wife, as it produced some of the finest books, short stories, and articles regarding the culture of the South Seas. See more on Amazon ...



Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before
By Tony Horwitz
Author, Tony Horwitz, takes readers on an adventurous, yet informative, journey across hemispheres and centuries to recapture the Captain's adventures and explore his embattled legacy in today's Pacific Islands. Horwitz begins his re-creation of Cook's journeys by crewing on a replica of Cook's first ship, Endeavour. He creates a brilliant portrait of Cook- an impoverished farm boy who became the greatest navigator in British history and forever changed the lands he touched. Horwitz's account is poignant and probing, as he investigates how the places Cook visited have changed. He catalogs the effects that Western civilization has had on the indigenous peoples. Blue Latitudes is a mixture of first-person journalism with a strong narrative technique and history. You won't be able to put the book down for even a second! A Los Angeles Times Review stated, "A vivid narrative- part history, part travelogue -- and mostly just great fun." See more on Amazon ...



Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific
By Paul Theroux
It is an account of a trip taken through the Pacific Islands shortly after the break-up of his first marriage in the early 1990's. Theroux ventures to the South Pacific, exploring fifty-one islands by a collapsible kayak. He begins his adventure in New Zealand's rain forests and ultimately reaches the shores thousands of miles away in Hawaii. Theroux explores isolated atolls, but only sometimes does he find the true paradise that he was expecting. Be forewarned, at times the tone of the book can be a negative, cranky, but honest view of Oceania, as he observes the issues that plague the region. In fact, some of these problems still exist today. Nevertheless, Theroux pays attention to cultural moods and intricacies, and is a terrific storyteller with a keen eye for the absurd. The Happy Isles of Oceania is a combination of travelogue and personal reflection with witty observations that takes the reader to little-known places where time seems to have stood still. See more on Amazon ...



An Island to Oneself: The Story of Six Years on a Desert Island
By Tom Neale
This is the autobiographical account of Tom Neale who lived alone on the desert island of Suwarrow (Suvarov) in the Cook Islands. In the 1940s Neale was a storekeeping working in many small shops throughout the Cook Islands. While working in Rarotonga he met the author, Robert Dean Frisbie, and was fascinated by his tales of the Suwarrow atoll where Frisbie lived for a short time. Neale, therefore, desired to live alone as long as possible on this uninhabited speck of land in the mighty Pacific Ocean. For several years he made his plans until, finally, in 1952 he booked passage on a ship that would be passing close to Suwarrow. An Island to Oneself is truly an unforgettable story of the author's self-imposed exile from society on a remote Pacific atoll and his struggles to survive and make peace with his austere surroundings. See more on Amazon ...



Rain and Other South Seas Stories
By W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham led many lives, including that of a doctor in London's slums, a successful playwright and novelist, an agent for British Intelligence during World War I, and a world traveler. In 1917, he took the first of many voyages to the Pacific Islands and the Far East, where his keen sense of observation found inspiration for some of his finest writing. "Rain" is, perhaps, one of his most famous stories that tell the story about a clash between a missionary and a prostitute during a few steamy days in Samoa. Maugham wrote many of his South Seas stories during the early part of the 20th Century that captures the beauty and feelings of the South Pacific, especially at the time of British Colonization. In fact, many of these stories were set in Samoa. "Rain" would eventually be adapted for the stage and filmed on three separate occasions. Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, and Rita Hayworth have all portrayed the leading character on film. See more on Amazon ...



Solomon Time: An Unlikely Quest in the South Pacific
By Will Randall
Solomon Time recounts the experiences of author, Will Randall, a young English schoolmaster, who journeys to Mendali, Solomon Islands to devise a way for the natives to support themselves. If successful, they might avoid poverty, build a new school, and even fend off the greedy developers circling their peaceful waters. Menadali is a fishing village so remote it can only be reached by a motorized canoe. The author's ironic sense of humor makes the book a funny and enjoyable read. At times the story is moving and poignant. However, perhaps most importantly, it is an accidental adventure of a naïve volunteer that takes the reader to one of the most unusual and captivating places on earth. Publishers Weekly Review comments in 2003: "Randall's account is great fun, perfect for, as the dedication suggests, anyone who thinks it might be time for a change." See more on Amazon ...



Typee
By Herman Melville
Although published in 1846, Typee continues to influence many writers and adventurers who write about or want to travel to the Pacific Islands. The book was originally submitted to Harper & Brothers in New York, but was rejected on the grounds that it was too fantastic to be true. Indeed, it is a semi-autobiographical account of life in the Marquesas Islands. Melville recounts his experiences after having jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands in 1842, and becoming a captive of a cannibal island. It was an immediate success in America and England, and was Melville's most popular work during his lifetime. The story is a blend of personal experience and the narratives of explorers and missionaries. See more on Amazon ...



Return to Paradise
By James A. Michener
Return to Paradise was originally published in 1950 and was a follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Tales of the South Pacific. In this collection of short stories Michener revisits the Pacific Islands and its cultures by exploring these enchanting islands through adventure, charm and local color. In fact, The New York Times reviewed it stating, "This is a book that should be read by everyone. . . . All who have seen the South Pacific will find on every page the odors of frangipani, copra, blood, and beer." Within this collection of the stories, the narrative, "Mr. Morgan," inspired the 1953 movie, Return to Paradise, starring Gary Cooper and Roberta Haynes. Another title, "Until They Sail," was also made into a movie starring Paul Newman and Jean Simmons in 1957. See more on Amazon ...



Tales of the South Pacific
By James A. Michener
This is a book of short stories about World War II and published in 1947. The stories were based on observations and anecdotes that Michener collected while he was stationed as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands (now Vanuatu). The stories chronologically take place around the Coral Sea and the Solomon Islands beginning in 1942 and ending in 1944. Additionally, a couple of the stories in the book were the inspiration behind the adaptation of the extremely popular and successful musical play, South Pacific, which opened on Broadway on April 7, 1949. Tales of the South Pacific was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948. See more on Amazon ...



The Bounty Trilogy
By Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
A true classic! It is one of the best and. perhaps, most famous tale from the South Seas. It is the thrilling account of the eventful, and tragic voyage of His Majesty's Ship Bounty in 1788-1789, and the events that occur after Fletcher Christian and his men mutiny against Captain Bligh. The trilogy is divided among three stories, Mutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairn's Island. The three stories have it all: adventure, romance, tragedy, and success. The Trilogy was first published in 1936. See more on Amazon ...



The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
By Caroline Alexender
Surely this exhaustingly-researched, enthralling and enthusiastically-written tome is the last word on the most famous of all seafaring mutinies, that of shipmate Fletcher Christian and against Lieutenant Bligh on the Bounty. More than 200 years have gone by since the ship left England after dreadful weather kept it harbored for months, on its mission to transport breadfruit from Tahiti to the West Indies. The mutiny in Tahiti left the mutineers scattered about the paradisiacal islands and found Bligh and 18 of his loyal crew members set adrift in a 23-foot open boat. Bligh, who'd served as Capt. James Cook's sailing master, fantastically maneuvered the crew on a 48-day, 3,600-mile journey to safety. See more on Amazon ...



After the Bounty: A Sailor's Account of the Mutiny, and Life in the South Seas
By Donald Maxton
In 1787, the Royal Navy ship H.M.S. Bounty, captained by William Bligh, set sail for Tahiti in search of breadfruit plants. Soon after leaving Tahiti, Master's Mate Fletcher Christian led a successful revolt, setting Bligh and eighteen of his men adrift. In his journal, fellow mutineer James Morrison recounts the Bounty's voyage from his perspective as the boatswain's mate, placing considerable blame for the mutiny on Bligh's irascible personality and style of command. This event, however, simply introduces Morrison's remarkable journey through the South Seas. See more on Amazon ...

South Seas Movies

Kon Tiki (2012)
Kon Tiki is a Norwegian film that tells the story of anthropologist and explorer, Thor Heyerdal's, and his epic 4,300-nautical mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in 1947 to prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. It stars Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen as Thor Heyerdahl and is directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. It was the highest-grossing film of 2012 in Norway, and the country's most expensive production to date. The film was also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 75th Golden Globe Award, and the 85th Academy Awards. See more on Amazon ...



Sione's Wedding (Samoan Wedding) (2006)
Arguably, Sione's Wedding (marketed as Samoan Wedding outside of New Zealand) is one of the funniest movies to come from New Zealand. The story takes place in Auckland, New Zealand within the Samoan community where Sione is about to get married. However, he knows that when his brother and his friends show up chaos will quickly follow. In fact, the four friends get banned from Sione's wedding unless they can prove themselves as mature individuals by getting and keeping girlfriends. And not just any dates, real girlfriends, someone they've made a commitment to. They have one month to do this. Sione's Wedding is a hilarious and interesting look at contemporary times in the Auckland Pacific Islander community. They also made a sequel to the movie titled, Sione's 2: Unfinished Business that was released in 2012. See more on Amazon ...



Rapa Nui (1994)
Rapa Nui is a historical melodrama set against the spectacular natural scenery of Easter Island's mysterious stone monoliths. The plot revolves around a young man from the ruling class who has fallen in love with a girl from the working class. He goes to the chief for permission to marry her which is granted on two conditions: 1) He must win the annual competition among the young men of the island; 2) She must spend six months locked in the darkness of the Cave of the White Virgin. Not many stories are set on Eastern Island. Thus, the film provides a wonderful insight on pre-colonial life on the island that captures the atmosphere, and the villager's way of life. In fact, the film shows the entire process of the carving and transportation of its famous statues known as the moai. See more on Amazon ...



The Other Side of Heaven (2001)
Based on John Groberg's memoirs, this is the story of a young man who served as a missionary in the remote Tongan islands in the 1950s. Groberg arrives in Tonga and is quickly immersed in the native culture, and strives to teach the Tongans about the teachings of the Latter-Day Saints while trying to respect their cultural traditions and face the joys and struggles of primitive life in the South Pacific alongside them. The film is definitely a coming-of-age story that has a distinct "stranger in a strange land" feel. It is filled with adventure, breathtaking scenery and humor. This epic adventure contains the acting talents of Christopher Gorham, Anne Hathaway, and Joe Folau, and was produced by Gerald R. Molen who won an Academy Award for his work on the movie, Schindler's List. See more on Amazon ...



Whale Rider (2002)
This fabulous movie was produced in New Zealand and is based on the novel of the same name by Witi Ihimaera. The film's plot follows the story of Paikea Apirana ("Pai"), a 12-year-old girl who is the only living child in the line of the tribe's chiefly succession following the death of her twin brother and mother when she was born. By tradition, the leader should be the first-born son of the direct patrilineal descendant of Paikea, the Whale Rider, who rode on top of a whale from Hawaiki. However, Pai is female and technically cannot inherit the leadership. The film received critical acclaim upon its release. At age 13, Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Whale Rider is the soundtrack album to the film by Australian singer/musician, Lisa Gerrard. See more on Amazon ...



Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton
The highlight of Mutiny on the Bounty is undoubtedly Charles Laughton's bracingly evil performance as Captain Bligh, a man so mean that he insists on having a dead sailor flogged. Bligh pushes his men beyond physical endurance, slashes their rations for his own profit, and drastically cuts down their frolicking time with scantily clad Tahitians. Finally, the moment everyone has been waiting for arrives: first mate Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) hits his limit and all hell breaks loose. Gable holds doggedly onto his American accent through the entire movie, but in a way it makes Christian come off as a Regular Guy in opposition to Bligh's institutionalized cruelty. Once you get past the hurdle of his diphthongs, Gable makes an excellent Fletcher Christian--strong, fair, and noble, and he effectively conveys the struggle of a man who loathes the idea of mutiny but can't stand see his men mistreated. See more on Amazon ...



Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)
starring Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, and Richard Harris
Based on the classic novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, this magnificently-photographed three-hour tour charts the tortuous and tragic course of the Bounty, which, in 1787, sailed from England to Tahiti on a "grocer's errand" to transplant breadfruit plants in Jamaica. As the voyage progresses, tensions mount between the heartless disciplinarian Captain Bligh (a commanding Trevor Howard) and his chief officer, Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando), who does not subscribe to Bligh's philosophy that cruelty with cause is not cruelty. Richard Harris costars as John Mills, an abused crewmember who plants the seeds of treason against Bligh. Mutiny on the Bounty is a see-worthy saga that boasts a provocative Brando performance. See more on Amazon ...



The Bounty (1984)
starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins
Oscar winners Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson lead a stellar cast that includes Sir Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson in this action-packed adventure bursting with sensational battles, raging storms, and an intensity as powerful as the mighty sea itself! Bristling with commanding performances, blazing dialogue and "superb action scenes", this "spectacular movie" is "everything a high-adventure fan could want"! Hopkins delivers "a brilliant portrayal" as William Bligh, a real-life sea captain who, in 1787, steered The Bounty on a 27,000-mile voyage into danger, chaos and madness. After 31 days of battling severe sea squalls and Bligh's ever-increasing cruelty, the weary crew is relieved to finally land on a remote island. See more on Amazon ...