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Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey
Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Nicole Kidmans Monterey memories

When the TV production team decided to move the setting of the story from Australia to the US, the search was on for the best location. Monterey, in California, fit the bill perfectly. Here are a few real-life places where several scenes were shot.

Fisherman’s Wharf

The historic Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey is where Jane, Madeline and Celeste meet for coffee at the fictional Blue Blues Café after dropping their kids off at school. From the 1800s till the 1960s, it was a thriving fisherman’s market, but today the wharf is a popular tourist destination with many shops and seafood restaurants, all perfect for taking in panoramic views of the bay.

“This location, the coffee shop, is where we would go and talk,” says Nicole Kidman about Blue Blues Café, which doesn’t exist in reality but was created in a studio. “The women that we portray had a lot of time on their hands, so we would go and sit there and talk. When the writer of the script, David E. Kelley, initially wrote the seven episodes, this is what he chose as the hub. This is the place where we would all meet and hang and be with each other.”

Big Fish Grill

There are plenty of real places to visit at the Fisherman’s Wharf, however. There is Big Fish Grill with a panoramic view of Monterey Harbor and a rooftop for sunset cocktails and dinner with impeccable views.

Big Fish Grill

101 Fisherman's Wharf #1, Monterey

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Paluca Trattoria

You can get more of the “Big Little Lies” vibe in Paluca Trattoria, which served as the inspiration for the set design of the fictional Blue Blues Café, where Jane, Madeline and Celeste commiserated over their personal dramas. In real life, the actresses also became friends and would go for dinner, when they had finished shooting.“We would be like, ‘Let’s go and have dinner’ and we would go and we have incredible dinners, where we would share stories about our lives and help each other. So we didn’t have to work hard on the friendships that you see onscreen.”

Paluca Trattoria

6D Old Fishermans Wharf, Monterey

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Beaches

Del Monte Beach

When Shailene Woodley’s character Jane goes for runs, it’s often on the sands of Del Monte Beach. The picturesque dunes and long stretches of sand made it an ideal spot to film some of the edgier and more intriguing Big Little Lies scenes.When shooting the series in Monterey, the beaches were among Nicole Kidman’s favorite locations.“The beaches were the best! I love going swimming. I love salt water and I just love getting in the water. I am not the girl that loves lying on the beach for two hours to get a tan. I cover up and look like a complete dork, but I love getting in the ocean.”

Del Monte Beach

Del Monte Ave, Monterey

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Pebble Beach

For many of the beach scenes the producers headed to Monterey’s Pebble Beach. The 24km strip of rocky coast is home to Monterey’s Lone Cypress, a natural local icon that is apparently one of the most photographed trees in the US.“To be able to shoot in Northern California with these incredible beaches was just amazing,” says Nicole Kidman. “Obviously, there were fantastic restaurants that we got to go out and visit in the evening, but the air quality and just being there close to the ocean was very relaxing.”You can stay at several luxurious locations at the Pebble Beach Resorts. If you play golf, Pebble Beach could be your dream location with eight private and public courses.

Pebble Beach

Del Monte Forest, California

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Other Monterey sights

Bixby Creek Bridge

The opening credits of Big Little Lies feature Celeste, Jane, Madeline, Renata and Bonnie driving their kids to school, intercut with sweeping views of Highway 1 and Bixty Bridge. The 80m-high bridge enjoys magnificent views over the Big Sur coast. Visitors can park in the pullout area and snap photos of the world famous bridge and the awe-inspiring landscape.“Our director Jean-Marc is the one who came up with that opening credit, where we are all driving on the beach,” says Kidman. “He brought in a lot of the music and he also changed the locations, so it became more cinematic. He is so cinematic, Jean-Marc, which I think has become apparent in the way that people have responded to the series. They have just eaten it up because it is so sumptuous.”

Bixby Creek Bridge

Bixby Bridge, Highway 1, Monterey

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Celeste and Terry’s Villa, Carmel Highlands

Nicole Kidman’s favorite location in Big Little Lies is Celeste Wright’s family villa, the only one of the four luxurious houses represented in the series that is actually located on the Monterey Peninsula. This house, built in 1988, is located in Carmel.“My particular house was just gorgeous,” says Kidman. “When we walked in there the first time we went, ‘Oh my gosh, who doesn’t want to live here?’”Alexander Skarsgaard plays the abusive husband Perry Wright and Kidman felt that the villa worked perfectly in a metaphorical way. The stunning house is located on top of a cliff with a view of the rugged coastline and sometimes overwhelmingly powerful ocean. Only the exterior and the bottom floor of the villa in Carmel are used in the series. The Wright’s bedroom, bathroom and massive walk-in closet were built in a studio. Thus some of the more violent scenes between Celeste and Perry were shot both on location and in a studio.

Celeste and Terry’s Villa, Carmel Highlands

40 Yankee Point Drive, Carmel

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Garrapata State Park

This is the location of that scary moment in Big Little Lies when Jane almost runs right off the cliff. The scenes of powerful crashing waves and misty shores were also filmed at Garrapata. The location appears again in the season finale.The west side of the state park and beach is open to the public and is a favorite hiking spot for locals, who enjoy the uncrowded and winding hiking trails that climb steeply up to ocean views before plunging into a redwood forest. For those who prefer a day on the beach, you can relax on the pristine sand, but beware of the powerful riptides.

Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park, Highway 1, Carmel

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Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove

Lovers Point Park is located at the foot of 17th Street in Monterey and is the setting for many key Big Little Lies scenes. It is very close to Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast. One heated scene takes place between Adam Scott and Jeffrey Nordling, where they discuss an issue pertaining to Reese Witherspoon’s character. Adam Scott who plays her current husband Ed and Jeffrey Nordling her estranged ex Gordon, have a hard time getting along. The characters Jane and Ziggy, played by Shailene Woodley and Iain Armitage, also have a picnic here. Lovers Point Beach is a very popular stretch of shoreline and is often used for local weddings.

Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove

631 Ocean View Blvd, Pacific Grove

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Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jane and her son Ziggy, played by Shailene Woodley and Iain Armitage, end up in front of a tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, when Jane wants to take Ziggy away from the drama of his classroom. Ziggy has been accused of bullying and abusing the little girl Amabella.The aquarium itself is located on the site of a former sardine cannery and offers visitors a close-up look at penguins, otters and plenty of other marine life. It’s home to more than 35,000 creatures representing more than 550 species.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

886 Cannery Row, Monterey

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