The 'Big Little Lies' Guide to Monterey Bay
Although the novel was meant to take place in a fictional Australian town, when developing the show for American audiences, producers said Monterey Bay had the feel of everything they were looking for.
The town—which lies about 100 miles south of San Francisco—is home to a gorgeous coastline and many influential tech power players. Monterey Bay has both a mysterious and glamorous feel that makes it an ideal location for a show about an unknown murder where everybody in town is a suspect.
Although we don’t know yet who was murdered (or how), we know the whereabouts. From the beautiful shots of the drives into school to the beaches where something fishy happened, here are some of the stunning locations around Monterey Bay featured in "Big Little Lies."
Scenes from the first episode—when Jane, Madeline, and Celeste meet for a coffee after dropping their kids off at the first day of school—were shot at Fisherman’s Wharf.
The wharf was an active fisherman’s market up until the 1960s. But as commercial fishing in the area tapered off, the spot eventually became a tourist destination. Today it’s possible to sit down at one of the many seafood restaurants or shops and take in views of the bay.
Del Monte Beach
When the characters end up going for runs on the beach, it’s often on the sands of Del Monte. The beach is known among locals as a place to get away from the crowds—although it may not stay that way for much longer.
The beach’s picturesque sand dunes made it an ideal spot to film some of the edgier and more intriguing "Big Little Lies" scenes.
Bixby Creek Bridge
Those enamored by the series’ opening credits should schedule a drive across Bixby Creek Bridge. The concrete bridge is one of California’s most-photographed, and after viewing the Big Sur coast from the 260-foot-high vantage point, it’s easy to see why.
The bridge is so beloved there’s even a Death Cab For Cutie song about it and a replica appeared in Grand Theft Auto V.
Garrapata State Park
For those who prefer seaside hikes to a day on the beach, this unspoiled spot offers miles of winding hiking trails (and beautiful photo opps). The park is located further south on the coast than Monterey, but location scouts chose the rugged coast for its pristine sand and powerful riptides.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
In the show, Renata serves on the board of this treasured local aquarium. And although we have not yet seen the scene, according to the trailer and several teasers, Jane and Ziggy end up in front of a tank at the aquarium.
The aquarium itself is located on the site of a former sardine cannery and offers visitors close-up looks at penguins, otters, and plenty of other marine life.
California’s most famous drive winds up along the coast from Monterey down to Morro Bay. For those moments when the characters are highly stressed and go out for a drive (or at least just drive back and forth from the fictional Otter Bay School), the scenes were probably shot on this historic stretch of coastal highway.
Monterey City Hall
After filming, the crew left behind a present for Monterey at its city hall: a welcome sign.
A “Welcome to Monterey” sign currently sits outside the building, even though it didn’t have one until last year. The historic building, which is also sometimes referred to as Colton Hall, was built in the late 1840s and originally used as a school. Today the main floor of the building holds city offices while the second floor is a museum preserving the town’s history.
Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove
"Big Little Lies"is often sexy, but it’s not so often sweetly romantic. However one of the filming locations for the series (Lovers Point) is often used for local weddings.
It overlooks the Lovers Point State Marine Reserve and features a concrete pier, sandy beaches, and a very distinctive sprawling tree. Viewers can also spot the Point Pinos Lighthouse in certain shots, located at the end of Pacific Grove.
Scouting locations for the women’s homes covered a whole lot of distance. In fact, only Celeste’s home in Carmel Highlands is truly geographically correct. Renata and Madeleine’s homes are really in Malibu, while Jane’s smaller bungalow is actually in Pasadena.
Monterey Municipal Wharf
Sometimes referred to as “New Fisherman’s Wharf,” Monterey’s Municipal Wharf was constructed in 1926 for fishermen selling their catch. It’s the easternmost structure in Monterey Bay and today hosts the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club.
For more of the beach scenes, producers headed to Monterey’s Pebble Beach. The 17-mile strip of rocky coast is home to Monterey’s Lone Cypress, a natural local icon that has been called one of the most photographed trees in North America.
Unfortunately it was set on fire in 1974 and has since been held upright by cables.