Explore the Californian home of Big Little Lies – Monterey

The HBO drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman is set in a town on the stunning Pacific Coast

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California has rarely looked so gorgeous and so uninviting as it does in Big Little Lies.

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The scenery in the HBO show (Mondays, Sky Atlantic) is fabulous: panoramic drives along the dramatic Pacific Coast, jogs along pristine beaches, picture-perfect sunsets.

So why uninviting? Well, because the queen bees in Monterey – played by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon – aren’t as nice as they pretend to be.

Happily, the locals are much friendlier in real life and the scenery is even more awesome. That’s why Monterey has long been a popular stop on Californian road trips. (It also has literary credentials – John Steinbeck made his home here and immortalised the town in his novels East of Eden, Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat.)

So don’t let Kidman and Witherspoon’s characters’ machinations put you off. Here are seven must-see attractions you’ll spy in the show.  


1. Carmel Highlands

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Nicole Kidman’s character, Celeste, lives in exclusive Carmel Highlands, which is one of the most expensive places to buy a house in the USA and popular with celebrities. For a taste of the high life, visit the clifftop hotel Hyatt Carmel Highlands to experience breathtaking coastal views like you see in the show. Enjoy a coffee, cocktail or meal on the new 870-square-foot deck, which boasts a louvered roof and glass-panel walls overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Big Sur coast. The property is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

2. Lovers Point in Pacific Grove

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Locals can always be found lounging on the grass at Pacific Grove’s well-groomed 4.4-acre Lovers Point Park, which is the setting for several key scenes. Many visitors climb the rocks at the point it’s named after in order to get a spectacular view of Monterey Bay. For over 100 years, Lovers Point Beach has been Pacific Grove’s most popular stretch of shoreline. Surfers love its reliable waves, while kayakers find it a perfect launching spot. 

3. Bixby Bridge in Big Sur

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You’ll recognise this iconic Big Sur bridge on Highway 1 from the opening credits. The view as you drive across it is even better.

4. Old Fisherman’s Wharf  

This historic wharf is where the Jane meets Celeste and Madeline for that fateful coffee in the first episode (see main pic above), and where the latter’s husband works. Sea lions and otters can often be spied in the harbour, and you can embark on whale-watching, glass-bottomed boat or deep-sea fishing trips. Landlubbers can just enjoy the view from the many seafront restaurants.

5. Ocean View Boulevard

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They also shot several scenes on this aptly named boulevard near Point Pinos Lighthouse. It leads to another road with a view: Sunset Drive.

6. Garrapata State Park 

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A short drive away from Carmel is Garrapata State Park in Big Sur where you can hike along the coast on the west side of Highway 1. Trails lead to Garrapata Beach as well as a canyon of calla lilies! There is also the coastal trail with a scenic overlook. 

7. Monterey Bay Aquarium

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The non-profit Monterey Bay Aquarium also makes a cameo. It was also the inspiration for the Marine Life Institute in the Disney film Finding Dory.

For more information on Monterey, go to seemonterey.com and check out the Big Little Lies tour on the iTourMobile app


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