"Secluded" beaches aren't my thing, because that descriptor almost certainly means it won't be easy to score a mai-tai and tell the waiter to "keep 'em coming." But in The Shallows, seclusion is exactly what Blake Lively's character Nancy Adams is looking for. Following a major loss, the medical student and surfer heads off to a "secret" Mexican beach known only as "Paradise" to have some alone time. Whether or not she finds paradise is questionable, since she definitely finds a great white shark that would love to have her for dinner. The film gets its title from the shallow waters Nancy is trapped in while she's stalked by her prey. I personally wouldn't want to follow in Nancy's footsteps, but could you if you wanted to? Where does The Shallows take place?
In this clip from the film, Nancy takes a ride to this secret beach with a local. He tells her that "not too many gringos" have found their way to this location. They drive down a path surrounded by trees and greenery before the sea and sky explode in front of them. It certainly looks like paradise, with turquoise water lapping against white sand and green cliffs in the distance.
Nancy's secret beach is said to be in view of an island shaped like a pregnant woman. That details suggests that the Shallows location may be inspired in some part by Los Coronados Islands off the coast of San Diego, California. According to the San Diego Tribune, those islands (which are a part of Mexico) are often obscured by mist, even though they should be visible from the shore. “Most people in San Diego have never heard about these islands,” sea Captain Ben Griffith told the paper. "They have never been publicized very well.” The article goes on to describe several mysterious occurrences from throughout the Coronados' history, including shipwrecks, smugglers, and Prohibition-era rum-running. If you visit the Coronados, it's more likely that you'll see a gray whale than a great white shark. (If you're lucky, anyway.) The Baja California islands are on the whales' migratory route.
The movie's filming location doesn't offer much in the way of clues as to where the action of The Shallows is supposed to have happened. Blake Lively, the rest of the film's small cast, and the crew filmed in Australia, not Mexico. In August of last year, Variety reported that some of the film would be shot in the Australian state of Queensland. "I’m very pleased they’ve chosen Queensland, where they will have the opportunity to make the most of our world-class facilities including the purpose built water tank, which is the largest in Australia, and our world-class crews and cast,” Annastacia Palaszczuk, the state's premier, said in a statement.
E! Online spotted Lively on set that November. She was shooting scenes on Lord Howe Island in New South Wales, Australia, which borders Queensland. According to E!, only 800 permanent residents live on Lord Howe and "there is no motorized transportation on the island." So secret beaches are real.
Most likely, the "secret beach" that Nancy seeks out in The Shallows is a fictional place. But it might be based in part on some real islands shrouded in mystery. And it was certainly filmed in a different kind of paradise.
Images: Columbia Pictures; Giphy