Posted by: sunnyharvy | March 7, 2015

The Inimitable Big Sur Coast

Often referred to as one of the most scenic drives in America, Route 1 through Big Sur did not disappoint. If you ever have the opportunity to drive this section, take your time and stop often. Spend at least three days between San Simeon and Carmel, if at all possible, a week would be even better!  I have traveled through a few times before, but until now I did not have enough time to truly savor the experience. This journey proved deeply satisfying.


“Travel the route that hugs the California coast, providing access to austere, windswept cypress trees, fog-shrouded cliffs and the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean. Views include rugged canyons, towering redwoods, sea lions, and other marine life,” says the American Byways website.

Our first stop, on another excellent recommendation from Marti and Peter, was at Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, just south of Carmel. Long considered the “crown jewel” of the California State Park system, it is a magnet for nature lovers the world around. Luckily we arrived early in the day as parking is quite limited. We snagged a spot in the lot at Whaler’s Cove where we enjoyed breakfast and lunch on either side of a gorgeous hike around the north shore of the park. Later we moved to a more central lot to hike along the south shore. When we departed mid-afternoon, there were dozens of cars parked along the highway outside the park entrance.


 Along the north shore hike.


Just a few sea lions basking in the sun along the south shore.


Originally built in 1851, this abalone fisherman’s cabin has been lovingly restored and serves as a small museum and info center near Whaler’s Cove.






A baby otter being groomed by her mother.

The weather turned a little damp, so we spent two nights camped out at Pfeiffer State Park where we managed to get in a couple of short hikes between rain showers. The forecast for the rest of the week predicted abundant sunshine and warmth. We have been incredibly fortunate this winter as the California coast seems to be enjoying the most pleasant weather in North America.


The one-lane road to Pfeiffer State Beach.


Thankfully not too hazardous the day we visited.





Purple sand… never seen that before!



Looking back from the beach.

To be continued…


  1. If you have never been, try to stop (and camp) at Montana de Oro (San Luis Obispo) area. Another ‘crown jewel’ of the CA state parks and one that few know about. Did you check out the elephant seals in San Simeon?

    • Thanks Karen. We stayed at Montana del Oro last year and loved it. Saw the elephant seals at San Simeon, but had a closer, almost too close, look at Drakes Beach at Point Reyes. We got there early while they were quite active. Unfortunately the sun was right behind them so photos were difficult.

  2. Purple sand … Huh. Big Island, Hawai’i, has both green and black sand beaches.

  3. Very beautiful! When compared to the weather we’ve had here, or even without the comparison, it looks like paradise. All my best to you and Al, Lois

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