Continuing up highway one from Santa Barbara takes you on one of the most iconic drives in the USA, the Big Sur. It’s where the highway turns from a 60mph road to one where you average 20 – 30, the road narrows, winds, twist and most importantly offers breathtaking views at every turn.
Before Big Sur though, we headed out of Santa Barbara to Pismo Beach, a small resort town which very much reminded us of Brighton. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the look that reminded us – it’s starting to get cold! We surfed again but this time going without wetsuits was out of the question, and the surf was a little more difficult. We think we might wait until warmer waters again, makes falling in a lot less painful! We treated ourselves to the best cinnamon roll we’ve had on Pismo Beach though, which made it all better!
We spent two nights at a quiet trailhead. Whilst better than beside the highway it was a little out of town, as places to sleep were proving harder to come by. Luckily we were treated to a nice spot the following evening. We headed out of town heading towards a camp we’d found out about right before the National Park coastline. We’d arrived a little late so most of the main spots were taken, so we just pulled in at the top of the first hill and were treated to one of the prettiest sunsets we’d ever seen! It was a gorgeous place to stay. The next day we decided to go through the Big Sur all at once, and cram it all into one day. Unfortunately the whole coastline is littered with state parks & beaches, all of which are $10 to go and see. To put it into perspective, the annual American National Parks pass is $80 for a year, for access to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon etc. For just the STATE pass for California it’s almost $200!
Still, we were happy to pay for the first park, LimeKiln which had a brilliant hike to waterfalls and old LimeKilns which were used to export lime years ago (not sure when!). We had the impression we’d spend all day there but actually were done by midday so carried on up the coast. Most of the spots we could park on the Highway and walk down to the attraction to save the fee.
The next stop was Mcway Falls which is the iconic photo of a waterfall falling right into the Pacific Ocean. It was a definite poster photo moment! Then we stopped at Henry Miller library, which was far too edgy for us so we left pretty quickly. Next we headed to partington cove for a short hike down to some beautiful coves, and a connecting tunnel which had been blown out just for access to the second, which had some of the bluest ocean we’d seen as well. Finally we stopped at Elephant Seal vista point, to see huge elephant seals – something we didn’t expect to see so close!
We then headed to Carmel to spend the night. Carmel is a gorgeous little tourist town, but unfortunately places to stay are limited to we did stay in a Safeway car park… hardly glorious but definitely functional! The next day we checked out Monterey bay, with a lovely seafront pier and even stopped off at an English Pub for a pint.Next we’re heading to Santa Cruz, and then San Francisco where we managed to pick up some last minute Alcatraz tickets!