Highway 1 and Big Sur

Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1 winds down the California coast from Monterey/Carmel to San Simeon. We drove about halfway down to see the Big Sur area.

Highway 1 Big Sur

It’s a fun road, with steep hills on one side, and cliffs falling to the ocean on the other.

Highway 1, Big Sur, California

Highway 1, Big Sur, California

There are plenty of pull-outs along the road to take in the views. Bixby Bridge is a popular stop.

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, there’s a short walk from the parking area to a pretty amazing 80ft tidefall, McWay Falls. (What’s a tidefall? It’s a waterfall that ends at the sea!)

Wait for it…

McWay Falls, Big Sur California

…ta-da!!!

McWay Falls, Big Sur California

Even though the beach is off limits, a few surfers swam up through the cove while we were there.

Surfers at McWay Falls, Big Sur

Surfers at McWay Falls, Big Sur

Our last stop of the day was Garrapata State Park. Just off Highway 1 is a beautiful trail that hugs the coastline. It was a bit windy, but a great place to catch the (very cloudy) sunset.

Garrapata State Park, Big Sur

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Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Our Airbnb host recommended Point Lobos, and it did not disappoint. We really enjoyed a late afternoon walk along the coastal trails.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

There were lots of cool coves and inlets along the path. High tide came in while we were walking, and caused some big surges against the cliffs. If my catchphrase in Wyoming was “hey bear!”, here it’s “never turn your back on the ocean!”

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

China Cove and some other areas were closed to protect the sea lions and harbor seals.

The Cypress Grove has neat trees that are all gnarly and twisted. We saw a group of deer right next to the trail!

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

We ended the day with a trail that led to Bird Rock and watched pelicans fly across the sunset. If you are in the Monterey area, definitely take a trip to Point Lobos!

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Whale Watching in Monterey Bay

In elementary school I did The Voyage of the Mimi program, kick-starting a lifelong love of whales and sea shanties.

Whale watching in Monterey Bay

In middle school I bought a kit to adopt a whale, and her name was Buckshot. (Thanks for taking me to Cape Cod, Auntie N and Uncle N!) I still have the photo of her tail and fluke patterns, you know, so I’d recognize her when out on the high seas.

Whale watching in Monterey Bay

Whale watching in Monterey Bay

All this to say, I have been super excited about living near the ocean this month and the opportunity to see some whales! We took a morning cruise on the Princess Monterey and saw two humpback whales swimming together. It was pretty amazing.

On the way back to the wharf, we passed by a group of sea lions lounging on a buoy, and then a whole jetty full of them! The ones swimming around with their fins up are regulating their temperatures, not pretending to be sharks.

Sea lions in Monterey Bay

Sea lions in Monterey Bay

Sea lions in Monterey Bay

Walking around the wharf after the cruise, we also spotted a big pelican and two sea otters playing in the water. (The sea otters are those two blobs between the buoys—a NatGeo contest winner for sure.)

Pelican? in Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay Sea Otters

Ok, back to whales. Sometimes, we can see them from the apartment! Do you see that small patch of white below, between the top of the building and the land? That’s the spray from a humpback whale! Sometimes they wave hello with their fins! #humblebrag #sorrynotsorry #havingawhaleygoodtime

 

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17-Mile Drive

17-Mile Drive is just what it sounds like: a scenic drive that’s 17 miles long. And, wow, what a beautiful ride!

17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive

There are 21 “points of interest” marked along the route. Several of them are on the coast where you can walk along the rocky shore. I know it sounds funny to get excited about water and rocks, but when the big waves come in and crash loudly against the rocks, it’s very dramatic!

17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive

This little island was full of sea lions. And we saw a few sea birds, too, Amanda!

17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive

The drive also takes you through a nature preserve full of pine and cypress trees. The symbol of Pebble Beach, the famous Lone Cypress tree, is more than 250 years old!

17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive

There are a few golf courses along the route as well. The Lodge at Pebble Beach has a pretty spectacular view of the 18th hole, right on the water. Maybe I should start taking lessons!

Pebble Beach