Big Sur. The name still roars softly like the sound of waves in my ears. The smell of salt water, sand and seaside scrub is your constant companion along the Highway 1, until you dive into the red wood forest where you feel like walking in mother natures womb. Isolated and quirky, Big Sur is a dreamy get-away from the frenzies of San Francisco and LA, yet it feels like a whole different world.
Santa Cruz and Monterey
We started our trip from San Francisco and first stopped in Santa Cruz, where we put up tent at the New Brighton Beach State Beach camp site. We arrived somewhat late, put up tent and headed down to the beach. The weather was grey and windy and the beach smelly and full of flies. So we drove back into Santa Cruz, but we were lucky enough to arrive one day after the famous board walk had closed its doors for the season. Make sure to check out their hours of operation.
The next morning we headed on to Monterey for breakfast. I am not a big Starbucks fan, but here we it was the surest bet and had a nice view on cannery row. Monterrey is a cute sleepy little former fisher men's town and the old fish canning industry district has been transformed to accommodate tourists. We quickly checked out the vintage shops and then headed on, as here begins the big empty Sur...
Pfeiffer State Park
Our base camp for the rest of the trip became the Pfeiffer State Park Campground and Lodge. The Big Sur River cuts a deep canyon into the Santa Lucia Mountains, filled with red wood and pine trees. We put up tent under the branches of a massive red wood tree, chasing away a squirrel.
Nepenthe for dinner. The restaurant sits atop a hill and boasts the most wonderful views of the coast line. There's a cafe and and a little shop as well, offering souvenirs and nic nacs.
The next morning we woke up early, as you usually do when camping and before breakfast walked up to the Pfeiffer State Park waterfalls. The easy 20 min hike starts right across from the Lodge and restaurant entrance.
Henry Miller Memorial Library, Sand Dollar Beach and Pfeiffer Beach
After the hike the coffee shop in the Lodge was open, we fuelled up on caffeine and drove down towards Sand Dollar Beach. Along the way, we stopped at the lovingly quirky Henry Miller Memorial Library, the only cultural place for the inhabitants of Big Sur that hosts concerts, readings and more.
Further down, we had a dip at Sand Dollar Beach, one of the largest stretches of white sand along the coast. The clouds finally parted and let through a little bit of sunlight. Just enough to get sunburned.
On our way back to camp, we had a quick stop at Pfeiffer State Beach, a lovely sandy beach dotted with harsh rocks. Truly romantic in the last rays of daylight...
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and whale watching in the sun
Our last day strted with breakfast at the Big Sur Bakery. It has good coffee but also pretty expensive - I was not mentally prepared to pay 6$ for a coffee.
The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is only a small but even more beautiful beach, that used to belong to a friend of said woman. A modernistic bungalow overlooked the beach, but the building was torn down. Now the foundations remain and the beach is sealed off to visitors, but pretty to look at.