CALIFORNIA, PART DEUX – HIGHWAY 1 & CARMEL

On to the second part of our trip (see previous post for info about Santa Barbara) – Santa Barbara to Carmel.

HIGHWAY 1

The Highway 1 coastal drive starts just after San Luis Obispo – about 2 hours from Santa Barbara. Note that the most spectacular scenery doesn’t really start until after Cambria (another half an hour’s drive). Photographs don’t do justice to the breathtaking landscape along this road.

DSC03000

Places of interest along the drive:

Morro Bay
We stopped in this surfing town for a picnic on the beach (in the shadow of a ginormous rock and even more ginormous power station!). The town itself had a few eateries and shops but we didn’t have time to explore.

Hearst Castle
http://hearstcastle.org/ Book tickets in advance if you want to visit.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
Just after San Simeon there is a popular, well sign-posted stop to watch hundreds of huuuuge elephant seals flop about, snooze and occasionally fight on the beach. Amazing sight!

DSC02983

Scenic Viewpoints
There are plenty of laybys and places to pull over to enjoy the outstanding views.

We did the drive from Santa Barbara to Carmel in one day (approx. 4-5 hours of driving) but if you want to take your time, there are about half a dozen camping sites and some hotels and along the way. Here are a couple to get you started:

http://raggedpointinn.com/
http://www.treebonesresort.com/ Glamping resort. Children aged 6+ only.
http://www.glenoaksbigsur.com/

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA

Carmel is a small, arty town on the coast. It’s famous for having had Clint Eastwood as its mayor. We loved the laid back atmosphere and huge number of restaurants.

Watch the sunset!
This is my number 1 thing to do in Carmel. If you’re in town around dusk, you’ll notice everyone casually making their way down Ocean Avenue to the beach to watch one of the most magnificent sunsets you’ll ever see.

DSC03194

Magical sky

People chilling on the beach at dusk

People chilling on the beach at dusk

Monterey Bay Aquarium
http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/ Monterey lacks the charm of neighbouring Carmel, but it does have a wonderful aquarium. Well worth the entrance fee. We had a great dinner afterwards in http://www.schoonersmonterey.com/

DSC03049 DSC03056

17 mile drive. You have to pay $10 to drive along this section of road (refundable against any purchases within the park). I was surprised by the amount of development going on and the scenery isn’t as wild and majestic as Highway 1. However, we did enjoy lunch and the view at The Bench on the Pebble Beach Golf Course http://www.pebblebeach.com/dining/the-lodge-at-pebble-beach/the-bench

DSC03150

View of the 18th hole from The Bench at Pebble Beach Golf Club

DSC03173

Lone cypress tree on 17 mile drive

Carmel River State Beach
Our rental house was situated in Carmel Meadows, a small estate in the Carmel River State Beach area (search for Ribera Road in google maps). The beach doesn’t have any facilities but as a result was wonderfully quiet. The sand isn’t as fine and white as the beach in town but there are rock pools, mussels, and hermit crabs. It is a stunning place and worth a visit.

DSC03099

Carmel River State Beach

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s