A Bucket List Vacation we all rave about along the most enchanting and exhilarating scenic drive in Northern America
Did you know that the rugged stretch of California pacific coast highway 1 between Carmel Valley in Monterey Bay Area and Cambria in San Luis Obispo County, is indeed the most enchanting and exhilarating drive in Northern America?
This rugged coastline is not very populated and known as “Big Sur” means “the big south” in Spanish- it’s a remote region and wilderness located in the Central Coast of California, and dominated by Santa Lucia Mountains that plunge into the ocean. This region stretches over 92 miles (141 km) of breathtaking coastline and spectacular commanding vistas along the infamous California pacific highway 1.
The history of this highway started with the construction of what will become later state highway 1 connecting Big Sur with the rest of California which was mooted as early as 1910, but was delayed by the advent of WWI. The construction took over of what is now known as California state Highway 1 and started after the state’s third highway bond9approval) which was passed back in 1919. At that time, California highways were not publicly referred to by any route numbers, and California Highway 1 name was given to it about 15 years later. As many as 33 picturesque bridges were required to span creeks and rivers along this rugged coastline. This was incorporated into the state system later as State Highway 1 of California.
Here what you should know before you travel to Big Sur
1) Decide between California main highway 101 or Coast highway 1
Take the long way via coastal highway 1, the picturesque views and natural wonders are rewarding. However, if you’re in a rush, take the main freeway 101.
Big Sur state coastal highway 1 is a must-do experience and not something to be checked off your backlist of things to do in California. California has so much to offer, that’s what makes it is so unique and different from all other US states. Give Big Sur at least a day trip if you are leaving from San Francisco or Los Angeles. If you do not take a full day in Big Sur, you’re not going to get much out of your visit to Big Sur.
2) Plan your Big Sur and Hearst Castle trip ahead and avoid holidays and summers’ vacation.
Forget Apple and Google Maps, and forget your cell phone entirely — there is no telephone service along Big Sur costal highway and beach towns. Take your time, plan where to go to avoid wasting time looking for this unmarked itinerary or that hidden route so you enjoy Big Sur wilderness and make great memories to share with your family, friends and relatives.
If you want to save time and visit amazing hidden wonders, off the beaten path hikes, ancient redwoods, ocean front dining rooms, hidden beaches and waterfalls and avoid the hassle of looking for this or that turn and getting lost here and there, consider hiring a professional tour guide, well worth every penny you will spend.
3) Where to overnight and how to choose an organized tour is really essential and highly recommended.
The common mistake visitors and travelers do is believing that they can just drive through Big Sur and see it all in few hours without any prior planning! Wrong, don’t frame nature from the windows of your car -experience it. This is not a route like all others, and it takes forever to get out of Big Sur before dark. I recommend staying at one of the hotels in San Simeon if you want to visit the iconic Hearst Castle, or in Monterey Bay Area so you can tour Carmel by the sea, or travel on the famous 17-mile drive and visit it’s the iconic Pebble Beach, Monterey Cannery Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium or enjoy a fresh seafood meal in Monterey Fisherman’s’ Wharf
If you are looking for an upscale resort in Big Sur, the Post Ranch hotel or Ventana Inn Spa are recommended or stay at the Lodge at Pebble Beach in Carmel. If you are on a budget, you may consider staying at one of the hotels or motels in Monterey Bay Area or in San Luis Obispo County.
4) No matter where you go; there is always a tourist trap here or there, this is where a tour guide comes handy to save you time and money. Time is priceless and you will need every minute of your journey to Big Sur.
5)Some state parks in Big Sur have admissions’ policy so have some cash as some of these parks do not accept credit cards including Pfeiffer Burns state park. Some state parks and lighthouses are hard to find and have usual hours of operations which makes them almost inaccessible, you may want to consider hiring a tour guide to make the most of your day trip.
6) Getting off the beaten path is really, really recommended and not easy to find.
There are, believe it or not, other roads in Big Sur Wilderness besides Highway 1 to explore them in-depth – read as much as you can about Big Sur or consider hiring a tour guide.
7) Food and Restaurants: Ensure you have a snack and water in the vehicle before departing; your options are very limited in Big Sur.