Tuesday, February 21, 2012
It is an iconic drive, and for good reason. Coastal highway 1 south of Carmel provides spectacular views around each winding bend in the road. There are dozens of pull over stops, official and not, from which to hop out and drink in the view. If you are a runner, the Big Sur Marathon is considered one of the top races in North America. Hikers, nature lovers, foodies and those who excel at doing nothing at all will all find much to love about Big Sur. One must-stop destination: Nepenthe. It has a restaurant, cafe and shop but what it has most of all is spectacular views. Sitting outdoors having a bite to eat while gazing at the Big Sur coastline is one of my favorite memories from this past summer. Although a do-able day trip from the South Bay, to fully appreciate the Big Sur vibe, plan to stay a night or two. Accommodation options range from tent camping to luxury lodges, and everything in between.
One of the best kept secrets of the Bay Area is, in my opinion, the coast between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. While those two places are great destinations in themselves, I much prefer the pleasure of discovering the many small coves and beaches that dot the coastline in between. And you don't have to be terribly intrepid to make a discovery. Simply head along coastal highway 1, and keep your eye peeled for a small path, a particularly wide gravel shoulder or a small gate. Pull over and take a peek. Chances are you have found a path to the coast. Some are steep, some flat, some go through sand dunes and some have small boardwalks to help you navigate through whatever vegetation is about, but all lead to spectacular views and, in my experience, little or no one to share them with. This is when you pull out your camera and get that wide angle shot of you on your private beach. With a blanket, a good book and a picnic lunch there are few better ways to enjoy a sunny day.