One of the most popular destinations along the coast of Central California is Big Sur. Travelers come here for stunning views, granted by the Santa Lucia Mountains that rise majestically from the Pacific Ocean. Big Sur is known for its incredible outdoor activities including hiking and mountain climbing. Beyond the natural beauty of the mountains, there are also some Big Sur beaches that attract visitors. You must hike a little to reach these remote beaches, but travelers who take the time during their trip to Central California are rewarded by scenic beaches and great views of the Pacific Ocean.
Big Sur beaches don’t offer the typical California beach experience. Potential visitors should remember that this section of California experiences seasonal fluctuations in temperature, and the water here is often very frigid. Those visitors that love a refreshing swim should keep in mind that the currents here can often be unpredictable. Use extra caution when swimming at the Big Sur beaches and try and stay fairly close to shore. While sunbathing and swimming are fun things to do here, even more popular options include enjoying a picnic or walking along the shore.
Beyond the beaches and hiking, another popular thing to do in Big Sur is to go for a scenic drive. This expanse of coast doesn’t have clearly defined boundaries, but there are miles and miles of scenic roads. Highway 1 runs through Big Sur, and is often called one of the most scenic drives in the whole country. Since it is difficult to drive and look up at the scenery at the same time, there are many strategic places along the drive to stop and take it all in. The summer season is the busiest time to explore this stretch of road, so if you are planning on visiting Big Sur during the summer months, make your hotel reservations ahead of time as the limited number of hotels do fill quickly.
Most of the Big Sur beaches are also state parks. You can choose a couple beaches to visit by researching these state parks along the coast. Some of the top Big Sur beaches are actually protected and visitors aren’t allowed. One example is Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where a gorgeous waterfall plunges directly into the Pacific Ocean. Another popular attraction in Big Sur is the nineteenth century lighthouse. There are nine state parks in total in Big Sur. Remember when visiting these protected areas that it is essential to carry out all of your garbage and help preserve the beaches for future generations.
Every visitor will have their own favorite state park in Big Sur. Carmel River State beach is a mile-long beach known for plentiful migratory birds. Point Lobos has many hiking trails along the ocean and a few small beaches. Another option is Garrapata State Park, with its two miles of beachfront and a short climb to reveal gorgeous views of the Pacific. This is a great place to spot migrating gray whales. Many visitors plan a trip to Point Sur to see the historic lighthouse or Andrew Molera State Park for great fishing and hiking. If you like your beaches rugged and unspoiled, be sure to explore all of these beaches in Big Sur.