Big Sur Drive: Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 2
This was the most scenic part of the Pacific Coast Highway according to our (limited) research and knowing we’re prone to long photo stops and wanted to do a couple of the hikes in Big Sur, we decided to get an early start then finish the day in Cambria so we didn’t have to feel too rushed.
Driving 17 Mile Drive
Once again, we had a little fight with our GPS to start our day. It really wanted us to go to the end of 17 Mile Drive and do it backwards so we had to force it to take us to the beginning. It’s safe to say we no longer trust our GPS at all now and just use it as a glorified map now.
We paid our $10 fee at the start of 17 Mile Drive then headed straight to the coast, driving past picturesque golf courses and pacific ocean waves crushing the rocky shoreline.
It was beautiful, and if I was a golfer then I would definitely put it on my list of places to play but just driving the route wasn’t quite worth the fee.
Bixby Bridge is the famous highlight of the Big Sur drive and you’ve no doubt seen photos of it! There are quite a few similar bridges along the drive but Bixby is the only one where you can actually see the whole grand structure. It was the bridge that connected the, at times stranded, Big Sur residents to the rest of the coast when it was built in 1932.
To be honest, after seeing just how narrow the piles are and the height of the bridge it made me pretty nervous to drive across it!
Hiking in Big Sur
There are heaps of hikes to do in Big Sur including one that has a gain of 1600 feet! No doubt the views are spectacular but we didn’t have the time (or the fitness level) needed to complete that one so we chose a couple of easier ones instead.
Another famous highlight of Big Sur is McWay Falls, part of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Just a quick stop off the highway, this waterfall comes off the cliff onto a beach. The fog made it hard to get nice clear photos but it did help create this moody black & white shot that I created while editing my photos of the day. It’s now my background on my laptop and probably my favourite photo of our entire Big Sur road trip.
This was NOT a well marked trail. Should you ever find yourself here, just stay close to the river as you walk up the trail and you should save yourself some time and confusion. It’s not a long hike (just 15 mins if you go the right way) and you’ll hear the small waterfall before you see it so that helps those of us who are directionally challenged.
Even without these stops, the Big Sur section of the Pacific Coast Highway is worth the drive. The views of the coast line are gorgeous and, at times, a bit distracting if you’re the driver! So if you only have time to drive straight down PCH without stopping, do it.
It’s worth it.
More information on the Big Sur drive
How long is the Big Sur drive from Monterey to Cambria?
103 miles via the 1 along the coast which is just under 3 hours drive not including stops (beware that google maps and GPS will default to the more boring but quicker inland route on the 101)
17 Mile Drive
Cost is $10 and the best place to start is the Pacific Grove entrance where you pay your $10 to get in. There are several lookouts and parking lots where you can stop for pictures and also Pebble Beach Golf Course if you feel like a round of golf!
Where is the Bixby Bridge?
The famous Big Sur bridge is 18 miles (about ½ an hour) drive south of Monterey on Highway 1 (you can’t miss it). There is a parking lot and view point on your right when driving south just before the bridge and you can cross the road (carefully) to also get a view up the road on the other side.
Hiking in Big Sur
McWay Falls Lookout and Canyon Trail are two easy and relatively short hikes in Pfeiffer National Park just off Highway 1 (there is a paid parking lot or spaces on the side of the road). Both are easy hikes with a few bigger options like Ewoldsen trail should you have the time (http://www.hikinginbigsur.com/hikes_ewoldsen.html)
Moonstone Landing – Cambria Accommodation
We stayed at Moonstone Landing and loved it there – there are cheaper options but it is in a great location over the road from the beach with really nice rooms (check out Dayna’s reaction at the end of the video abover), comfortable beds, and super fast free internet.
*Some of the links used above are affiliate links – there is no difference in cost to you but we do get a small commission if you book or buy through the link. As always, we only ever recommend and link to accommodation that we have stayed at and thought was good or things that we use ourselves.