Big Love For Big Sur

Bixby Bridge Big Sur

The Lonely Planet describes Big Sur as: “More a state of mind than a place you can pinpoint on a map.” While that’s not entirely true- there is actually a small village called Big Sur- the sentiment is there. Big Sur is more than just a place  to visit or drive through. It’s a whole experience, and a very memorable one at that.

It starts when you pile in the car eager and fresh with a cup of coffee, and ends with the last winding road before sunset. For those smart enough to actually book a night in Big Sur village, it will last even longer. For everyone else, the drive will take twice the time Google maps suggests; you’ll be pulling  the car over every few minutes to take in the amazing views.

Big Sur California

Big Sur California

Big Sur is one of the most beautiful destinations in California. When people talk about this area, they are referring to a long stretch of winding road, with views of dramatic cliff drops, jagged rocks and crashing ocean. We started early in Santa Barbara (well, early-ish. First we had to introduce Tamsin and Guido, visiting from Holland, to the American deliciousness that is IHOP- The International House of Pancakes. Surely a tradition that all roadtrippers must partake in.) but it was a good few hours before we reached beautiful Big Sur.  I admit I was worried we would have to rush to get there before dark. However, we couldn’t have planned it better.

Driving through Big Sur in the late afternoon meant the light was absolutely beautiful and we arrived in Carmel just in time for the perfect sunset! From Carmel it was just a short drive to Monterey, where we spent the night. I would really recommend giving yourself a full day if you are making the drive all the way from Santa Barbara – you’ll make plenty of stops for scenery, photos and food!

Big Sur California

Big Sur California

Seagulls Big Sur California

The only way to see Big Sur is by driving the famous Highway 1. The Big Sur region starts north of San Simeon (where Hearst Castle is Located) and ends south of Carmel (which is close to Monterey). Or you can do it the other way round. Or even both- as Justin and I did! After saying goodbye to Tamsin and Guido in San Francisco, we did the drive back to Newport Beach in reverse! We could have taken a faster, inland road, but the coast was too pretty not to see it again. I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing it for at least a third and fourth time at some point in the future too!

Rocks Big Sur California

Yoga at Big Sur

Sunset in Carmel

Accommodation Tips

Big Sur really is as beautiful as the pictures. I can’t wait to go back and I’d love to stay in Big Sur village. I’ve heard it’s expensive  but camping is available. We stayed in Monterey where, if you’re on a budget, you can get a good deal on a motel room compared to nearby Carmel. In general, we found it cheaper to rent one motel room with two Queen beds for the four of us, than two separate smaller rooms. There are also some cheap hostels in the region- but we didn’t visit them this time.

Big Sur- California Road Trip- Paper Crane Stories


What do you think? Would you like to visit Big Sur? Have you been on any other beautiful coastal drives?

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19 thoughts on “Big Love For Big Sur

  1. I’ve done so many road trips in the US, but this one has eluded me! At least this particular section of Rte 1. Awesome shots! I’m *hoping* to plan a Cali trip next year out of San Francisco, so I’ll have to drive at least part of Big Sur then!

  2. This actually reminds me of the Great Ocean Road in Australia! I’ve still not made it to Cali, but so many places here in Australia recall what I imagine California to be like. When I get back to the States after this trip, I think I’ll be more motivated and inspired to go than ever before.

  3. It looks and sounds like such a beautiful place! I want (and NEED) to go sooo badly! You’re photos are very tempting.
    Driving on PCH is always a good time, especially in Southern Orange County, which I’m sure you’ve figured out by now! 🙂

  4. So many people seem to go camping here and I can see why. I’m not a big camper but I always regret not going there during my little road trip a few years ago. Ah well, that’s what next time’s for. 😉 Beautiful pictures btw.

  5. These photos are absolutely stunning! I fell in love with Big Sur last year, even though I just drove through it on our way to Santa Monica, I fell in love and hopefully I’ll be able to go back to explore the area properly soonish.

  6. These photos are insane! I’ve been dreaming of driving to Big Sur ever since I first went to California a few years ago. It just looks incredible. My boyfriend and I are planning to go to San Fran/Big Sur/Sonoma next year and your post just got me super excited haha! xx

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