“The greatest meeting of land and sea” is what many have called this magical, mystical and magnificent must-see destination. Strap on your hiking boots and come along on this journey as I lead you into one of my many frequently visited places on the coast of California. In between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean lies Big Sur, a true outdoor paradise.

Big Sur is famously known for its dramatic coastal hiking trails, towering redwoods, and purple sandy beaches (yes, purple!). The rushing waterfalls with ragged cliffs, the beauty of deep blue green water, and the sheltered coves protecting the land from crashing waves as the water emerges onto the sand is an unforgettable experience that will leave you speechless.

As we gear up on what is known to be one of the longest, most scenic and mesmerizing coastlines in the world, I will take you through six of my favorite spots. So, make sure you are packed with supplies and ready to hit the road. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

How to get there (if you don’t have apple or google maps): From the North, take highway 1 past Carmel. From the South, take highway 1 past Morro Bay. It is the only highway 1 in California, you won’t be able to miss it.

Stop One: Garrapata State Park – Costal Bluff Hiking

This unspoiled gem of a hike is located 6.7 miles south of Carmel. The sign of entry is to your right, but a bit hidden. It should not be hard to find, as you will see cars parked on either side of the highway. The unpopulated trails provide access to both coastal and mountain hiking, depending on which you prefer. The parks redwood groves and rugged coastline is hidden from the road and can only be seen by entering the desired trail.

I recommend hiking the 2-mile costal loop bluff hike, an easy hike that almost anyone can do. The oceanic trail will lead you up a 50-foot climb to a panoramic view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. But if you are feeling a bit adventurous then I would recommend taking a detour down to a small beach cove which you will see as you hike along the loop trail. A must-see stop if you like climbing rocks and looking for crabs, sea urchins and starfish.

Fun fact—every year for Mother’s Day weekend I take my kids down here to enjoy the place that shaped a large part of my life, a home away from home.

Stop Two: Garrapata Park State Beach – Ocean Front Stroll

A ten-minute drive from our first stop, this park is visible to passerby eyes. The rocky cliffs, spring wildflowers and white sandy beaches will make you feel like you are in a whole other part of the world!

I recommend taking a short walk along the freshwater creek where you will be greeted with natural sounds and breathtaking views. If you go during the spring months you will find yourself surrounded by wild calla lilies that blanket the creek bed.

FYI – Once you stroll a few miles past this beach, clothing is optional. Nude or not nude this jewel is another must-see.

Stop Three: Rocky Point Restaurant – Let’s Eat!

By now a well-deserved break is in order. A five-minute drive from Garrapata State Beach is one of the best restaurants on the coast – Rocky Point. Perched right on the cliff with panoramic windows. You are welcome to sit next to a cozy fireplace, or outside on their gorgeous deck. I highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat here, it is one of my favorite spots for lunch. I always get their lobster bisque, but other food on their menu is just as delicious!

After you are done eating, take a short walk along one of the most dramatic rock formations. You will see the turquoise waves crash against the rocks as it carries the water up onto the shore and back out to sea again. Pictures are a must! If you are lucky, you may even see migrating grey whales, sea otters and the barking of sea lions in the distance.

There is a special place behind there rocks where I practice yoga and meditation. It is the perfect spot to digest, commune with nature and silence the mind. I always gain a sense of peace after leaving this place and sometimes I am surprised by what my intuition finds!

Stop Four: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park – Pfeiffer Beach

A twenty-minute drive south of Rocky Point restaurant is Pfeiffer Beach on the right side of highway 1. The sharp turn-off is located shortly after Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Upon entry, you will drive in down a narrow, winding road for another five-ten minutes.

This is one of the most unique beaches I have ever seen on the central coast of California. Known for colorful purple sand is a must-see! Mind you though, not the entire beach is purple. As you move towards the north part of the beach you will find more pockets of purple.

Pfeiffer Beach is also famous for the arched rock, a great sight to watch as the waves come crashing in. Make sure to bring your camera, as you will want to capture this highly memorable experience!

Stop Five: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – McWay Falls

Located about thirty-minutes south of Pfeiffer beach are the McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. You will enter on the right side of the highway but can find parking on either side of the park’s road.

Caution: The road can get very crowded, especially on the weekends and holidays. There is a $10 fee to park inside. Once you are inside, you will walk along a path for roughly ten-minutes that guides you towards an observation deck with panoramic views of “the greatest meeting of land and sea!”

This spot is great for watching migrating whales, as well as the 80-foot waterfall. A must-see sight! The falls are not accessible, but a wonder to gaze at as you will see water plunging into the sandy shores and ragged cliffs, creating a cove that turns the color of crashing waves from deep blue to turquoise.

Stop Six: Nepenthe Restaurant – Let’s Eat…Again!

The last stop on this breathtaking journey is a Nepenthe restaurant for you to enjoy a well-deserved meal after all that hiking! Nepenthe means “land of now sorrow” and I can almost guarantee you will not feel any sorrow after your experience along highway 1.

The restaurant has great indoor seating with a huge fireplace and outdoor seating with more panoramic ocean views (if you haven’t seen enough so far!) I recommend their cheese plate and ambrosia burger.

Plan on hanging out here for a while. Kick up your feet, relax, and soak in all you experienced today. Along one road, you can find all you need and more!

In health & happiness,