Below you will find helpful information about Big Sur Coast.
The Big Sur Coast stretches between Carmel and San Simeon, covering some 90 miles in the process. The major road?in fact, about the only road?is California 1, the scenic highway that follows the Pacific coast all the way through California. East of the Santa Lucia Range is the Salinas Valley, with more natural attractions such as Pinnacles National Monument, but routes over the mountains are few and far between. If you're on the coast side, you might as well stay there for a while.
An excellent source of information on current conditions in the area is Big Sur Station (831-667-2315). Home to the regional offices for local state parks and national forests, the station can tell visitors about local hiking and other recreational options, weather conditions, and more.
Monterey / Carmel
The north edge of Big Sur is the tiny town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, just south of Monterey. This picturesque town is a popular tourist stop, but careful zoning restrictions have allowed it to preserve its simple charm. Ocean Avenue slopes gently down to Carmel Beach, a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy the rich blue colors of the ocean. To the east, Carmel Valley Road climbs upland past some of the coast's most famous wineries. Contact the Carmel Visitor Center at 800-550-4333 for the latest information.
Just to the south is Point Lobos State Reserve, one of the prettiest state parks in California. A spectacular thrust of rocky outcroppings meets the ocean surf here, where sea lions play and visitors soak in the surroundings. Diving, photography, and sightseeing are all popular activities. The reserve is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and an $8/vehicle fee is charged. Call 831-624-4909 with questions about the reserve.
Central Big Sur
South of Carmel, the highway continues through more spectacular countryside, passing redwood and oak trees and crossing over narrow bridges. The Point Sur Lighthouse (831-625-4419) stands dramatically atop a volcanic outthrust of rock, and has been in operation for more than 100 years. Tours are offered daily. Just south you'll find Andrew Molera State Park (831-667-2315), with miles of hiking trails and a small number of campsites.
Other parks in the area include the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (831-667-2315), with elevated views popular for watching animals from birds to whales, and Limekiln Creek State Park (831-667-2403), with fishing and a focus on the abandoned kilns.
San Simeon Area
The San Luis Obispo coast continues south to San Simeon, passing more historic lighthouses and rocky points with elephant seals and other marine life. The town of San Simeon is most famous for the sprawling Hearst Castle complex (800-444-4445). The twentieth century newspaper magnate's enormous estate offers four separate tours. San Simeon State Park (805-927-2020) has a beach, hiking trails, and campsites amid eucalyptus groves and rocky shoreline.