Photo by Thlbault Martin-Lagardette
Millions of people come to California and visit Los Angles, San Diego, San Francisco etc and go to all the tourist destinations and ten fly back home- what these people are missing is drive down the pacific coastal highway (PCH) This scenic coastal route is best described as majestic and awesome- this is what makes memories of a lifetime.
The pacific coastal highway is officially a 130-mile patch that runs between Dana Point and Oxnard in Southern California. However, there are some people who argue that the real pacific coastal highway runs all the way down from the Canadian border of British Columbia to Mexico- this route is nearly 2,000 miles — whatever the case, the PCH is considered one of the most scenic drives on this planet.
Construction of the PCH started in the 1920’s as a planned interstate link between the Canadian and Mexican. The drive is an exhilarating experience with huge cliffs suddenly diving into the Pacific Ocean, twisting roads and monster waves slamming against the granite rocks.
If you are coming to California and are short on time, then the 130-mile route will provide you with ample thrills. Avoid peak summer as the PCH is packed with beach goers. If you come in autumn, then drive south as this will give you nice warm weather and the sun will be out a lot longer.
The 130 miles route in California can be visualized at leisure pace in about half a day but the 2,000-mile trip can take 3-7 days, depending on how often you stop. You can do the trip in a rental car and drive back — do not go with a one way stop because rental companies charge a steep one way drop off fee-which is in excess of $500. If you do not have a car, then take the train- it is just as pleasant.
If you start up north of San Francisco you will pass through some of the impressive and towering redwood forests, artistic beach towns and cottages and some of the best beaches on this planet. The Humboldt Redwood state park offers an opportunity to hike and see the wild life. You can even drive through the base of the redwood along the Avenues of the Giants.
For those who have only heard about the Golden Gate Bridge, this is one bridge you have to cross. It is massive and offers breath-taking views on either side. Continue south and you will see why California is paradise for millions of people- the Monterrey peninsula is not only spectacular but also home of John Steinbeck and the Monterrey Jazz festival.
Passing just south of San Francisco you will come to Santa Cruz. Known for its all year round great weather, it offers excellent waves for surfing. It is the mecca for surfers and do not worry, you can rent all the surfing equipment at the beach
Going further south, you will come to yet another paradise- Caramel by the Sea. This quaint little town is the most dog friendly city in the USA. With a Mediterranean climate, this is the place to have a picnic. The adjacent areas of the town are ecofriendly and have protected marine life.
The climax of the trip is Big Sur; this landscape offers you some of the best views of California’s rugged coastline. Here you will see the road suddenly curve and plunge to the coast and rise again. One gets to appreciate the power of water at this point. Most people stop at Big Sur because it as ample places to eat and lodge. If you have time, spend time at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. A few miles south, you will see signs for Nepenthe- a restaurant located at 800 feet and offers superb views of the sea that are a must for instagram
As you go down south you will reach San Simeon, where you need to stop and take a bus to see the majestic Hearst castle, famed for its European architecture and artwork. As you go further south, you will pass Bixy Bridge, which is a single span concrete arch. Park and just take the view of the landscape- you will be blown away.
The PCH continues south through Malibu and the very popular but congested Zuma beach with its pristine blue warm waters and soft white sand. Further down south, you will pass through the California icon- Hollywood and the highway officially ends in Los Angeles.
If you plan to drive down PCH, get a convertible- because only then will you understand why Californians never stop dreaming.
This blog is powered by TheCaliCamp – surf camp for adults based in Southern California. Inspired by our guests and our own adventures.