One of our most recent adventures was to Big Sur, one of our all time favorite retreats! Everything about that place is breathtaking, no matter which direction you travel (inland or towards the coast), you cannot go wrong. Big Sur’s landscape is unlike any other. With lush rolling hills coming out of the valley, patches of dense coastal redwood forests, and the cascading Big Sur river winding down the hills and diving off of cliffs to empty into the beautiful big blue. If you’re lucky enough, depending on the time of year, you can hike through the magical redwood forests enjoying the presence of a wide variety of blooming wild flowers & the smell of native sage. Even from the highway, which has wide panoramic views, it is possible to spot a whale or two breaching to say hello!
Lets touch on the local activities & dining. There are many tourist spots to stop off and enjoy a very pricey lunch along the cliff side, although they do offer spectacular views, none of them truly live up to the price point. If you are traveling on a budget, or even if you’re not on a tight budget and just want to implement a little bit of romance, a coastal picnic is difficult to beat, especially during sunset. Our method is to find a nice/private spot to pull of the highway and hike a short distance away from the road, usually we travel with a propane camping stove & a hiking backpack full of cooking supplies (more about that in a later post, how to travel & eat good food). You can do your grocery shopping in Monterey, if you are coming from the north. Even if you don’t happen to travel with a mini-stove like we do (Stefen is a chef so we don’t miss any opportunities for a delicious meal), you can grab sandwiches or something of that matter, it really doesn’t take much to make you feel blissful out there.
Hiking trails in Big Sur are like a gold mine, every trail is gorgeous with various geographical qualities. On a hot summer day the Gorge us a great place to refresh your soul, located inside of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Once you arrive at the park it is easy to find the correct trail as it is called Gorge Trail. The hike itself is not for the faint of heart, you will travel upstream through the (shallow) river at certain points, as well as crossing over giant boulders using both hands and feet, depending on your personal journey you may even cross a few log bridges. We have seen young children around the ages 8+ who have made it up there before, so don’t be too intimidated by the boulders & cold water. Once you arrive at the gorge, there will be no question whether you’ve made it to the correct destination. There is even bigger boulders surrounding the swimming hole, as well as fallen logs that now act as waterfall dams. If you are the adventuring type you may choose to swim across the gorge to the far side and take a chance with a 20′ jump into the swimming hole. *please note that water levels change throughout the year, and it may not always be safe to jump from rocks*
Another fantastic hike is at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (not the same as Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which is further north), there are two trails that will blow your mind. First is the easy trail, anyone can make this hike out to see the waterfall, making it’s way through palm trees & rocks to the beachy cute little cove down below (sadly, there is no access to this beach). Another great trail for the semi-experienced hiker is called Ewoldsen. The start of the trail takes your through the moist forest floor where there are flowing creeks that have cute wooden bridges to cross over (you’ll definitely want to get a picture for Instagram, but don’t worry, you’re just getting started). As you progress on the trail all of a sudden you will begin your ascent up a steep & winding path through the redwoods. As your hiking try to take your mind off of the slope and enjoy the wild flowers and sun rays shooting through the tree limbs, yogic breathing helps too 🙂 You will start to approach the top of the hill, the flora and fauna changes as you get closer to the ocean, it becomes a little more arid towards the top as well. As you make your way through the final uphill climbs, you will be heavily rewarded with a view so panoramic you can almost see the curvature of the earth. It’s like the cherry on top of a scrumptuous cake you’ve been slowly nibbling out of. -Wait Big Sur isn’t like a cake, I’m just hungry. On that note, Big Sur is by far one of the most majestic places in California, if not the whole world. Go there, just go.