A Spectacular Coastline – Big Sur

Along scenic Highway One approximately 150 miles south of San Francisco lies a 90-mile stretch of awesome beautiful coastline – Big Sur. Its dramatic meetings of rugged cliffs and raving waves of the Pacific Ocean create a spectacular view of land and sea, offering an irresistible reason for an excursion from Silicon Valley.


The weather of this Memorial weekend couldn’t be better. The bright sunshine of May breathes new life into every form of being. Flowers are blossoming, vegetation is green, and the smell of the ocean washes away any tension and distress in modern life. Here, technology doesn’t matter and business is irrelevant.

Among its numerous state parks and beaches, my favorite spot is McWay Waterfall. A short trail leads to an astonishing 80-foot waterfall, dropping off a cliff onto the beach nested in a little cove. The aqua blue water gently taps onto the white sand shore, as ceaseless pulses of the ocean. The sublime beauty of the scene cheers my heart and uplifts my spirit. To say it is a paradise on earth is an understatement!

A day hike of Tan Bark Trail sees the best of the Big Sur wilderness. The trail goes up through redwoods and tan oaks, with slopes as steep as amost 90 degrees and a running creek streaming down crystal-clear waters. Near the top of the mountains, a waterfall runs under a short wooden bridge. Sitting on the bridge and listening to nature rejuvenate me. On the way back, a grand ocean view of California bays overlooking Highway One came into sight – it literally took my breath away!

Nothing can end the day more delightfully than watching the sunset at Pfeiffer Beach. A secret of Big Sur, Pfeiffer Beach is hidden in the far end of the winding Sycamore Canyon Road. The beach is spotted by rough rocks, with an arch magically standing amidst roaring waves. It is said at certain time of the year, the sun actually sets exactly in the arch. As the wind blew stronger toward dusk, the setting sun shining through flying clouds presented a drastic seascape that I would never forget.

I am immensely humbled by the beauty of nature at Big Sur. Isn’t it a luxury, or a necessity, to be able to pause and reflect in life? To be harmonious with nature is to be harmonious with our inner selves. Big Sur, it’s not just a spectacular coastline, it’s also a destination of natural beauty and harmony.

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43 thoughts on “A Spectacular Coastline – Big Sur

  1. wow.after reading such a beautiful description,I wish I was there in the blink of an eye.Just need so much of nature right now to calm down frayed nerves

  2. Maya, thanks for stopping by. Isn’t it nice to be in nature?

    I have many pictures to go with the article, but cannot upload them I think Blogger has problems. Please check back later when the pictures are uploaded.

  3. Yes,I love being one with nature.
    the water element is my favourite.
    hmmmm sometimes I face problems loading pictures on to blogger and that is why my last post didn’t have any.it’s like the blogger is going through PMS.haha 😉

  4. Really Nice. I dont know whether i will ever be able to visit these places. Reading your vivid description and these beautiful pics, satisy me a lot!

    Thanks Helen!

    Do write more and travel more.

  5. maya, thanks for coming back. The pictures are finally up now.

    srijith, I am glad you enjoyed reading my post. Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll try to write more.

  6. You make me jealous Helen! What a great way to spend memorial day. Unfortunately I was packing boxes for our upcoming house remodel. Thanks for a descriptive article with great pics.

  7. Helen,

    Excellent job showing us around one of the most beautiful places in the US! Of course, drumming up additional visitors will spoil this place more quickly, but I think it’s worth the risk.

  8. Oh Helen…how you make me want to just get in my car and drive West to California! So many beautiful places in one state. Thanks for sharing this and transporting at least my mind for a few minutes. Love the photos, they are wonderful!

  9. It is a beautiful area, yes. If I didn’t live here–Imperial Beach–I’d live in San Luis Obispo, not too far from Big Sur.

  10. Katrina, it’s indeed a great day to spend on Memorial weekend. the weather was perfect.

    Thanks, Betty!

    Eric, yes, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the US. It’s fun to write my experience.

  11. Thanks, Shawn, I am sure the Imperial Beach is just as beautiful.

    California, please visit home soon :-)!

    Jessie, thanks for stopping by. I always enjoyed your travel photos and articles.

    John, welcome back! That comment from you – a real writer – is a real complement to me! Thanks a lot! Perhaps I should publish it somewhere like travel jounal, airline, etc, but I don’t know how???

  12. THis article brought back all my senses alive on a bright spring day in Esalen, drumming with Olotunji and looking out over the impossibly high clifs to the crashig sea. Thank you so much for conjuring up for me the trees, the trails, the ocean, the majesty and epic beauty of this place.

    Wery well organized and splendidly crafted travel essay, Helen. You should publish this in a travel, airline, or regional magazine!

  13. Helen, I agree that it is a most beautiful place. Your very descriptive account brought back memories of when I was there 14 years ago. Would like to go back sometime. You have a wonderful way with words.

  14. The area looks just beautiful, Helen. Wish I could see it. At least you’ve given me a few great pictures. Thanks!

  15. John, I guess I missed your comment on Esalen. You know what, it was my first time to be there and it’s a little shocking experience :-). But I did get a very nice massage and hot spirng tub right on the cliff overseeing the ocean. Perhaps I should write about it ;-).

  16. Helen, Absolutely stunning…What a wonderful way to have spent your Memorial Day weekend. You always have such get ideas. I so enjoyed reading your article & viewing the magnificent photo’s. TY for sharing your journey with us.
    -) M.

  17. Matha, I am glad you like the photos.

    Jerry, welcome to Gather. Loved your poem about your daughter. Hope to see you more!

  18. Beautiful. I love the way that photo essays can take me places I have never been before. Thank you for this experience.

  19. Maureen, thanks again for your very sweet comment. Will check Sadi’s poem later. Gather site has some many problems, and I cannot upload pictures, sometime even cannot post comments…. frustrating! Will talk to Ben later.

    Edward, thank you for being a my very loyal reader!

  20. Helen, we are so blessed to live in California and actually walk these lovely beaches! There is something primal about Big Sur with it’s scents of cedar and pine, the gorgeous tumultuous sea and the landscape. You did a beautiful job on this and the photographs enhance the beauty.

  21. great shots and piece. have some good memories of travelling down Big Sur which this reminds me of. thanks.

  22. Candida, we are indeed blessed to live in California!

    Aileen, thanks for stopping by and I remember of reading your story of “We had to meet”, and would like to have follow-up on that…

    David, thanks for connecting. I am glad this article brought back your good memories.

  23. This really brought back memories of 1970. We layed out on the beach with the various nudist communes running around, and then the Monterey County Sheriff showed up that night with a bullhorn threatening to arrest about a 100 people or so if we didn’t get off the beach. So we journeyed on down to Laguna Beach and camped out in a cave on the beach for a week. Later back in Eugene, Oregon, one of my camping friends got arrested and accused of throwing a brick at police because of the California sand in his pockets. “Those were the days, my friend…”

  24. Beautiful writing Helen – I used to live in Carmel – in a garage apt. It was the best time of my life. Big Sur is a diamond.

  25. Helen, Big Sur is my favorite place in America. If you get a chance, go there in early March to witness the migration of Monarch Butterflies. Every twig, leaf, and blade of grass is covered with butterflies. In the morning when the sun rises, clouds of butterflies flutter through the sunbeams.
    I used to camp in Hot Springs Canyon, just north of Esalen. I’d walk up the canyon to a flat spot where I could lay my sleeping bag and stay in the canyon for a week. I don’t know if that’s still possible, with the siege mentality that’s so prevalent in California now, but you would love it. Another version of serenity, with an exultation of butterflies.

  26. What a wonderful essay, Helen! I could almost feel a breeze off the water! The pictures are gorgeous, too. I intend to put the Big Sur River Inn on my list of vacation getaways. Now if only I can pull my husband away…

  27. That is actually my favorite beach in the world. Thanks so much for doing it Justice.
    The coast highway is so beautiful.

  28. Nathan, thanks for stopping by. Yes, Carmel is my love! I go there very often to enjoy the arts.

    George, thanks for sharing your memories of 1970. That’s very intersting. We didn’t go for camping – it must be very fun too! I believe there are still nudist communes there.

    Diana, thanks. I am glad you like the article. Honestly, Big Sur Rier Inn is little over-prices, in my opinion. But it’s hard to get rooms there so we had to go what we got.

    Martin, I will definitely go back in March to see the butterflies. Thank you for letting me know!

  29. Helen, one of my favorite places in the world is that stretch of the PCH. It’s gorgeous with the ocean meeting the mountains and the sunsets are spectacular. Thanks for sharing your pictures. It makes me want to go back again.

  30. The beach used to be free until the Sheriff comes along and evicts you!

  31. What a beautiful package! The story was great and the photos were exceptional! Thanks for the virtual trip!

  32. George, how wonderful that beaches are free those days!

    Laurie, yes, it’s one of THE most beautiful places I’ve visited. Hope you can go back there again soon.

  33. Transport to Western California and back ! Free of cost ! Fantastic. Inspires me to work harder to get there somday ! Thanks and keep writing ! Keep inspiring