Day 23 – Monterrey to Cayucos, via Pebble Beach and Carmel

Day 2 of our Pacific Coast Highway Drive

We left our Motel and drove out through Monterey passing the historic Cannery Row.  The old fishermen buildings had been turned into trendy shops and the place had a very ‘upmarket’ feel to it.  Given it was another Californian grey, misty morning many people seemed to be out shopping rather than enjoying the natural scenery.

Moving on from Monterrey we made our way to Carmel via the ’17 mile drive’ which included a number of golf courses.

We stopped off at various view points on the way including one par 3 golf hole where the tee was on a bit of a peninsula and you had to hit the green about  200 yards away over rocks and sea.

The 17 mile drive took us past lovely rocky coves, but more important to us, passed a couple of golf courses, before we ended up at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Club.  This famous course has hosted numerous championships and will be the site of the 2019 US Open. Being golfers we stopped for a visit at his famous old club. There are many shops and the clubhouse caters for casual visitors. There are various cabinets storing trophies, like most golf clubs around the world. The difference being these trophies were much larger and had been won by many world famous golfers.

We watched people tee off the first and walked down to the 18th Green which is flanked by water. I will enjoy watching the US Open next year having seen a bit of this course.

US Open trophy

Graeme McDowell, winner US Open 2010 at Pebble Beach

Playing golf was not on our agenda today. So we moved in and drove around Carmel which appeared to be a ‘millionaires’ place with the most amazing properties. It was home (and may still be) to the Hollywood actor, Clint Eastwood, who at one time turned politician and became Mayor of this stunning town. The houses around me throughout 17 mile drive were stunning and many had private ocean views.

We left the manicured area of Carmel behind and entered into another well known part of the coastal drive, ‘The Big Sur’. As we entered this area we moved into more forest land with giant redwood trees. We came across small areas where wooden cottages, campsites, restaurants and shops had obviously sprung up to satisfy tourist demand. But it was all done tastefully and did not spoil the natural ambience, if anything these lodges added to the area’s charm. There were numerous walking trails to the river and being a Sunday the different car parks were busy but not packed as they would be in high season.

Entering the sign for the Julia Pfeiffer State Park we stopped at the Ranger’s Office and got details for visiting the McWay Falls. This interesting little walk through the trees and under the US1 road in a small tunnel brought us out to the cliff’s edge. There we could see the waterfall, not the biggest we have seen on this tour, but the only one we have seen entering the sea directly.

Back topless in the Mustang down US1 as the sun was getting warmer, we were enjoying the Big Sur drive. The landscape changed again with smaller fir trees growing right up to the cliff faces along this rocky coastline. To the left away from the coastline above us was forest and rocky hills. No ‘resort’ type shops on this stretch of US1 – just miles and miles of forests and beautiful rocky coastline. Another different landscape for us on this tour.

After the forest drive we moved into more of a rocky barren coastline before the landscape changed again and we entered what looked more like prairie land to our left with the road still hugging the sea.

This was driving back past the elephant sea lion rookery. The sea lions looked like large sand and grey coloured boulders resting in the sun. It reminded us of seeing the same sight in New Zealand a few years ago – the other side of this vast ocean.

Just before San Simeon we detoured to have a look at Hearst Castle. We didn’t want to go inside but living near two old castles both in Spain and the UK we were intrigued to see what it looked like. The entrance was $25 each and we really were not passionate enough to visit it. We saw a bit of the castle and realise the views from the top must be spectacular looking over the Ocean and coastline, but it was one tour we felt we could miss.

Heading off through San Simeon on our way to Cambria and our resting place for the night – Cayucos.

Out of Cambria the road weaved inland slightly and with a little imagination with the layout of the hills you could have been in Derbyshire, Yorkshire or Scotland. The lack of stone walls and sheep gave it away as well!

Leaving the Bug Sur behind we drove through a couple of small towns on US1 before arriving at Cayucos. This charming seaside town seems stuck in a time warp from another era. There were no large restaurant chains or coffee shops here. We checked into our hotel and were impressed with our room which included a small kitchen. Outside was a communal bbq area and we had a view of the sun setting.

One of two beds in our room complete with kitchen area

We wanted to see it set over the ocean so we made our way to the front. No beach bars or chiringuitos here, just lovely houses or the occasional small hotel.

After the sunset we went to the only “saloon bar” in town. The Cayucos Tavern is an old fashioned saloon with a poker room and a game which looked like curling on a long silicone sand table called shuffle board. The ‘cheese’ was quite heavy and slid just like in curling. People were very friendly and gave us suggestions of where we should stay on the rest of our Pacific Coast Drive.

We then had dinner in a traditional Californian wooden restaurant called Schooners. It was lovely and so atmospheric. There were tables upstairs overlooking the ocean or downstairs in little booths surrounding a large log burning stove.

We were told Cayucos is the last traditional small town we would see on the coast from now on as we head south tomorrow. A shame as we have loved these small, non tourist places we have discovered on our tour.

After dinner we walked back to our hotel ready to set off down on US1 again tomorrow.

Ax