I believe the Big Sur coast is perhaps one of the most beautiful in the United States, but I say that with some reservation because I have not seen much of the East Coast.
Big Sur is not clearly defined but is said to encompass 90 miles of coastline from the San Carpoforo Creek just north of San Simeon to the Carmel River just south of Monterey. The smaller towns or settlements in this region (ie. Gorda, Lucia) may also be referred to as Big Sur.
Big Sur was named by the Spaniards. They called el pais grande del sur which meant Big Country of the South. The name was shortened to el sur grande and then became Big Sur.
While “beaches” dot the Big Sur’s shoreline, these are not the miles of sandy, wide beaches you will find in Southern California. During all seasons — even summer — they can be windy, much cooler and even on sunny days you will see sporadic blankets of fog which will further lower the temperature. Bring warm clothing and your hiking boots because you will be hiking to most of the beaches.
Pfeiffer Beach would be my favorite because of the sea arch or as some call it “The Sun Portal”. You do not have to go down to the beach to see this as it is easily viewed from the lookout. However if you are a photographer they say that if you go in December or January about two hours before the sun sets the view is breathtaking. The light beam illuminates the archway and bounces off the spray from the waves. The closer the sun gets to setting the more beautiful the light.
So much changes throughout the years and it was about 41 years ago when my husband and I were going up to San Francisco and stopped at Big Sur for a bite to eat. Today the place we stopped is as rustic and charming as it was four decades ago. Love change, but sometimes it’s nice if things stay the same, and not much has changed in this place that was established over seventy years ago. There are those who claim that this is the best place to eat in Monterey County. The history of the Big Sur Restaurant and Inn can be found here. It’s a great story!
Sitting on a volcanic rock just north of the Big Sur Inn is the Point Sur Light Station. Point Sur was home to families that lived and worked at the light station from 1899 until 1974. It is the only complete turn-of-the century light station open to the public in California. It is a National Historic Landmark and holds the distinction of being one of the Top 10 Haunted Lighthouses in the US. Some believe it is the fourth most haunted lighthouse with dozens of spirits inhabiting the buildings and grounds. Many were sailors of the dozens of ships that crashed nearby and specifically two men killed in 1935 when the USS Macon went down at the point. Of course the station keeper’s wife still keeps watch. All of the accounts of those who have visited the light station, particularly those who go on the Moonlight Tour, have made me a believer.
Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in California. Again, as with Mugu Rock you will see it in automobile commercials. I sometimes wonder if we mid-westerners shouldn’t feel a bit slighted. Cars race along beaches and cliffs and on bridges spanning oceans all enticing us to buy the car. Do they really think the “setting” is going to sell the car? Yup…. if I owned that car I could go those places. You think not? When was the last time you saw a auto commercial with a car racing down a gravel road through a corn field! Just sayin’.
All of that aside the Bixby Bridge is a beautiful bridge from its design to the magnificent scenery surrounding it. The bridge opened in 1932 and it was built for $199,861. Sixty-six years later in 1998 they began a $20 million seismic retrofit. Just a little not so trivial trivia.