Big Sur & the Central California Coast

Big Sur is a captivating coastal drive that extends from Monterey & Carmel, south to about Ragged Point. It is extremely popular year round, although the rainy winter months can be a challenge when a big Pacific storm rolls in and lingers. As beautiful as the area is, services are rather limited. There are several gas stations, restaurants and lodging options, the latter are typically booked well in advance and are expensive, so last-minute overnight road trips may not be a good idea. Cell coverage is spotty throughout the area and practically non-existent between MM 45 and MM 59 near San Simeon.

Driving requires your full attention on the narrow roads. Competing for that attention are the beautiful views that draw people from around the world. So, take your time and stop at the many pull-outs.

My Google Map: Big Sur and the Central Coast

Recommended Spots
Point Lobos State Wildlife Preserve
Point Sur Lighthouse
Bixby Bridge
Portal Rock (Keyhole Rock)
McWay Falls

Monterey and Carmel are very popular tourist destinations. Everyone should drive the 17-Mile Drive once, but once will probably do it.

The Lone Cypress at sunset is very popular with photographers. However, it's also very popular with everyone else. Given the limited parking, I recommend you get there an hour before sunset, especially if you plan on using a tripod. People are polite and cooperative with each other, but don't be surprised if a bus unloads passengers just when you're about to shoot. (And, don't be surprised if foreign tourists ask you to take their photos with their camera. Be gracious--it's fun to help them out.)

Monterey Area Information

Lone Cypress Location
Top Ten Photo Locations
17-Mile Drive
Scenic Drives in the Monterey-Carmel area
Downloadable PDF Maps of the area