The Pacific Coast Highway and Big Sur

The Big Sur Coast is world renowned as the best of scenic drives as it follows each twist and turn of the rugged and picturesque California coast.

The Pacific Coast Highway offers stunning coastal views along almost all of its twisting 1,000-mile route from California’s northern border with Oregon to its southern boundary with Mexico. The name “Big Sur” is an abbreviation of the formal name — “El Sur Grande” or “The Big South” — that California’s first Spanish settlers gave to the rugged coastline. Big Sur is located 150 miles south of San Francisco, and 300 miles north of Los Angeles.

Big Sur at Sunset

With the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains to the east and the Pacific to the west, Big Sur remains a remote wilderness and natural masterpiece. “A place of grandeur and eloquent silence” is how Henry Miller, the author of Tropic of Cancer, described his adopted home. Big Sur is right up there with New York’s Times Square on the list of must-sees for many visitors to the United States, as well as Americans.

Big Sur Sunset

The majority of lodging options in Big Sur are either cabin rentals, low-priced motels or luxurious hotels and spas for wealthy tourists.

Along this beautiful coastal highway it is not unusual to see soaring California Condors, migrating Gray, Humpback and Blue whales. In the southern part of Big Sur you can drive right up to the beach and witness the annual mating rituals of the elephant seals.

McWay Falls at Big Sur at sunset

December through February is the peak of the season when the large males are competing for their mates. It is one of the last remaining stretches of undeveloped coastline in California, mostly because of its rugged nature and the lack of build-able land.

Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur is an incredibly scenic beach