Known to be one of the most beautiful highway in the US (and the world?), the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as PCH goes from Los Angeles to San Francisco (or the other way around too). It goes along the coast, giving the most magnificent landscapes views over the Pacific.
As we travelled from San Fransisco to the East in order to see Zion National Park, The Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and much more, we took the PCH from LA to SF. Going up.
We left crazy LA that we visited a really short amount of time due to traffic jam in order to sleep somewhere in the mountains, next to a lake. The campground is in Piru. This was the most amazing stop we made. We weren’t expecting it at all. We just wanted to sleep somewhere not too expensive and not too far from LA and the PCH. Well, it took an hour between the campground and the PCH but it was totally worth it.
We went through the mountains at night. Suddenly we saw a gigantic flame coming out of nowhere in the dark. It looked liked a forest fire. I was driving and ready to turn around to call the firemen when we realized it was not a fire at all. It was a gas pump.
After that shock, we found the camping and found a free spot to park. When you arrive at night in campings, usually they ask you to pay the next morning or put your money inside a box. It’s all about trust. It is at that moment that our evening took a turn. Our neighbours started talking to us and invited us to eat with them on their barbecue. It was two guys with their girlfriends and two children. We sat with them and learned they were musicians. We talked a lot and they started playing music. With the fire and s’mores it was magical. I didn’t take any picture that night because I didn’t want to get out of this magical mood. For your information, they were in a band called Herbal Rootz.
It appeared that the camping was well known for summer vacations with boats and fishing.
The next morning we got back on the road, sadly leaving our new friends behind. This is where the PCH really begins.
Who have never heard of Malibu ? Even if you didn’t like the show, I’m sure you did (or you were too young to know it maybe). So of course I was gonna go to Malibu!
I really wasn’t expecting to see the ocean so clear, so turquoise and green and blue. We stopped next to a hill that gives a view on two different sides of Malibu.
On the left, there was a small beach bordered by cliffs where a short movie crew was filming. The water was crazy turquoise and the landscape felt like summer. If you would have told me I was going to the Caribbean, I would have believed you.
When we went down, we saw a seal on the rocks, just a few meters away from us. It was just there, in the nature, getting a tan.
We also saw some big brown pelicans, and when I say some it is more like twenty.
This part of the beach is a reserve and I understand why. I wouldn’t want anybody to ruin it. It is too beautiful.
We then walked around the hill on the water side. And then I saw them. Two dolphins in the water, going around the hill like us. The water was so clear we could see them even if they were deep in the water. For those who know me, you will know the love I have for Dolphins. I had never seen some in liberty so close to the shore. I could have stopped the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) right now it would have been ok.
Further down, we could see the beach of the movie, with the red trucks. Sorry guys, Pamela wasn’t there!
At some point we stopped again to take pictures (and for Alexis to climb) and I was looking at the water when I saw some water go up like a geyser. OHMYGOD. After the Dolphins, there were some whales next to the shore. Well, they were a bit far but we could still see some parts of them with our eyes from the shore! I didn’t know they were whales around there. I wouldn’t have pictured they would come that close.
We then stopped in Santa Barbara. Still very touristic (well, all the road and stops along are very touristic), we were quite surprised when they guys went to the toilets to discover that there were no doors on the public toilets. Otherwise, the beach looked amazing in the sun set.
We slept in a place called Morro Bay. If there is something to know about Morro bay: Don’t go to the mexican restaurant. We had the worse meal ever (but we laugh so much). It was the only one still opened when we arrived (at 7PM..) and there were people inside so we thought it might be good. Well, we know why there were people inside! It took more than one hour to get our meals, we ended up with six glasses of sodas we did not really ordered on the table and the food was not really great in the end.
We slept in the parking lot in front of the Morro bay famous rock because we thought we could. We didn’t see any signs saying otherwise but we were waken up in the middle of the night by the police that told us we should have been there. He left us though because it was almost sunrise and we said we were going to leave early in the morning. What we did.
The sunrise was quite nice. The mist over the water was incredible. We even saw some surfers going for an early swim. I would have guessed it would be a nice surfing spot. The waves seem quite good for it!
We had breakfast in a famous restaurant of Morro Bay called Frank’s and Lola. it is really small but the food is really good and you can eat for two instead of one! If you order the pancakes, order only one for two! My advice.
We wanted to stop after at a famous castle called the Hearst Castle because it is a well known museum and castle on the road but it was way too expensive and it took too long to visit. We would rather see more sun, beaches and be outside than pay a lot and be inside for hours.
The “Windows” Hills
We went back next to the coast to San Simeon where we found hundreds of sea elephants and seals lying on the beach or playing in the water. It was surprising to see that many seals at the same place. It was better to see them there though than to see them on the Pier of San Francisco where they are on 2 square foot. Here they were in the nature. It was almost like being in a zoo… with free animals.
Big Sur (McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, The Bixby Creek Bridge).
Big sur was not done with its surprises. When you say ‘I’m going to Big Sur’, you should say where because it is not a city, it is kind of a district with many attractions inside.
The most famous one would definitely be the McWay Falls. Some people stop when they see the creek because they think this is the main thing to see, and it is beautiful with a lot of colours.
My pictures are unedited for the colours! But you would have to walk less than ten minutes to see the real spot. A view over the water fall going into the creek. The turquoise, the waterfall, the waves… I understand better what people like about California so much.
We stopped for eating at a very famous park called Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. There is a beach you could go but you will have to get there very early if you don’t want to have to walk three to five kilometers to reach it. We stopped inside the park instead where we did a short hike to see a waterfall. The trees are very high, it is quite impressive. We also saw one of the oldest colonial tree who had an incredible large trunk.
One of the famous bridges of the US is also in Big Sur. It is called the Bixby Creek Bridge. It is less impressive when you are on it than it is on pictures actually but it is still a really nice bridge.
Natural Bridges State Beach.
Our last stop before going back to San Jose where Alexis’s friend was was the Natural Bridges State Beach. He loves natural bridges and there was one just right there, on the beach. Occupied by thousands of birds but you could walk or swim to it. I would love to have a beach like that in Normandy.
I loved everything about the PCH except the hundreds of tourists. the closer you get to San Francisco, the more people there are. Though it is totally worth it and I would do it all over again without blinking.
Did you do it? Do you think we missed something on the way? I would love to see some more secret (or not) spots 🙂
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