Sights from ‘el sur grande’ or Big Sur

This was the 'big south country' that lay south of Monterey Bay and was defined by its wilderness and its notorious jagged coast. It neither helped the vessels that sailed that way nor the people who wanted to take the land route down south.
Sights from Big Sur, Californa


A long-time ago, there was a place known as el pais grande del sur on California’s Central coast. This was the ‘big south country’ that lay south of the Monterey Bay area and was defined by its wilderness and its notorious jagged coast. It neither helped the vessels that sailed that way nor the people who wanted to take the land route down south.

That was in the 1800’s. In the early 20th century,  this mountainous area was gifted with a paved route that connected the area to the rest of the state of California. History says it took 18 years to construct the road that runs on the western slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains. This route between Carmel and San Simeon has been open to the public in the late 1930s. But it was only toward the end of February in 2013 that we first decided to drive through (Yeah, call it a long-overdue-post. Where’s that sheepish-grin-emoji?). The road that we talk about is now part of the world famous California State Route 1. Tourists to the state call it Pacific Coast Highway. But we prefer to refer to it as ‘Highway 1.’ The stretch of Highway 1 shows you more dramatic drops into the Pacific Ocean rather than the beaches that you see in other parts of this seaside road.

Now Highway 1 is not the fastest route to the southern part of Califonia, but it is definitely is the most scenic one.  And it is without a doubt, a grand experience for everyone who takes delight in a scenic drive, leave alone seaside drives.

Sights from Big Sur, Californa

Somewhere near the beginning of the Big Sur drive.

Sights from Big Sur, Californa

California’s jagged coast and the Pacific Ocean from a view point in Big Sur

Highway 1, Big Sur

Highway 1 or California State Route 1 meandering through Big Sur.

The area is now called Big Sur and I’d say it is the quintessential California coast. It treated us to miles of rocky coast, thousands of California’s state trees – the redwoods, and seemingly endless views of the Pacific Ocean. This highway that snakes around the craggy coast of the wild Santa Lucia allowed us to drive at a speed that let us absorb the natural loveliness of the region. However, there were several turn-out points too, where we stopped, stepped out, felt the sea breeze and captured frames after frames of the spectacular sights around.

I lost count of the number of bridges we passed; there were so many creeks emptying themselves in the Pacific. Now, the most famous bridge is one called Bixby Creek Bridge or simply Bixby Bridge. It is a big attraction on the route. I’d seen photographs of this structure in several travel brochures and magazines that carry stories about Big Sur but we missed the overlook that was closest to the bridge. So we stopped at another vista point around another bend that jutted out to sea and I managed to get a shot of the bridge, although it is only partially visible.

Bixby Bridge

The famous Bixby Bridge

We spotted the Point Sur Lighthouse that stands on a hillock out at sea, had a picnic at Pfeiffer State Park and went for a small hike along the Big Sur Creek before we set further south to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to catch sight of something that is not too common around here — a waterfall that falls right into a small beach and splashes into the tides that come in.

Big Sur, California

Pacific Coast, Big Sur

Big Sur, California

California’s rocky coast in Big Sur

Point Sur

Point Sur Lighthouse

Pfeiffer State Park, Big Sur

Pfeiffer State Park

Big Sur Creek

Big Sur Creek

Near McWay Falls

The path to the McWay Falls Overlook

McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Mc Way Fall - a Tide Fall in Big Sur

McWay Falls is a ‘tide fall’ one of the few falls that plunge right into the ocean.

After spending some time at the end of the trail that showed us this waterfall called the McWay Fall, we decided to call it a day, even though we had been to only half of Big Sur. On our drive back north, we watched the sun go down and felt very fortunate for another drive beside the Great Pacific and for so many absolutely-gorgeous sights along the way.

Big Sur at dusk
Some other places to see on the central coast :
Another must-do in the area —

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26 Comments on this post.
  • umashankar
    7 September 2017 at 7:00 pm
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    The way you have written the post woven with images of Big Sur, I felt like meandering out there feeling the sea breeze on my face. Thanks!

    • dNambiar
      8 September 2017 at 9:43 am
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      It was such a beautiful drive; a coming-together of the mountainous coast and the great Pacific.
      Thank YOU for being such a wonderful reader, USP. 🙂

  • Indrani
    7 September 2017 at 7:36 pm
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    Good to know that bit of history.
    Those are impressive bridges. How well they connect, something we lack in India. The roads in the hills here are so scary I dread driving along them.

    • dNambiar
      8 September 2017 at 9:49 am
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      Before we planned this trip, I didn’t know how wild and cut off this part of the Californian coast had been before this stretch of the coastal highway came into being. There are still very limited commercial properties around there so it’s still quite unspoiled. 🙂

      Same here, I’m not comfortable driving through blind curves. When we do trips like this, I’m just in the passenger seat playing navigator and photographer. 😉

  • Maitreni Mishra
    7 September 2017 at 10:15 pm
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    Omg! Such picturesque locations.. the bridges are one of a kind… loved all the shots <3

    • dNambiar
      8 September 2017 at 9:54 am
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      It is a very picturesque coastline, like a lot of other coasts.

      What seems to give this stretch of the California’s coast its character are the steep drops into the Pacific Ocean. And that seaside mountain range is still pretty wild and beautiful.

      Thank you so much, dear Maitreni. I hope you girls had a lovely birthday; I read the poem your mom wrote. 🙂

  • Animesh Bordoloi
    8 September 2017 at 2:43 am
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    The Mcway falls look so amazing. Nice post, and good job posting it even though it was long overdue. Kudos!

    • dNambiar
      8 September 2017 at 9:59 am
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      First of all, welcome here, Animesh. 🙂

      A waterfall cascading onto a beach or ocean is not something you see very often, right? Even though there wasn’t a whole lot of water gushing down, McWay Falls was quite a sight, and unique too. I’d never seen a tide fall before.

      Thank you so much, Animesh. I’d been holding on to it and feeling guilty for not publishing it. And for the last few months, a part of this highway was closed owing to some damage the winter storms did to the area earlier this year. As such, I kept putting it off some more. 😀

  • Jyotirmoy Sarkar
    8 September 2017 at 5:16 am
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    Mesmerizing captures, beautiful place.

    • dNambiar
      8 September 2017 at 5:55 pm
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      Thank you, Jyotirmoy. Yeah, it’s beautiful. 🙂

  • Rajeev Moothedath
    8 September 2017 at 5:30 am
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    Lovely Pics!

    • dNambiar
      8 September 2017 at 5:55 pm
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      Thank you, Rajeev. 🙂

  • magiceye
    8 September 2017 at 7:03 pm
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    Gorgeous landscapes!

  • Rajat
    9 September 2017 at 8:20 pm
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    so wonderful to have a walk through history of this place…

    • dNambiar
      10 September 2017 at 12:48 pm
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      I’m glad you like it, Rajat.
      Welcome here. 🙂

  • Neha
    10 September 2017 at 4:15 am
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    Beautiful Pictures.. I dream of visiting the Big Sur one day

    • dNambiar
      10 September 2017 at 12:49 pm
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      Thank you, Neha.
      It’s quite a sight. I hope you get to see the area sometime soon.

      Hey, and welcome to Tipsy from the TRIP. Do come back. 🙂

  • Rajesh
    10 September 2017 at 9:57 pm
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    Wonderful views.

    • dNambiar
      13 September 2017 at 11:29 pm
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      I agree. 🙂

  • Alok Singhal
    12 September 2017 at 3:23 am
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    Exactly the trip we took last year, but the other way around. I must say the McWay falls were a sheer delight to see as were the bluish waters all along the coast. The drive is worth the extra distance.

    Did you go to Oxnard? That is a good location to stay overnight further south (not too far from LA).

    • dNambiar
      13 September 2017 at 11:33 pm
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      Oh, so you guys drove north. 🙂
      McWay Falls was one of my favourite sights from the route, not only because it was such a pretty picture but because it was the first time I was seeing a tide fall.

      Oh yes — so worth it. 🙂

      Oxnard, No. But I will look out for it next time. I think it’s time to go that way again. I’ve made a note of the recommendation. Thank you so, so much, Alok. 🙂

  • joshi daniel
    12 September 2017 at 9:52 am
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    beautiful and great view 🙂

    • dNambiar
      13 September 2017 at 11:40 pm
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      Great views, indeed.
      Thank you for stopping by, Joshi.

  • Rahul
    14 September 2017 at 10:47 pm
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    A delight to read an satiate visual senses, Divya!

    • dNambiar
      15 September 2017 at 12:23 am
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      Thank you so much, Mr. Bhatia. 🙂

    Leave a Reply



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