I will admit that Matt and I didn't know much about Big Sur, the name given to the stretch of coastline just south of Monterey, before we got to California... but now we know! I felt so stupid for having no clue just how amazing this huge stretch of land is. When you live on the opposite side of the country you just don't hear about it that often.
We left Costanoa Lodge pretty early in the morning to get on the road and by mid day I was already in love. By sundown, I was in disbelief that the day was coming to a close. I wish we would have left before sunrise! There are so many amazing places to pull off the road and just admire the beautiful landscape. So please please learn from my mistake and get on the road as early as you possibly can if you are going to attempt to see all Big Sur has to offer in one day.
We traveled through Big Sur by simply driving down Highway 1. Couldn't have been simpler. It's roughly 85 miles but, since you will be stopping a lot, make sure you schedule enough time for it. In my opinion, one day was way too short; I definitely wish we had stretched it over two days. Also make sure you plan ahead, as we basically had no service when traveling through Big Sur. Lastly, if you do stretch out your trip over a couple days, know ahead of time that hotels in the big sur region are expensive (think $300-$1000 a night). Staying right out of the region is a great option for a ton cheaper. We drove to a small town an hour outside of L.A. and stayed in yet another cheap motel.
It's hard to recall everything we did that day, as it's such a blur now. Traveling on Highway 1, we crossed the incredible Bixby Creek Bridge which was built in 1932. We were so stunned that we forgot to even get a picture. It is a gorgeous concrete bridge not only due to its surroundings but also the design of the bridge itself. We stopped for a hike around midday at the McWay Falls, an 80 ft waterfall that flows year round.
I also want to point out that all the pictures above were taken on an iPhone, with no filters or saturation added. The colors of Big Sur are really that beautiful, I swear I could've taken pictures with a flip phone from 2005 and they would've been amazing. We finished our day by watching the sunset and Elephant seals at the Elephant Seal Rookery, which is located at the southern end of big sur. If you go between November and January like we did there will be tons of baby elephant seals all over the beach and also you will be able to hear the mating calls from the huge male seals. Unfortunately for us, it was already past sundown when we got there so we couldn't get any pictures, but we'll be ready next time we return, and we most certainly will!