The drive from LA to Monterey is a long trek but well worth it. This was by far our favorite drive of the trip. We left LA around 12pm on Saturday from the Ghetty Museum. We probably should have left a little earlier considering this almost 7-hour drive. If you enjoy nature and breathtaking views this is the scenic drive for you. After stopping in Calabasas for lunch we were ready to hit the road with the top down. The drive hugs the coast with views of the Los Padres National Forest. Check the weather before you make this drive as it wouldn’t be fun driving this on a rainy or foggy day. Very windy roads with multiple cliffs. We lucked out basically our whole 10 days out West with no rain and almost perfect weather.
You will know when you hit Big Sur from the multiple vista point stops with breathtaking views of cliffs, crashing waves and blue Pacific Ocean. You will not have service during this drive so make sure to map out exactly where you want to stop. We learned this the hard way. Some recommended stops to spend time would be the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where you can see a beautiful waterfall flowing on to the beach. Near Carmel by the Sea, we watched the sun set and the Point Sur lighthouse.
After pulling into Monterey Bay that night we decided to cancel our reservations at the Montrio Bistro and opt for some room service at our hotel – Portola Resort & Spa. The hotel is in a great area in town. Right on the Bay and near a lot of restaurants and shops. We were thankful for the location when making our 7am Whale Watching Tour – a must do in Monterey Bay. We recommend the Monterey Bay Whale Watch in Fisherman’s Wharf. Monterey has one of longest whale-watching season’s in California- basically lasts all year. An underwater canyon, under the protection of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is another reason that makes this location the best to watch whales and other marine life. Some species often seen around Monterey include killer whales (orcas), gray whales, humpback whales, blue whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and Dall’s porpoises. Our particular tour counted 25 humpback whales and a few gray whales. Courtney even saw a humpback whale breech the water but unfortunately only got the splash on camera. We also saw an Albatross, the largest seabird and among the largest flying birds with a wingspan of six feet.
Make sure to dress warm for these tours. I was very happy that I packed a pair of gloves and a warm jacket. It is very cold off the coast. Also, make sure to take some Dramamine if you get sea sick. Most tours offer it in their gift shop. Also, the earlier the tour the less rough the seas are.
After lunch at Café Fina in Fisherman’s Wharf we hit the road to San Francisco. We recommend stopping at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, CA. A great little beach town with natural rock formations just off shore and the last remaining natural bridges in the area. We spent some time here walking up the coast.
Next Blog Post – San Francisco. Thanks for reading!
📷 by Courtney