What makes Big Sur such a special bucket list destination?


Big Sur is one of California’s most unique coastal landscapes. Its dramatic cliffs offer incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see. Plus, its accommodations range from rustic and cozy to chic and luxurious, offering something for every type of traveler. These, on their own, aren’t what makes Big Sur such a special destination that lands on everyone’s bucket lists, though.

Its location and the nature that surrounds it fuel the magic that many people feel when visiting this coastal region for the first time. Big Sur is a must-see for anyone visiting the California coast, and here’s why it’s so special.

Why should you visit Big Sur in the first place?

With its rugged terrain and often high vacation cost, many people might wonder why Big Sur is so popular in the first place. It may not be so obvious, but the answer is one travelers need to experience to understand. This stretch of coastline sits just between Monterey Bay and San Simeon, not far from Carmel-by-the-Sea. The main focus for those walking there is the Pacific Coast Highway, which is the most scenic in all of California. As if that weren’t enough, many of Big Sur’s hotels, resorts, and restaurants offer sweeping views of the Pacific, with rugged mountain terrain behind them.

However, what draws many people to visit Big Sur isn’t necessarily its scenery, but the sense of calm they achieve upon arrival. Its location allows it to be remote without feeling off the grid, while the culture that surrounds such a place is laid back and peaceful. Travelers can enjoy a meal while watching the sunset from a restaurant terrace or admire the beauty of a misty morning on the Pacific coast from the balcony of their hotel. For beach lovers and those looking for a quiet vacation away from the hustle and bustle of California’s most populated cities, Big Sur is the destination.

Related: Big Sur: Hike to One of the West’s Most Photographed Waterfalls

When is the best time to visit Big Sur?

Like any coastal destination, Big Sur is subject to seasons of good weather and seasons of bad weather. Travelers looking to visit Big Sur have several options since the destination brings the added benefit of more than 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, according to American News. Therefore, visitors can choose to visit during Big Sur’s peak season or wait for the crowds to dwindle during its off-but still enjoyable season.

Visiting Big Sur during peak season

The good news about peak season in Big Sur is that it is extraordinarily long compared to most. Visitors will enjoy pleasant, sunny weather between the months of April and October, with the summer months in between being the most popular. This is when most people take advantage of the warmer waters at the beach, longer days and warmer temperatures. This is also when travelers will notice hotel and resort prices increase, as is often the case during a destination’s high season. This usually lasts until the end of August when fall begins and summer really comes to an end.

  • To summarize: Visiting Big Sur during peak season means booking a vacation between April and October.

Visiting Big Sur during the off season

Some visitors might find traveling to Big Sur off-season to be the most affordable and comfortable option for them. This often means slightly lower prices and decent weather, without the high temperatures that summer brings to the California coast. Plus, not dealing with crowds at beaches or fighting over dinner reservations might be an enticing option for some. From September to November, travelers can enjoy similar benefits to high season with lower costs and fewer crowds. Additionally, December is a month known for great deals on accommodations in Big Sur.

  • To summarize: Visiting Big Sur in the off season means waiting until summer is over and booking a vacation between September and November, with the best month for deals being December.

Tips for Planning Your First Big Sur Vacation

Planning a Big Sur vacation isn’t a complicated process, but there are a few tips travelers should know to make the booking process easier. From researching deals to foreknowledge of insider tips, here are a few ways to further reinforce why Big Sur is such a special place for those seeking California as a destination:

  • The beaches are remote. Rather than finding a beach that’s directly behind a resort, visitors are more likely to walk a trail in order to find the secluded beach they’re looking for — but it’s worth the effort.
  • Know the local flora and be prepared for the wind. It probably goes without saying that a coastal destination is likely to be incredibly windy, but this is something visitors should be aware of. Additionally, poison oak is a common plant found along many trails. Therefore, those who visit the beaches or go hiking should also know what to look for.
  • Saving money is easier than you think. When it comes to transportation, in particular, travelers can save money in Big Sur by opting for the bus. Plus, staying in Monterey is a great way to stay local while saving money, while still being less than 45 minutes from Big Sur.

Whatever reason a traveler might aim for Big Sur, one thing is certain: this special destination is worth listing for a reason. From its beaches to its natural beauty, it offers a vacation experience like no other in California.

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