From our hotel, we only had to drive a block north to get to one of the very few roads that headed west to the Pacific Coast Highway. It was this road or some pretty serious wilderness if we had ventured any further South.
The road cut across the San Andreas fault which I thought was pretty cool. (My wife would not have agreed!)
It did not take too long to reach the coast at Half Moon Bay. It was a cool, cloudy day but it was great to be out of the busy city environment and finally on the famous Pacific Coast Highway – and what better way to travel it in a vintage VW Beetle!
Our first stop was San Gregorio State Beach. Sara was dying to get out and jump around.
We actually had to turn on the heater in the Bug to take the chill out of the air. I wasn’t sure it would work, but it did perfectly. Once again I had memories of that unique Bug heater smell.
We stopped at Pigeon Point where they have a Lighthouse and Hostel. I had to change from shorts into jeans in the parking lot – I had not realized how cool it can be at the coast in Northern California.
While we wanted to take the time to stop at interesting places, I was also concerned that we had a lot of road to travel to get to Santa Monica before nightfall. We spent some time taking pictures at Pigeon Point, then headed to our next stop – Santa Cruz. Sara and I are huge ‘Lost Boys’ fans, so we HAD to visit the Santa Cruz boardwalk where a lot of the movie was filmed back in 1987.
The Santa Cruz boardwalk opened in 1907 and is the oldest amusement park in California and is home to an historic Looff Carousel that was in the film.
We spent some time exploring the boardwalk and bought a couple of Santa Cruz t-shirts.
After Santa Cruz, our next stop was the 17-Mile drive around the Monterey peninsula and the world famous Pebble Beach, then a must-do pub lunch at Clint Eastwood’s Hog’s Breath Inn in Carmel.
We really enjoyed the atmosphere and the food (and Beer!) We sat in an outside courtyard patio that had an amazing mural painted on one wall. It was a great stop, and to our delight, after lunch the sun came out and the chill was gone.
Without a doubt the most scenic part of the Pacific Coast drive is Big Sur.
By now, I was getting used to driving the Bug, and it performed admirably on this challenging terrain.
Pushing on, we rounded a bend and saw a beach with lots of something on it. “Are they seals?” I asked.
They were. We had reached the Piedras Blancas Seal Rookery. We stopped there and got a pretty neat treat. It’s not everyday you get to see that many seals in the wild all in one place.
We had been on the road for over 12 hours (including stops) and were still a long way from Santa Monica.
We stopped for a stretch at an old abandoned bridge that once carried the Pacific Coast Highway north of Santa Barbara.
We were in the home stretch, but the sun was going down and we were getting tired.
We pushed on, the old Bug just faithfully rolling along. We missed the angled cut-off for the Pacific Coast highway in Oxnard and ended up driving through what seemed like endless Auto Parts stores, Used Car lots and red lights that did not cooperate. We were not very impressed with Oxnard.
I had hoped to be able to stop in Malibu, but it was dark and we were running late. We called the Motel to make sure they knew we would be there around 10:30pm or 11.
We had a quick gas / washroom stop in Malibu and then it was a ‘follow the taillights’ kind of drive along the twisty coast to Santa Monica. We eventually pulled up to the Seashore Motel after 15 hours on the road.
The Seashore Motel in Santa Monica is a well kept motel, two blocks from the beach that we felt was in keeping with our whole retro theme. With a neat little courtyard and just two floors of authentic motel rooms, this family run business was perfect.
In true retro fashion they even still have the old key and motel tag!
We settled in for the night, pleased that our long coast drive had been a success.