Californian Coast
Santa Barbara, Cambria & Big Sur

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Santa Barbara, Californian Coast and Big Sur, USA July 18 to 28th 2011

(previous toGrand Canyon) We made it to Santa Barbara and we couldn’t believe how cold it was!  19C during the day, 10 degrees at night.  I was sure there was something wrong with the weather, like the worst temperatures they have seen in years…  Well the true fact is this: the Californian coast is like the Maritimes in Canada or the St-Lawrence River in spring…  Chill winds, foggy, freezing water with whales, sea lions, otters and cold temperatures all year round.  Surfers have full long wetsuits; people have tuques and jackets when they walk on the beach.  Florida is probably warmer in the winter than the
Californian coast in the summer.  Surprised?  Me too!

Our two days in Santa Barbara were pleasant we really enjoyed visiting the Warf and walking on the boardwalk with our fleeces on.  We ate great seafood and saw trendy stores.  Santa Barbara is a place I could definitely live, but forget the warm weather!  We tasted some fabulous wines, as the region is becoming more known for small, organic expensive wines.

We drove 2 hours north along wineries and scenic routes and camped in Montana de Oro State Park for a night.  There, there is a nice bluff with amazing view on the ocean.  While hiking in the morning, we saw a Bob Cat and a mountain lion. Wow!

We drove another 2 hours north and stayed two nights a youth hostel in Cambria, a small coastal town halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Cambria was a nice surprise.  Quiet, peaceful, authentic and really charming.  There isn’t much to do there except taste some more good wines, walk along the coast (with amazing views) and visit a colony of sea elephants living permanently on a deserted beach.

Seeing the sea elephants was a unique experience.  What a bizarre animal!  Ugly nose, gross sounds, and simply big & fatty…  Nevertheless, we spent a good 1.5 hours looking at them sleeping, moving around and sun bathing their mutating skins.  On that day, we also saw seals and whales at a distance.

The Californian 1 road got better and better from Santa Barbara.  As we moved north, we were driving along majestic cliffs, crystal blue waters until we reached the Big Sur
(see coastal pictures here).  There are hardly any places on Earth that compare to Big Sur.  It is the Californian Coast at its best.  The beaches are not phenomenal, but the vistas and scenery points are beyond words.  The sky and water are bluer than what you can imagine and the sky at night with more stars than you ever seen.

We camped 4 nights in the Big Sur.  Our campground was OK, but no showers and no potable water!  So after 4 days, let me tell you a shower never felt so good!.
The Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park was very nice with massive Red Wood trees up to 75m high and 1000 years old!  The campground was green, clean and we had a nice clean river running next to our site (and showers and that site!)


Over all, I can say that the Big Sur Coast was very impressive, with beautiful sceneries, many wild flowers, Californian Condors flying, but very harsh temperatures: foggy, cloudy and very cold at night (9 degrees Celcius). We didn’t expect that for July.

Continue reading to San Francisco

See pictures of Californian Coast here