Most people know me for my paintings of Big Sur. It is my favorite place to paint where I always find inspiration to paint the wild and rugged coastline. Views, rocks and waves of the endless pacific ocean draw me back, as I always find something new to explore and to paint.
I am dazzled by the 90 mile long stretch of California Coastline, my jaw drops each time seeing the mountains raise straight out of the sea with huge waves and empty lineups - a surf term - for nobody surfing the waves.
Big Sur waves are not the most friendly and safe waves to surf, but when they are on - they are incredible waves, with unforgettable scenery.
Watching sunset from a surfer's point of view, immersed in the water, is an experience itself - it's like someone threw a bucket of paint at the sky, water and mountain.
This is my favorite place to paint. Picture perfect locations along the Big Sur coastline are perfect for plein-air paintings and it has fun places to visit and explore.
The good news
For some this maybe a bad news, but there is no internet connection in Big Sur. Silicon Valley gadgets will never interrupt your tour of Big Sur.
How to get there
Coming from South: Best route is Highway 5 -> 46 over Lost Hills -> 41 -> Pacific Highway, or you can take Highway 101 -> 1 but either way you will end up in Cambria.
"Some" drivers are looking ... everywhere but the road, or cross the lane to park to the sea side of the road to enjoy Big Sur. Keep an eye on them and slow down around sharp turns just in case someone just decided to cross the lane on purpose, or by not paying attention.
The one-lane winding road can make you really tired make sure you have plenty of time to get through Big Sur, or just park and rest a bit.
Slow down, there are bicyclist on the road that can pop in front of you anytime.
Take note that Big Sur has a lots of poison ivy, get familiar with the plant, and be sure to bring itchy cream for poison ivy just in case.
If you are planning to hike, wear full clothing (cover your shoulders and feet), when ticks are in season they are all over the place. You wouldn’t believe how many times I saw hikers in flip-flops and shorts walking through fields that I knew were full of ticks and poison ivy ... I don't think they read my post :-)
Word of advice: If you have a convertible you may want to consider keeping the top on ... I know, the whole purpose of convertible is to enjoy the Big Sur with an open air. Here is the deal - I hear clicks on the top of my car occasionally driving through Big Sur. Some of the rocks get loose and keep falling. This is not throughout the Big Sur, only few sections, but still something for you to consider ...
Is a charming town with antiques shops, restaurants, definitely stop by and enjoy Linn's Restaurant - their pies and food are great. We stock up on food for camping at Cookie Crock Market.
Gas prices are high, but you don't have much alternatives - you are in Big Sur.
If you want to stay the night, best hotels along the Moonstone Beach Drive, prices are higher but the experience you get from sleeping this close to the beach is worth every penny.
A bonus - beautiful, well maintained path along the beach with plenty of access to the beach and spots for plein-air paintings.
San Simeon State Park -
If you are going camping and want to stay longer around Cambria, this park has it all, well maintained with access to the beach. They have plenty spaces, but book ahead during the holidays.
Just walk under the bridge and you are ready to paint.
Ragged Point –
Walk around and take few shots it has one of the most beautiful views. Hotel has amazing views. The burgers are awesome. The place has a gas station.
Place is inspiring for paintings from up above.
Plasket Creek –
This park has surfing, hiking, fishing, and swimming – and of course perfect for plein-air artists – just walk down to Sand Dollar Beach. Campground is across a street if this is an option for you, note that spaces are limited.
Kirk Creek and Limekiln Parks –
They are about 10 minutes apart from each other and offer access to the beach, both parks are well run, but spots are limited, especially in Limekiln.
Limekiln has a warm shower if that’s something you must have. The place offers some beautiful hikes.
Big Sur Bakery -
Their pastries, cookies, pies are just simply unbelievable - but be beware supplies are limited, if you get there past 11 AM good luck finding the "best" goodies. On weekends, especially holiday be there no later than 9AM (bakery opens at 8AM). There is cool souvenir shop around the corner, and down the street you can get supplies and pizza. If you are out of gas - this is a good place to refuel.
Pfeiffer Beach –
The moment you pull out of the bakery, and continue driving north for about 2 minutes, slow down you are going to take a first left on an unmarked road leading you to Pfeiffer Beach – talking about a most beautiful beach in the world. This is the place many photographers in winter fight (literally) for taking a perfect shot, when sun peeking through the rock opening lights up the opening. There is an entry fee, and note that you can’t get there with a big RV. Best time to go is for the sunset.
Garrapata State Park –
This is probably one of the most accessible and picturesque place along the coast. This is where me and my wife got married. This is the eye candy of the sea, rocks, waves - absolutely an amazing place.
POINT LOBOS STATE PARK -
Drive all the way to the last parking lot - and go on a hike - it has the most amazing sunsets. Picture perfect - you will find endless inspirations for your plein-air works.
I'll be adding more information this post. Let me know of any other places in Big Sur you would like me to write about and I'll keep adding to this post, or suggest edits.