The California Travel Diaries | Monterey to Big Sur

Welcome back to another installment of the California Travel Diaries! A collection of blog posts from my Summer 2018 travels that I hope will help you plan any future trips, as well for me to remember exactly what I did! California is full of so many hidden gems. Golden beaches where the sun shines so bright, you can’t help but smile as you to stop to admire the bold crashing waves. Although some beaches are much too dangerous to swim in, the Pacific Ocean offers stunning views; a treat for drivers who can follow the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), giving a whole new meaning to the term “road trip”. If you’re following this thread you’ll know that at this point my boyfriend and I had just completed our day’s hike in Yosemite. Following this we got some much needed R & R in Fresno, where we experienced our first touch of the Californian heatwave and enjoyed some delicious authentic Mexican food at a family run restaurant called,”Hacienda Tequila”. Feeling rejuvenated after this break, we made the journey to perhaps one of my most anticipated stops on this road trip – Monterey. The PCH begins in San Francisco and if you are planning a trip to California I’d highly recommend that you prioritize this drive on your list. Even if you decide to only follow just a portion of the PCH, like we did, you will definitely not be disappointed.

If the town Monterey doesn’t instantly sound familiar to you, then think again. The town’s aquarium was the inspiration behind the film of Finding Dory and some of Big Little Lies was actually filmed upon location!

The Aquarium was a must see on our list but do note, there aren’t any whales here (as we mistakenly thought). Shows and talks are available with fantastic educational exhibits sharing the amazing research that is conducted here. We had so much fun throughout the day as we as saw the otters play, feeding time for the penguins and mesmerizing jelly fish.

The Basics

Weather: The weather in June was a cool 18 degrees. Monterey is based by the sea meaning you have that fresh sea breeze coming in, so I would definitely recommend a light jacket to hand. That way you can easily layer up when you feel the chill!

Accommodation: It’s true what they say, beauty does come at a price. For us this meant that we decided to book an Airbnb about 30 minutes away from Monterey in a town called Salinas. Unfortunately, our hosts made us feel quite uncomfortable with so many rules (no wheeling the suitcases over the floor, don’t use the shower after 10pm, you can only eat your food in your room, you cannot use the kitchen, leave your shoes under the chair in the kitchen when you enter… it was all very strange). This did however motivate us to really make the most out of our day trip; every cloud has it’s silver lining!

Parking: Fortunately we could park our car by our Airbnb for free. Parking rates for Monterey was about $15 for the day.

See & Do

  • Monterey Aquarium
  • Lovers Point Park
  • Old Fisherman’s Wharf

Eat & Drink

  • Wharf Chocolate Factory
  • Cannery Row Brewing Co
  • Sly McFly’s
  • Paluca Trattoria

Me at Lovers Point Park

We then took a stroll beside the beach, where we once again saw sea-lions sunbathing (love how common this is in Cali!). We took the route towards Lovers Point Park which is both an idyllic family fun area and a romantic location (above). Here there is also a stunning rocky landscaped area; a unique spot where you can watch the sun rise over the ocean. We did decide to climb the rocks, but beware, this requires steady footing! However you do get a fantastic view of Monterey Bay.

We also ventured to Old Fisherman’s Wharf, a small area of restaurants and eateries. I bought a famous frozen chocolate covered banana that was as delicious as it sounds! If you wish to pop in for alcoholic beverage whilst in Monterey, I would recommend either Cannery Row Brewing Co or Sly McFly’s. We paid about $22 for two drinks (including tip). For dinner it was an obvious choice that we would dine at the Big Little Lie’s Restaurant, Paluca Trattoria. Overlooking the fabulous view of the Marina, we each enjoyed a delicious Italian pasta dish.

Monterey Harbor

The next day we visited the picturesque town of Carmel-By-The-Sea, another famous stop along the PCH. Famous for it’s 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach with 17 vista points ranging from ocean views to marvellous golf courses. You can drive or cycle around this route, seeing breathtaking nature of vibrant hues like the below. N.B. You have to pay about $10 to enter by car but it’s free to cycle.


A snap from the 17 Mile Drive

We also visited the town itself, stopping off in the Plaza to sample some Cheese in the aptly named, “The Cheese Shop”. After browsing a few of the stores we then headed to one of the most famous PCH views of Bixby Bridge in Big Sur.


Big Sur is an area that is described as more of a “State of Mind” than a place. I think that the saying, “A photo speaks a 1000 words” perfectly sums up this panoramic shot of Big Sur.

I could never have pictured how breathtakingly beautiful and unforgettable these 2 days in Monterey to Big Sur could be. If you are ever in two minds of whether travel is something you should do, I can tell you that even over these first 11 days, it was so worth it and we still had another 33 to go…!

If you enjoyed this blog post you should subscribe and read:

The California Travel Diaries: Sonoma and Napa

The California Travel Diaries: Yosemite

The California Travel Diaries: Welcome to San Francisco

A Not So Blue Monday








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