The Monterey Peninsula is one of the places that surprised us the most on our trip along the pacific coast – the awe-inspiring views, especially along the 17-mile drive. So many stops along the way with every view more breathtaking than the last, this is probably the longest it has taken us to cover 17 miles of tarmac. The drive from San Jose to Monterey takes a little over an hour.
After breakfast at Caramel we headed out to Spanish Bay Beach. The lovely boardwalk takes you through the sandy dunes quickly, but your bare feet will thank you for stepping on the fine white sand. The water was very cold and the rip currents strong, so we just dipped our toes and looked out over the wide blue as a group of surfers enjoyed the bountiful waves.
Our next stop was at The Restless Sea which is one of the most turbulent sections along this stretch of coastline. The waves constantly crash into each other and into a cluster of half submerged rocks, giving the sea an almost frenzied, yet hypnotic quality. The lush sounds of the ocean and the refreshing breeze here will always leave you feeling energized.
At Point Joe, Some of the first sailors to the area thought it to be the entrance to Monterey Bay while the actual entrance is further north. Because of that several shipwrecks were common here, unfortunately. A little further down from Point Joe, is China Rock where back in the 1800s there used to be a Chinese fishing village.
Seal Rock,is a long narrow sandy beach at the mouth of Seal Rock Creek. You will likely hear the Sea Lions before you see them as they can get loud.
Bird rock is another famous stop along the 17 mile drive. This large solitary rock is like a bird magnet. Look out towards it any time of day, and you’ll certainly see a large flock of birds perched on top, with harbor seals and belching sea lions enjoying the spray of the gentle waves. On good days, this entire rock is covered in a mosaic of these fascinating sea creatures.
The iconic Lone Cypress vista offers an opportunity for the most scenic pictures. Here stands a roughly 250 year old Monterey Cypress and for the last 65 years, cables have held it in place. A manmade retention wall secures the roots, attempting to preserve what has become an iconic symbol of Monterey’s beauty. And if you love succulents, they’re found all over the Monterey peninsula, and in every imaginable kind, size, shape. It’s an absolute paradise to a succulent aficionado! When you’ve got these babies, who needs grass anyways?
Our next stop was at Pescadero Point where Erie blanched, barren cypress Ghost Tree dot the landscape including one dubbed The Witch Tree. There are reported sightings of a ghost here – a Lady in Lace wandering through the fog. Maybe she keeps coming back for the killer views?
There are over 21 points of interest and even more incredible sights and vistas to explore around the 17-mile drive. No matter how many times you return it’s ever-gorgeous, breath-taking, and springs you with new wonders!