Driving the Coast of California – SF to LA

Pacific Coast Highway – Route 1

Highway 01 Drive

You know that California we see in the movies? With people surfing, waves crashing, beautiful beaches and a very relaxing atmosphere. That is how it looked and felt when we drove down  Highway 1 . It is a scenic drive which lets you decide where to turn off for a picnic, or to stop and  watch one of the most amazing sunsets, it is the ideal scenic highway.

It was my sixth day in California and it felt like I had been here for more than two weeks due to the number of things I had been doing and places I had visited. On our sixth day in San Francisco we decided to drive to LA to visit my boyfriend’s sister via the famous Highway 1.

Our first stop was in San Luis Obispo, a beautiful tiny city with some very cute houses and great beaches. We stopped at Splash’s to eat the famous clam chowder soup apparently the best in  California, really enjoyed it.

Cave Landing and Avila Beach (Cave Landing Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401)

Not many people know about this place which is what makes it so special. The Cave Landing, also known as Pirate’s Cove, provides outstanding coastal views over the beach cities of San Luis Obispo County.

Once you get to top there is a large dirt parking area at the end of Cave Landing Road just outside Avila Beach, there are beautiful ocean views from the top. In order to get to the cave you will have to pick up the southbound single track on the left side of the rocky point jutting into the Pacific. After a short distance, there will be a T-junction marked by punched-out metal sign. To the left, a trail descends to Pirate’s Cove, where you can see some beautiful mansions (the pink one my favourite) you may also see naked bathers enjoying this clothing-optional beach.

Cave Landing

Turn right and walk through Pirate’s Cave to the ocean-view balcony on the other side. Peer out over the sheer cliff at the rocky shore below. To the west is the rugged coastline of San Luis Obispo Bay including Whaler’s Rock on the far side of Avila Beach.

Cave Landing

But it wasn’t the cave we were looking for, if you climb down the rocks and go all the way to the bottom there are a few big rocks where you can watch the waves; It is a very peaceful place and we could easily have spent hours there watching the waves. There were also some sea lions there, there was one swimming very close to us and some others on a rock near the beach, so it is possible to take a close look at them.

Cave Landing

After Cave Landing we drove by a few beaches in the area and hit the road again on our way to LA. The drive was so amazing before getting to the coast; we drove through some beautiful hills full of trees. But the best part was when we started driving by the coast, it is hard to believe that there is such a nice drive.

The first beach we stopped by a was called Refugio State Beach. To get to this beach we would usually have to pay 10 dollars as it is also a camping area however as we just wanted to stop there for a few minutes the guy gave us a free pass.

Refugio Beach

It is a small beach but it has a great space for camping, plus they control the number of people that get in so it is never too crowded. I definitely want to go back and camp there at some point.
We were very lucky that day, once we got to the coastal portion of the drive the sun finally came out. Although it was only 1 hour before it set, we made the most of it. We were already late as we stopped many times during our drive but once the sun started setting it was like there was this force not letting us leave the coastal area.

We stopped right before Santa Barbara to watch the sunset, it was a beautiful sunset. It was quite funny as almost every truck or car that was driving by had to stop to watch it. There are many trailers parked in that area and after getting a taste of their good life, we decided that when we retire we might just buy one of those campers and drive around the country.


After a great day, many stops along the way and horrible traffic getting into LA, we finally arrived.

To be continued… Next blog post will be about our day in Los Angeles.

Related Articles

Road Drive: California’s Pacific Coast Highway – National Geographic

Driving California’s Scenic Highway One – EHow

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