Home | About MESA | Contact MESA | Seaweek | Site Resources | Marine Links | International News | MESA History
  International Marine Education    

Elephant seals at Piedras Blancas

State Park and the Big Sur
The Big Sur – July 6

Tuesday, July 6th was a big day of travel along one of the most famous coastal roads in the world. We were driving north from Santa Barbara to Monterey, passing through such legendary (and not so well known) places as Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, Jade Cove, Julia Pfeiffer Burns .

We started after breakfast at Sambo’s and the first part of the trip north took us inland on Interstate 101. It was then back to the coast at Pismo Beach (featured in Bugs Bunny cartoons), Highway 1 and over 100 miles (160 km) of breathtaking views. Highway 1 clings precariously to a steep, plunging coastline in a way that makes Victoria’s Great Ocean Road look tame.

The shore is accessible in only a few places and for most of the drive we were winding high above the kelp forests that fringe the shore.

The Big Sur and a waterfall at
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

A docent at the Piedras Blancas

Marine life is in abundance at the few places you are able to get down to the shore. My favourites are the sea otters that hang about in the kelp fronds that cover the water’s surface close to shore. Both sea otters and northern elephant seals were almost hunted to extinction but are now returning to the Californian shores in numbers.

The northern elephant seals were once wiped out on the mainland beaches but can now be seen on beaches such the beach at Piedras Blancas (just north of Pismo Beach). We stopped at Piedras Blancas to see the elephant seals there, mainly young males just beginning to moult.

As is the case in most of the USA, the interpretation program here was run by docents (volunteer educators).


Just before 7 pm we rolled into Monterey and our accommodation for the next two nights, Hostel International Monterey. In the past I have found accommodation in Monterey very expensive, especially if you want to be close to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. HI Monterey is relatively new, clean, inexpensive and just a coupe of blocks from the Aquarium. For any Aussies wanting to visit Monterey Bay Aquarium and other local attractions, we can strongly recommend HI Monterey.

Related web sites

Another Big Sur beach treasure,
beach-washed by-the-wind sailors

Search site

   Contact Web Manager © MESA 1999 - 2015
0.00000 secs   
     SpiderByte Web Design Top