It is claimed to be one of the most beautiful road trip in the world. Different tastes aside, Highway 1 definitely is a spectacular route. It takes you among amazing landscapes and offers breathtaking views, just in the gigantic and colossal American style.

Highway 1 in California (photo by Jonathan Percy)

I came back to California three years after my first experience on the West Coast, aiming to bring remedy to a big mistake: I had not been in Big Sur, and you can’t say you know California if have never been in touch with its wild nature. Highway 1 runs on the Pacific Coast, from San Diego to San Francisco and even further. Beautiful in every aspect, grandiose on the track from San Simeon to Carmel, when it enters the area called Big Sur, a boundless place, a state of mind and soul that kidnaps the travellers with sudden fogs, rocky cliffs on the ocean and the woods’ deep green.

Big Sur (California)

Ninety curvy miles make this an unusual and dangerous road – for American standards – and one of the most scenographic in the world, not just because of the landscape but also for the extraordinary encounters along the way: condors flying over your head, wales seasonly diving in the Pacific’s waters, sea lions hanging on the beach, and the beautiful monarch butterfly, located here in October before continuing their journey from Mexico towards North.

To fully experience the Big Sur, I suggest you to sojourn in this wild area, where electricity only arrived in the second half of 20th century and the few buildings are still covered by layers of thick vegetation. A place where time seems to have stopped and which has been inspirational to musicians and writers, as in Jack Kerouac’s novel “Big Sur”.

Big Sur (California)

The accommodation options aren’t many and during high season you should book in advance to enjoy such a great atmosphere. The simplest and cheapest solution may come from some camping areas, but if you are looking for an intimate and unusual environment you may contact Esalen, a kind of new age institution founded in 1962 where you could even attend holistic workshops, among other activities.

If you don’t have the chance to take a room in Big Sur’s very heart, I warmly suggest to organize your transfers very carefully: you won’t find any gas station on your way and after sunset the street is really dark, the fog is unfathomable and – beside risking your well being – you wouldn’t enjoy the colours and the views that made this road so famous.