The beauty of Big Sur; San Francisco (California) to San Diego (California)

Leg; 719 miles / 1,157 km
Total; 5,220 miles / 8,401 km

(Check out our Instagram page for photos of this leg and regular pictorial updates)

We left San Francisco feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Our first stop was Half Moon Bay, where we camped right on the beach and got robbed by raccoons, for the second time this trip!! A couple of young raccoons had worked out we had muffins and when we tried to shoo them away they just scold at us. They returned at 4am, and yet again came into the tent to see if we’d left any more tasty morsels out!

We carried on to Santa Cruz where we visited some of the Lost Boys film shoot locations and hung out at the famous Boardwalk with our Warm Showers hosts Keresha and Chris. The ride down to Monterey was a bit awkward and when we got there we had to climb a steep hill to get to the Veterans Memorial Park campground. The park was a bit sketchy and we got woken up in the middle of the night by some human ‘racoons’ scavenging through the food lockers. We were lucky our stuff was in a black bag, and therefore not very visible, as a fellow cycle tourer sadly had his belongings stolen. This was the first time we’d felt unsafe at a campground and we would strongly recommend cycle tourers DO NOT stay at this site. Especially as the Ranger couldn’t care less!

We were warned that the next stretch through Big Sur would be difficult as recent fires had disseminated the area and most campgrounds were closed. Most people we talked to at Monterey said they were going inland to increase their chances of getting a campsite. We decided to risk it and it paid off as when we got to the awesome Andrew Molera State Park we had the place to ourselves. There are no showers at this remote spot but we cycled down to the beach and bathed in the freshwater inlet.

The next two days, cycling up and down the many hills of the Big Sur coastline, where a real highlight of our trip. Despite the recent fires, the area is still lush with vegetation and the dramatic drops to the ocean give you unobscured views for miles. We met many incredible people on this stretch, including a Doctor from England who is good friends with someone Chris knows from Plymouth! And an amazing couple who were taking their 1959 Austin Healey out for its annual spin!! Coming out of Big Sur we saw the incredible site of battling sea lions in a culvert by the highway, and more suprisingly, a herd of zebras in the grounds of Hearst Castle.

Sticking with highway 1, we continued south through Pismo beach and Gaviota beach down to Santa Barbara, where we spend a couple of relaxing days with our generous Warm Showers host. In the past 14 months, Michael has hosted over 200 cycle tourers! Well rested we followed the coast down to Los Angeles, along the incredible beach bike paths. We booked accommodation in Venice Beach because we knew the coastal paths would be good but we thought cycling in the city would be mayhem. We got curious however and decided to cycle to Ties’s friend in Hollywood via Rodeo Drive. We couldn’t believe how cycle friendly LA was and ended up cycling about 40 miles around this awesome city.

From LA we cycled down to Long Beach via Rancho Palos Verdes. The road around the peninsula was breathtaking but negotiating the Port of LA was a nightmare! We certainly wouldn’t recommend that… We stayed on as many bike paths as we could down to San Diego, where we ‘camped’ in a bed someone had set up in their garden! Very California!!