After Carmel we took the Coastal Drive down through Big Sur. This area is still relatively underdeveloped and this can make the scenery quite dramatic in places. Try to picture the big waves roaring in from the Pacific Ocean breaking on one side whilst driving on a winding road that weaves around the cliff edges of the Santa Lucia mountains on the other side – awesome!!! there are also quite a few turnout points where you can stop and take pictures. We stopped off at quite a few points as did many of the other tourists – so be careful as these little turnout points can get busy with vehicles driving in and out trying to negotiate past lots of people posing for photos.
Just before reaching San Simeon and the famous Hearst Castle we stopped off at the southern end of Big Sur at Piedras Blancas. This spot is well known for being home to a large colony of Elephant Seals. You can park up and walk to the Vista Points and get some really good views of the seals all relaxing on the beach soaking up some rays and flipping sand on themselves. The Elephant Seals use this rookery throughout the year for breeding, birthing, moulting and resting.
Arriving in San Simeon we headed up to Hearst Castle – which everyone said was a ‘must see’ on our trip down the coast. Hearst Castle was built by newspaper magnet William Randolph Hearst who when commissioning the architect for the project famously said “I would like to build a little something”. The castle sits on what Hearst called ‘ The Enchanted Hill’ and he spent years building his collection of art and furniture from all over the world. The finished result is an opulent and very eclectic mish mash of styles and periods all thrown together in a building which looks like a Spanish hacienda/cathedral with a large outdoor pool and acres of landscaped grounds. We had been looking forward to seeing the splendour and beauty of the pool but unfortunately it was drained of water and had scaffolding round it as there was some repairs being done. You have to go on a guided tour to see the castle and they have separate tours for different parts of the building so the cost could be quite steep if you want to see it all.