Better* than Big Sur

Point Lobos Natural Reserve

Before we get to the meat of the matter we should probably address that title asterisk first – Better*

We concede that if you’re looking only for postcard perfect beauty, you might not find anywhere on the west coast “better” than Big Sur, California. In fact, you may not find anywhere on the planet that could make that claim. But if you’re at all interested in factors other than just raw beauty, Point Lobos might have Big Sur beat.

That’s not to say Point Lobos isn’t beautiful. Located just to the north of Big Sur, this state natural reserve shares the same dramatically rocky coastline as its sibling to the south. Famed landscape artist Francis McComa even called the area “The greatest meeting of land and water in the world.”

Point Lobos Natural Reserve2

It also happens to be far more accessible than the miles of isolation known as Big Sur. Adjoining California’s quaint Carmel by the Sea, Point Lobos is just a few quick miles from cafes, art galleries, and – of course – internet connectivity. Another ten minute drive north delivers you into Monterey with its renowned aquarium and historic Cannery Row.

But what put Point Lobos over the top for us were its miles of easy walking trails. Whereas much of Big Sur is experienced from highway overlooks, Point Lobos is best explored on foot.

Glad to be out of the car we took our time meandering from high bluffs to secluded beaches and tidal pools. We scrambled over rocks, strolled well worn paths, and spent a long while spying on the antics of the sea otters who call this nature reserve home.

Point Lobos Natural Reserve Sea Otter

And when the trail turned away from the sea it led us, surprisingly, through the most remarkable place of all: a fairytale forest of rare and twisted Monterey Cypress trees coated in orange algae set ablaze by the afternoon sun. It’s like nothing else we’ve ever seen anywhere else on earth.

Point Lobos Cypress Grove Trail

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12 Comments on “Better* than Big Sur”

  1. lidipiri May 24, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Wow. Been to Big Sur so many times, yet never thought that so close there was this!!! Thanks for bringing it to me. Will definitely visit the next time!


  2. Betty Londergan May 24, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    I LOVE Point Lobos — it’s one of my favorite places on the planet, full of twists and turns, spectacular views, those crazy twisted trees, and of course … those ocean views! So happy to see your photos!


  3. Animalcouriers May 24, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Those orange trees are magical.


  4. BMatthews May 24, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Thanks for letting us tag along. …how many miles do you have on your motorhome?


  5. Susan Johnson May 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Where do you camp there????


    • Brian May 26, 2013 at 2:03 am #

      We didn’t stay at Point Lobos. I think we may have visited either from Big Sur Campground & Cabins or from Cotillion Gardens RV Park in Felton


  6. Rachael May 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I agree that Big Sur is pretty, although I might not grant it world superiority- maybe you need to get down to New Zealand next, or Canada, or Norway, or Kauai… Etc etc. we really liked Point Lobos – totally agree there! That orange picture is gorgeous.


    • Brian May 26, 2013 at 1:56 am #

      We have indeed been to some of those places but I think you read something into the post that isn’t really there. Nowhere did we grant anything “world superiority.” What we said was that none may be better, which is not the same thing as claiming it to be superior.

      Certainly the Na’ Pali Coast is at least as beautiful as Big Sur, but is it better? Hard to say. When you get to that level of beauty you really have to start splitting hairs to judge one better than the other. And of course, not everyone will agree on the correct way to split those hairs. So yes, we’re comfortable saying that no place may definitively be able to claim to be more beautiful than Big Sur.


  7. heavenhappens May 27, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    Oh to see these places, but I enjoy them through your photographs x Do carry on your travels and spread the beauty everywhere ~ more than once though!!


  8. backthewaywecame May 29, 2013 at 7:05 am #

    What an experience to walk through those trees.


  9. Amy Lynne Hayes May 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    I have yet to check out the west coast of the United States, but I am turning my attention that direction more and more these days. Thank you for the “must-see” to put on my list! 🙂


  10. Herb April 3, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

    Basically point lobos is sort of thought of being in the ‘Big sur’ area…so it’s splitting hairs to try and separate them….as far as I’m concerned,I include point lobos as being on the ‘Big Sur coast, along with garrapata, molera, Julia, pfeiffer-BS, and limelikn parks…I would say the Big Sur coast starts at point lobos,then South to San carpofero Creek.


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