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Big Sur, California

Pacific Coast Highway

California's most iconic self-drive

Visit the Pacific Coast Highway


California's Pacific Coast Highway, or California State Route 1, ranks as one of the drives of a lifetime. The most scenic part of the drive extends from San Luis Obispo to Monterey, passing the through the spectacular Big Sur area, described by novelist Robert Louis Stevenson as 'the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world'.

The twisting, cliff hugging 100-mile route of sea, mountains and rocky coves takes about five hours to complete at a leisurely pace and takes in the Big Sur Coast Highway and the San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway. Other places to visit include Santa Barbara, San Simeon and Carmel. Call our specialists for insider tips and expert advice on creating your California Pacific Coast fly-drive.


Originally the Californian state capital, Monterey’s downtown has more historical buildings than any other West Coast city. But there's much to see away from its perfectly preserved centre. On the coast, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its kelp forests are home to seals, dolphins and whales all of which can be spotted on bay cruises.


Since the 1880s, sleepy Carmel’s Comstock cottages and sandy beaches have been something of a creative’s retreat. Today, the artistic spirit is still realised in the over 100 galleries that line Ocean Drive, the town’s upmarket main road. Heading inland will bring you to Carmel Valley’s vineyards and artisan farm restaurants – ideal for ambling sunset walks.

Big Sur

Big Sur is, for many, what the Pacific Coast Highway is all about. Its cambered road, carved into the rock, takes in everything from cracked cliffs to peaceful bays, lapped by the Pacific's deep blue. Although only 90 miles long, it’s well worth breaking the trip with several stops to fully appreciate the sites.

Pismo Beach

Pismo's golden sands, broken only by a rickety wooden pier, jutting 1,200 feet out to sea, provide a pleasing contrast to the routes otherwise rocky coastline. With its abundance of diners and oceanfront hotels, and nearby vineyards and surf spots, it’s a wonderful pit stop on your drive.

Santa Barbara

A coastal city, known as the jewel of the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is perfect for romantic evening walks past whitewashed walls and swaying palm trees. The dining's not bad either, especially at the wonderful Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, located at the end of the iconic pier. Stop here for tasty lobster tacos, steamed clams and black mussels with crispy pancetta, washed down with a craft beer or a glass or two of the excellent local wine.

Blog: Best Road Trips in the USA


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Top itineraries in Pacific Coast Highway

Big Sur, California

California & the Pacific Coast Highway

12-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,225 pp incl. flights

A truly iconic USA fly-drive, the Pacific Coast Highway brings you between San Francisco and Los Angeles, calling into world-class vineyards, pretty coastal towns and sweeping golden beaches.

Yosemite National Park, Califiornia

Highlights of Northern California

12-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,575 pp incl. flights

Northern California is a region of immense nature, world-leading wines and culture-packed cities, showcased in such icons as San Francisco, Sonoma and Yosemite National Park. Take in its headline acts on this fly-drive holiday.

Big Sur, California

Luxury California Fly-drive: San Francisco to Big Sur

9-day tailor-made self-drive from £6,265 pp incl. flights

Explore California’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway on this luxury fly-drive, taking in the icons of San Francisco and Big Sur’s coastal delights

Luxury California and American South West Tour

Luxury California & Las Vegas Self-Drive

12-day tailor-made self-drive from £11,040 pp incl. flights

Explore the best of California en route to Las Vegas, staying in complete luxury and enjoying activities including Ocean Safari's and city tours, with the option to extend your tour to include Canyon Point.

Top places to stay in Pacific Coast Highway

Le Meridien Delfina, Santa Monica

Le Méridien Delfina, Santa Monica

Contemporary hotel

Watch scorching sunsets silhouette palm trees over one of the world’s most famous beaches as your accommodation is firmly planted among Santa Monica’s exclusive bars and restaurants, the haunts of LA’s rich and famous.

Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica

Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica

Traditional hotel

Perfect for those who like to be near the action but not deafened by it, Shutters on the Beach is a stylish yet quiet hideaway in sassy Santa Monica, and a highly regarded member of The Leading Hotels of the World group.

Post Ranch Inn pool

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Designer hotel

With an infinity pool 1,000 feet above the Pacific, hot tubs and fireplaces in each of the guest rooms, views of breaching whales and a fine-dining restaurant, Post Ranch Inn is a dream destination along America’s dream drive.

Viceroy, swimming pool

Viceroy Santa Monica

Contemporary hotel

Named ‘the best-kept secret in Santa Monica’ by The Los Angeles Times, this chic and contemporary boutique hotel is one of Santa Monica’s hippest haunts.

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Meet our Pacific Coast Highway experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0636

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0636 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

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