Big Sur: A Bohemian Getaway
Early on in the summer, whilst interviewing a Brazilian jewellery designer, Sabriana Gaspernin Vartanian, for GEMOLOGUE (you can read the interview here), we asked her what her perfect getaway was, and her immediate answer was ‘Big Sur in California’. I was instantly intrigued, because a few weeks later I was heading to Northern California and needed some inspiration for my exact itinerary. Same day I looked at a few images of Big Sur, and I knew this is the place I would like to spend a few days exploring, because I am always instantly drawn to places of wild and untamed nature.
Big Sur is known for its rocky coastline and its bohemian reputation, having been a refuge of choice to many known writers, including Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac amongst others, who extolled the rugged and unspoilt beauty of this stretch of California coast in their writings.
Big Sur is a 90-mile stretch of California central coast, its northern end about 120 miles south of San Francisco. The coast is very sparsely populated, with about only 1,000 year-round inhabitants, most of whom are descendants of the original ranching families, rarities and writers! No wonder, Big Sur feels so wild and thousands of miles removed from San Francisco and Los Angeles…
“Big Sur” is derived from Spanish el sur grande, meaning “the big south”, or from el país grande del sur, “the big country of the south”. Basically the name refers to Big Sur’s location south of the city of Monterey.
Let me tell you that absolutely nothing prepares you for the immense wild beauty of the rocky coastline fringed by the Pacific ocean of fairy-tale blue, interspersed by luxuriant ancient redwood forests.
Big Sur is the perfect getaway to renew your spirit and clear your head of madness of city life. The wild pristine nature will feel you with immense joy and restore you to a sense of mental balance.
Most people’s experience of Big Sur consists of driving the famous Highway 1, winding its way along the western side of the mountain within the sight of the Pacific Ocean.
Some consider Highway 1 one of the most scenic roads in the world, although gain at these spectacular views is inadvisable since you can accidentally veer off the road and tumble to your death into the ocean!
However it is certainly worthwhile stopping here for at least a couple of nights, since there are many hiking trails, winding their way through redwood forests and along the coast, as well as stretches of pristine beaches – although swimming might not be for every one since the water is rather frigid! I spent five blissful days exploring the rugged coastline, the wild, seemingly deserted beaches and the redwood forests.
Where I stayed…
Tourist accommodations are very limited and often expensive due to land use restrictions which preserve Big Sur’s natural beauty.
An iconic hotel built in the 1970s and sprawling along a hillside above dramatic cliffs, Ventana Inn is the epitome of the perfect escape destination in Big Sur overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There is a spa, as well as two pools, one of them if “clothing option” in a bohemian Big Sur spirit.
Wild deer roam the property and you can catch glimpses of them as you make your way to the restaurant along the winding pathway through redwood forest. The restaurant itself serves fantastic farm-fresh produce cooked in an inventive manner.
I also went camping for a couple of days to truly immerse myself in local nature!
A picturesque spot under the shade of redwood trees along Highway 1 – stop if you need break. Browse a wonderful, well-curated assortment of books from the writers who sojourned in Big Sur. And I absolutely loved the cat. I wish I could recall his name!