Big Sur Tour | See Monterey, Big Sur and the California Coast

Why We Love this Tour

“Big Sur is the quintessential image that I think of when I think of California, and should be on your bucket list if it isn’t already! There’s nothing quite like it when you stand above the crashing waves along the rocky coast at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. As a Santa Cruz resident, I try and make my way down there as often as I can. You will LOVE checking out the sights along the way, like the boardwalk that hosts one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world, and the aquarium in Monterey with all the adorable otters.”

– Lauren Chouinard
Digital Marketing Manager

Tour Highlights

  • Stay overnight in a comfortable beachside hotel
  • Explore the majestic coastal redwoods of Big Sur
  • Search for cute & playful sea otters in Elkhorn Slough
  • Snap photos of the rugged & dramatic coastline on the PCH 
  • Visit the famous Monterey Aquarium or cruise 17-mile drive on an e-bike tour
  • Enjoy the restaurants and shops of famous Cannery Row
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Price: $469

Get 10% off all winter tours!

Use code IAWINTERWONDERLAND for tours departing before June 1, 2020.

 

Special EARLY BIRD deals on summer 2020:

Book 90+ days out from your tour date
20% off with code EARLY90

Book 60+ days out from your tour date
15% off with code EARLY60

Book 30+ days out from your tour date
10% off with code EARLY30

* Rate based on double occupancy. Child rate available for those under 12.

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Friends explore Big Sur, Monterey County, California

Big_Sur_Sunset

Take in the beautiful California Coastal sunsets.

McWay Cove Big Sur

Explore hidden coves along the way.

Beach Big Sur

Visit the rocky beaches full of tidepools and awesome wildlife.

Bixby Bridge Big Sur Coastline

Head down the winding roads along the iconic California Coast.

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Overview

Join a Californian rite of passage as you experience the journey down the Pacific Coast Highway 1, exploring the natural grandeur of the nature and small-town vibes that captured the imaginations of John Steinbeck, Henry Miller, and Jack Kerouac.

You’ll step away from the big city into the laid back beach towns just a few hours south of San Francisco, where you’ll experience entirely different scenery. Enjoy 2 full days of exploring and adventuring along the rugged PCH while spotting marine wildlife around Monterey, reveling in the majestic giant redwoods of Big Sur and getting active on either a kayak or e-bike tour. At night, enjoy one of Monterey’s specialty seafood restaurants before sleeping comfortably at a hotel nearby.

Itinerary

Sample Itinerary

DAY 1 – San Francisco to Monterey

We’ll meet bright and early to begin our escape to the sun-drenched coastline of Monterey Bay. On the way, you’ll pass through the ‘salad bowl of the nation’ so make sure to keep an eye out for produce stands filled with everything from fresh artichokes to juicy strawberries. Depending on the time of year, you may even catch the famous super blooms, an explosion of wildflowers that yields a vibrant scene of poppies, primroses and lilies. Upon reaching Monterey County, you’ll stop for your first chance at spotting marine wildlife at Elkhorn Slough, an estuary known for being critical habitat for sea otters, harbor seals, cormorants and brown pelicans.

Around lunchtime you’ll be met with expansive ocean views as you arrive to beautiful Monterey Bay.  A crown jewel of the Central Californian coast, Monterey has a range of activities to pick from. Choose to explore the coastline and 17-mile drive on an e-bike tour or get right onto the water in search of more sea otters on a kayak. If you’d rather get a closer look at what is beneath the water (like the world’s largest octopus), head over to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Of course, you’ll have to check out historic Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf where adventure, history and clam chowder await. Once you’ve enjoyed the best of what this picturesque city has to offer, stay overnight within Monterey County at a nearby comfortable hotel.

Please see our list and description of optional activities to choose from. We recommend booking this with us in advance to guarantee availability.

DAY 2 – Full Day Big Sur

Strap on your walking shoes and pack your camera, today you’ll trade in the small-town charm for the brilliant beauty of the rural Big Sur coastline. As you drive south on the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll stop for photos of the dramatic scenery and famous landmarks such as the iconic Bixby Bridge. Don’t forget to watch for whales too, depending on the time of year you can sometimes spot Gray and Humpback whales from the highway. Venture through the lush greenery in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where nestled in a beachy enclave of emerald water you’ll see one of the most photographed waterfalls on the Pacific Coast, McWay Falls.

Ready to wrap your arms around a mighty redwood? You’ll also get the chance to hit the trails in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and wander among the most southern habitat in the U.S. for these coastal giants.

After a full day exploring this memorable stretch of coastline, you’ll make your way back to San Francisco. Depending on the time of year, you’ll make a stop at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for classic Americana culture or in the quaint town of Half Moon Bay to grab a bite to eat. With hints of saltwater still on your skin, you’ll arrive back to the twinkling lights of San Francisco by 9pm.

Optional Activites

After lunch and upon arrival to Monterey, there is time for one of the following optional activities.  Due to timing restrictions, we recommend choosing one of the following based on your interests. Cruise along the 17-mile drive for scenic vistas on an e-bike or paddle in a kayak among sea otters, seals, sea lions, and a variety of shorebirds.  Alternatively, get up close and personal with life under the sea and visit the world renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

17 Mile Drive E-bike Tour

The e-bike tour covers the entire 17-mile drive with gorgeous ocean views, iconic landmarks, including Lover’s Point, Pebble Beach and the Lone Cypress.  Along the 3.5 hour trip, local guides will share their knowledge of the area’s unique ocean wildlife, while you try to spot some sea otters and sea lions.  In addition, take in the views of the luxurious mansions along the path.  On an e-bike you’ll cover more ground in a shorter amount of time and not expend as much energy for a more enjoyable ride.  There will also be plenty of time to stop for photos as directed by your guide.

Please note the following prices and information:
$59 per person for ages 16+
$44 per person for ages 10 – 15.
* There is a minimum height requirement of 4’8″.
Contact us to add this option to your booking!

Guided Kayak Tour of Elkhorn Slough

The kayak tour is a 2.5 hour guided paddle through Elkhorn Slough.  Reaching seven miles inland from the coast in the center of the picturesque Monterey Bay, the Elkhorn Slough harbors the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay. This biologically rich estuary provides habitat for a diversity of migratory birds, plants, marine mammals and fish.

With knowledgeable guides, you’ll enjoy the stunning diversity of marine life.  There is no experience required on this peaceful paddle as you try to spot sea otters, sea lions and various shorebirds.

Please note the following prices and information:
$60 per person
* Age requirement is 3+
* Children between the ages of 3-12 must be in a double kayak with an adult
* 2 person minimum requirement to reserve a tour (we will contact you if the tour date does not meet the requirements)
Contact us to ad this option to your booking!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Being a leader in ocean conservation and education, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is considered to be one one of the best in the world. In visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium you’ll see colorful fishes and sharks, various invertebrates, including many types of jellyfish and reptiles, including the green sea turtle. More than 35,000 creatures representing over 550 species fill 34 major galleries. With nearly 200 exhibits in all, the Aquarium is a window to the wonders of the ocean.

Please note the following prices and information:
$49.95 per person
$39.95 for seniors (65+)  and students (13-17),
$29.95 for children ages 3 – 12, and children under 3 are free.

As a tour operator we are no longer able to secure tickets in advance.  If you’d like to visit the aquarium, we recommend you purchase tickets online in advance to avoid waiting in long lines during the busy summer season.

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