Beach Essentials and The Pacific Coast Highway
My infatuation with the ocean started at a young age. I was obsessed with whales and dolphins as a child and wanted to be a marine biologist. Like most things in life, that didn’t go as planned, but, despite my unexpected career path, my love for the water remains pretty steadfast.
This summer has been crazy to say the least; with weddings, bachelorettes, friends, family, a full time job, and my first attempt at a blogging career my days are jam-packed. When things get this chaotic, that’s when I crave the water most. Nothing is as grounding as a swim across the lake surrounded by tall pines and Canadiana goodness or a walk along a sandy beach breathing in that healing saltwater air. I’m hoping to carve out some more time for those perfect summer moments that are so fleeting for us Canadians, but, in the meantime, I’m California (day)dreaming about my drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.
I cannot say enough about this trip – the scenery is awe inspiring and and sweeping views of the vast ocean from rugged cliff tops have a funny way of putting everything into perspective. In case you’re planning your own PCH roadtrip (do it!) here’s a little recap of some of my favourite sites along the way:
We took off bright and early from L.A. to beat the morning rush – so worth it! We got into Montecito just in time to enjoy a lovely morning coffee and muffin at a cute bakery on their high street. I’m pretty convinced that Montecito is not actually real. It’s too good to be true. When you pull off the highway you are greeted by the most amazing floral fragrance you’ve ever smelled. I don’t know if the people there are just rich enough to have their air scented or if it’s all the gorgeous plants that grow around there – but either way, it’s lovely. We drove by Oprah’s house but oddly weren’t invited in. So we took off to our next destination.
Cambria is the sweetest sleepy beach town in San Luis Obispo County. It sits beside Moonstone beach - a beautiful, rugged landscape that is the perfect reminder of the force of Mother Nature. If you’re headed through Cambria, be sure to line-up (yes, line-up, it’s that popular) for a meal at Sea Chest, even the most hardcore foodie will be impressed with this fare. This was easily one of the best seafood meals I’ve ever had. On our way home from dinner, we were treated to a gorgeous fog roll-in and seaside storm which seemed to make the ocean and sky all the more beautiful.
Hearst Castle & Piedras Blancas
I’ll be honest, I was not that excited to visit Hearst Castle, but it was truly worth the stop. A winding bus trip to the castle that sits hilltop gives you a beautiful view of the ocean and the castle houses a wonderfully weird collection of artifacts from all over the world. My favourite was the Sekhmet figure – symbolizing the female ability to both give and take life. Hearst’s mother was a famous philanthropist and feminist and the castle is teeming with strong symbols of feminine power. I’m down, to say the least. Stop at Piedras Blancas as you head North to check out the Elephant Seals nursing ground. It’s worth the stop.
Wow. Take your time here, this is some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen. Be sure to stop off at McWay Falls for the quintessential Big Sur photo op and grab coffee, cookies and a meal at the Big Sur Bakery on your way out of the park. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves – many authors, musicians and poets have tried, but words can’t really do justice when it comes to Big Sur.
Monterey is home to pretty much any time of marine mammal you could ever hope to see. I’m exaggerating, of course, but this is an ideal location if you’re hoping to spot some whales and dolphins. We were treated to one of the most magical experiences of my life as a pod of dolphins played in the water around our boat as we headed out for the morning.
Carmel Valley Ranch
After a busy itinerary we were ready for some R&R. Well Carmel Valley Ranch had us covered; from fireplaces beside your bathtub, to beautiful products, and a gorgeous property, this was the perfect way to end our PCH roadtrip. We are already talking about booking our next trip to the Ranch.
Now let’s not forget the most important part, here are a few of my favourite beach getaway essentials to pack on your trip:
Last year for my Birthday I went to watch the sunrise on Leuty Beach. In the morning I brought my coffee and a pinch of cinnamon in my S’well bottle, it stayed piping hot for hours. I later swapped it out for some ice cold water that stayed refreshing all day. I was sold. This bottle is a gamechanger.
I know, I know they’re everywhere but damn these bathingsuits are cute and the customer service is next level. Hop on their chat service to make sure you get the right size. Shipping is speedy even though they come all the way from Australia and swapping out sizes that don’t fit is a breeze!
Unfortunately, I don’t live coastally. When I want a fix, I turn to my Love & Salt spray. It feels amazing on your skin, gives great texture to you hair and smells like the beach. It transports you instantly on those days when you need a little vitamin sea.
If you’re going to rock a cute suit, don’t ruin it with a pair of raggedy flip-flops you’ve had for way too long. These sandals from Shelly’s London are a great step up (Toronto girls, I snagged mine at Thursdays in Rosedale).
Green Beaver makes The. Best. Sunscreen. Period. It goes on so beautifully and doesn’t smell overbearing. You don’t have to worry about slapping a bunch of dangerous chemicals on your skin and, as an added bonus, this lovely brand is run by two smarty pants Canadian scientists! This is a product you can feel great about using.
Just keep swimming into Monday everyone!
Next weekend will be here before you know it :) xo