Day 5 – Carmel to Malibu – Highway 1

Today is to be our first real “driving” day, heading south from Carmel along the Pacific Coast Highway – Highway 1, reknowned as one of the world’s great drives.

After the previous evening’s indulgences, we started the day with a chilly walk along Carmel Beach.  With the best of intentions, we planned to leave Carmel by 9am.  After one false start which meant backtracking 10 miles to collect the camera charger we’d left in the hotel room, we were on the road by 11am …

The coastal drive is spectacular, worth every bit of its reputation, and enhanced by a crisp, fine Californian winters day.  During summer it suffers bumper to bumper traffic, but at this time of year, in the off-season, there was hardly any other cars on the road.  Progress was slow, however, with many stops required for photo opportunities.

A friend in Brisbane, Clayton Cooke, had recommended we stop at the “Post Ranch Inn” near Big Sur for lunch.  Actually, he had recommended we stay there, but we decided not to when its website revealed average room rates of US$1,500 per night …

Keeping with our cheap and cheerful dining agenda … we enjoyed a wonderful lunch in their restaurant perched high above the Pacific, with views across the ocean to infinity.  Good food but spectacular setting.

We had planned to visit Hearst Castle, the eccentric mansion built in the 1940’s by William Randolph Hearst, but with our late start, slow progress down the coast road, and stopping just before Hearst Castle to see a beach crowded with literally hundreds of sea lion, barking and basking in the sun, we arrived at the castle 15 minutes after the last admission.

Neither of us were terribly disappointed, as I think after the day’s driving, we would have been visiting out of a sense of tourist’s obligation rather than any burning desire.

Picking a destination on the SatNav, Malibu sounded as good a place as any, so we pointed the beast south and drove into the night, arriving at our beachside motel for the night at about 8:00pm.

Only about 350 miles covered for the day, and probably the longest I’ve taken to cover 350 miles, but what a drive …

Pacific Coast Highway 1, big thumbs up.

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