Packing ourselves up again, we bundled in to the car in the morning sunshine and headed off in pursuit of some whales. Word to the wise, if living out of a suitcase isn’t really your thing, then a road trip is quite possibly not for you.
Back in Monterey, there are loads of whale watching tours to choose from. We found the smallest, most weathered looking boat and hopped on with the assumption that this little boat had definitely earned its sea legs and we weren’t wrong! The guys from Chris’s knew what they were doing and the 3 hour tour passed in the blink of an eye, full from beginning to end with tons of jellyfish (mating season apparently, they were absolutely everywhere around the shoreline), sea lions and otters, dolphins and of course, the star attraction…whales.
The dolphins whizzed around the boat, chasing us in a swirl of synchronized dives and splashes until almost instantly disappearing once the whales showed up.
I had envisaged some free willy like moments, with the whales appearing above the surface before crashing back in to the water, the reality was a little more subdued but no less spectacular. Following along behind them, they traveled in pairs and would appear in a flurry of air puffs and tail flicks before diving back down for a swim and then repeating it all again.
I was a sceptic before the trip but it was one of the best things we did, being at one with nature and all that. Chris and his band of merry men (I have no idea if anyone was actually called Chris) did a great job of keeping us entertained whilst we waited for them to pop back up, peppering us with facts and answering any questions. We didn’t pre book, just got ourselves down to the pier before the tour departed and grabbed some tickets. Get there a bit early to hop on for a spot at the front, you never know which side the whales are going to pop up on, in fact, one appeared right in front of the boat as we were charging towards it before disappearing swiftly. Oh, and take a bloody coat! Even with a heatwave, that good ol’ sea air is nippy and I spent the majority of the time clinging on to my guy using him as a human shield/coat. Sounds like a romantic moment but mostly it was just me resembling some kind of barnacle.
Back on dry land we began our drive south, excitedly heading for the Big Sur, the stretch of coast line that runs from Carmel to San Simeon. If you’re in the area, it is not one to miss and actually this is one of the first things I planned to do when we booked the trip. But come on now, since when does anything ever go to plan? Some landslides and demolished bridges meant that part of the highway was closed so my big idea of taking the coast road all the way down to Santa Barbara was a little hampered. Never one to admit defeat (I am ridiculously stubborn), we ventured down as far as we could before having to turn back.
It is so beautiful. Miles and miles of rugged coastline, endless waves crashing into shore and a long winding road to drive down and peak out at the view. I got my American road trip playlist on the go and loved every minute of it.
I was a little worried that being so popular it might all feel over crowded but with more than enough coastline to accommodate, it felt amazingly quiet but there were enough people around you could grab someone to play photographer when needed, always handy.
Yes, we are wearing matching hats. We are just that cool...
A few (thousand) photos later, we jumped on to the freeway and set Cambria in our sights.
Cambria was a stopover to break up the drive, we didn’t arrive until early evening and left first thing the next morning to head down to Santa Barbara. We stayed at the Cambria Beach Lodge which was great, right on the ocean front at Moonstone beach and newly refurbished.
The guy at the desk also recommended the restaurant next door, The Sea Chest, which meant minimal effort was required to sort dinner. We dropped our bags and strolled next door.
The place was crammed, so happy that his recommendation was a good one, we stuck our names on the list and grabbed a drink at the bar until our table was ready. We over ordered (anyone else guilty of that?), the food was fab but we just had way too much of it, if you’re a seafood lover then this is a little pearl for you.
Doggy bag in hand we walked all of 30 seconds back to our hotel and collapsed into bed.
Come back soon for the next part of the adventure!