The Pacific Coast Highway offers so much by way of spectacular scenery, beaches, good food and wine, yet for most people it's seeing something of the Pacific Coast Highway wildlife that makes for those special moments. To see a humpback whale breaching the surface of the Pacific Ocean, spouting or slapping its tail on the water, reminds us of the power and majesty of the natural world. No wonder whale watching, in California especially, is one of the most popular activities all along the Pacific Coast.
If you can, you should try to time your visit so you're there during California Whale Watching Season. We've done just that, and you can read our accounts of a Hornblower whale watching cruise in San Diego, a whale-watching cruise from Santa Barbara, and of our Dana Point whale watching sunset cruise.
Newport Landing Whale Watching does year-round whale-watching from Newport Beach in Orange County which is just south of Los Angeles. We'll definitely be trying them out when we're next in Newport Beach.
Spotting the Tail of a Humpback Whale
Photo (c) Donna Dailey
You'll see seals, elephant seals, and sea lions too, wherever you go. Some of the easiest to see are those that hang out in popular tourist spots like Fisherman's Wharf at Monterey, and at San Francisco too. You'll also get close-up views of magnificent elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Beach, just north of Hearst Castle, and one of the most amazing of the Pacific Coast Highway's wildlife experiences is a visit to the Florence Sea Lion Caves north of Florence and south of Yachats.
Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas Beach
Photo (c) Donna Dailey
Yet there's as much joy to be had in observing some of the tiniest creatures you find along the coasts of Oregon, Washington and California. From March to September you'll find hummingbirds, those flying jewels, along the west coast of the United States. Little wrens too, and larger birds like graceful egrets and herons, through to the big birds of prey including bald eagles, golden eagles and turkey vultures.
Ground Squirrel in La Jolla
Photo (c) Donna Dailey
There are mammals ranging from chipmunks and raccoons to deer and elk, while on the shoreline you can look for sea lions basking on the rocks or sea otters playing around in the waves. And beneath those waves another world lurks, a world of dolphins, humpback whales, orca whales and even blue whales. Either pack your binoculars and a good field guide or take advantage of one of the organized wildlife tours up and down the Pacific Coast.
But whatever you do and wherever you go, always look for opportunities to enjoy the Pacific Coast Highway's wonderful wildlife.
Nov 16, 17 11:44 AM
Pacific Coast Highway Travel's website recommendations on Where to Stay in Carmel include reviews of the Mission Ranch, Sea View Inn, The Cypress Inn, Lamp Lighter Inn and Vagabond's House Inn.
Nov 16, 17 11:40 AM
This Carmel dog-friendly hotel, the historic Cypress Inn, is co-owned by movie legend Doris Day and offers luxury lodgings for pet-loving travelers (cats welcome too) in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Nov 16, 17 11:33 AM
Carmel on the Monterey coast stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway is known for artists and celebrity residents, but there's also a mission, beaches, historic houses, and abundant wildlife.
Follow Us on Twitter
To help you in choosing your Pacific Coast Highway hotel, guesthouse, inn, bed-and-breakfast, resort, motel or other accommodations, we've prepared our Pacific Coast Highway Hotels Guide. In it we do mini-reviews of accommodations along the Highway, from Seattle to San Diego, through Washington, Oregon, and California.
In all there are over 200 hotels listed, complete with 8 pages of color maps showing the towns where our recommended hotels can be found. There are both alphabetical and geographical indexes, helping you plan your journey.
We also include color photos of all the hotels that are our Personal Favorites. Here's the link to read more about our ebook guide to Pacific Coast Highway hotels.
The 2016 edition of our Hotels Guide is available with maps and color photos (if you have a color reader) in the US Kindle Store for only $4.99 and in the UK Kindle Store and other Kindle stores worldwide at prices based on the US price.
If you want a paperback edition of the 2016 guide with only black and white photos and black-and-white maps, it costs $6.99 at the US Amazon Book Store and £4.99 in the UK Amazon Store.