Our Trip to Big Sur, CA

Ocean waterfall in Big Sur CASo this is my second year posting a “5 Places I want to go in…” in a row. I honestly view this as more of putting my intentions/hopes out into the universe type of thing. What I mean is, I don’t truly expect that I’ll get to go to all five places I list. But I think it kind of gives me some ideas of the kinds of things I want to try and do/see travel-wise in the coming year.

Guys, I got one! Trey and I went to Big Sur, CA last weekend, and it RULED. Trey booked the trip for us as a 30th birthday present to me (I turned 30 this past January). He’s a keeper. 🙂

So what did we do? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

Best beaches in big sur Ocean door in big sur Pacific oceanWe flew into San Francisco, which is about four hours away from where we were lodging. Big Sur is a long stretch along the coast between San Fran and LA. This might sound like a long drive, but it’s mostly along Hwy 1, which is just beautiful! It goes along the coast so you can see the electric blue Pacific Ocean as you wind along the highway.

Big sur yurts Inside a yurtWe stayed in a yurt at the Treebones Resort. I would totally recommend them; our stay was great if you like glamping. (I sort of hate that word, but it’s also kind of funny I guess.)

Along with yurts, campgrounds, tree houses, and few other fun lodging options, they also have an AMAZING sushi bar. It only seats 10 at a time, and it was easily the best sushi of our lives (and Trey loves sushi, so we eat it pretty much everywhere we go). The chef, Yancy Knapp, is insanely talented and a super sweet guy. I was seriously inspired by his creations, and I’m not even the biggest sushi fan.

Redwood hiking in big sur Where to hike in big sur Redwood treesEmma and trey in big sur ca Hiking in big sur McWay Falls in Big Sur CA Trey and Abby hiking Best beaches in big sur ca We spent two days (it was only a four day trip total) hiking. I really cannot describe how beautiful Big Sur is. It’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been too. You hike through redwood forests as well as see some beautiful beaches all in the same day. We hiked in Limekiln, Salmon Creek, and the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which is where the famous McWay Falls is located (the waterfall right by the ocean).

Our friend, Abby, drove down from San Francisco one day to hike and hang out with us. So that was a bonus treat to the trip for sure. 🙂

Redwood trees Golden sunsetIf you ever get a chance to visit Big Sur, CA, I highly recommend you do, especially if you like hiking and pretty views. Thanks for letting me share some snaps from our trip. xx. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

  • Looks like you hit up a ton of gorgeous spots in Big Sur! My question is if a couple were planning an elopement in Big Sur is there any permits or anything they would need to get ahead of time or can they just set up a little ceremony in the woods or on a beach?

  • All the photos look amazing!! I live in LA but haven’t made it to Big Sur yet!
    Where did you get your hiking boots? They are super cute 🙂

  • That seems like such an amazing trip! I had never heard of that place before, but now you definitely make me want to go! I’m not much of a camping kind of gal, but that glamping doesn’t seem half bad. 😉

    Beautiful pictures!
    Amelie | http://awanderersadventures.wordpress.com

  • Beautiful!! My husband had a business trip near San Fransisco a few years ago, and we took a few extra days to drive south! We weren’t able to drive any further south than Monterey though, and I would love to go back and make the drive all the way to L.A. 🙂 We live(d) in southern Oregon, so we have great access to the Pacific coast and the Redwoods, but you just cannot beat the color of that water once you get south of San Fransisco! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • oh my gosh! i’ve always wanted to visit this beautiful place and its definitely on my bucket list. Amazing photos x

    • Thank you for the fabulous photos of Big Sur!

      My husband and I lived in SF and went to Big Sur twice a year. May and October. We now live in Florida but we are coming to Big Sur in October 2021. You will never forget Big Sur no matter where you are from or where you have been. Napenthe has a live web cam which you can google up and enjoy anytime!

  • Beautiful photos! Of all the time I’ve spent in California I’ve never done a trip to Big Sur, but now that I’m moving to the state, it’s at the top of my list!

  • I love Big Sur too! I live in So Cal, so we used to go up there a lot during summers as a kid. I have never seen that waterfall hitting the ocean, so I’m dying to go back up to find it. I also heard about this amazing architect in Monterey that designed the cutest fairy tale cottages in Monterey named Hugh Comstock ~ want to go and find his houses. Look him up if you like architecture because his designs set the stage for much of the architecture in the area. Looks like a beautiful trip. Big Sur is a California gem!

  • These pictures are GORGEOUS

    Amanda Leon | Reads By Amanda www.readsbyamanda.com

  • We planned a roadtrip from LA, through Big Sur up to San Fran and then over to Yosemite/Sequoia NP’s and over to Vegas, but we never got to go! I’m still holding out for that roadtrip, as I’m dying to visit McWay Falls! It looks so beautiful! It sounds like you had the most amazing trip!
    xo April | April Everyday

  • Always wanted to go! This is an awesome help, thank you!! The glamping idea sounds fun, I hope not too cold though! Sending this post on to my partner for planning… 🙂
    xx Jenelle

  • I consider myself immensely blessed to be live in Southern CA and be able to drive up to Big Sur whenever I want (to an extent). It is my favorite place in the world even though I haven’t been many other places (and I don’t see myself traveling much in the future).
    My fiance however is deathly afraid of heights and the one time I was there with him and my family he had a real tough time. It almost made me question our relationship but I like him in spite of our differences. ;] I’ll just have to travel there with our future kids without him–or blindfold him.

  • The photos are stunning and taking me right back to last March.

    Me and J got married in Vegas last February and our honeymoon was to drive up the coast of California. What a beautiful state. Big Sur was definitely somewhere i never wanted to leave


  • So beautiful!! I have to go here one day!


  • its a beautiful area, we drove up the coast from san diego to san Francisco, on our way up we stayed over night at moon bay. I would do it again in a minute!

  • We just did this drive this past Sunday! We drove from San Luis Obispo up to Monterey Bay. Simply gorgeous!

  • Treebones for the win!! Went there for our mini-moon (also a disdainful word, but gets the job done) right after our wedding and it was the perfect place to relax and unwind. Also kudos to you for not supporting those awful luxury resorts that have no place in the serene natural unique space that is Big Sur. Also not sure if you realized but Trrebones is unique in that it is completely off the grid. Important to prioritize a minimal footprint in a place like Big Sur

  • Such an amazing place

  • We took a family trip there 10 years ago and loved every minute of it! The coastal highway is truly breathtaking. We hiked down to some hidden beaches and even saw many of the exact places you’ve photographed above. I agree with you completely; “It’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been too.” Happy to hear you’ve marked another item of your list!

  • Looks like SO much fun. Put Yosemite on your list too, if you want another hiker babe trip. It’s INCREDIBLE. but avoid the weekend! One question… Where are your shorts from? I’m obsessed!

  • These photos are gorgeous! Visiting Big Sur is a need I never knew I had, but now I have to go!

  • Absolutely breathtaking! Adding this to my list of places to go for sure. The Treebones Resort experience seems great. I was scrolling through their website and saw the “Human Nest” option- seems exciting! Great post. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Big Sur looks absolutely incredible, your photos are gorgeous!

    Ciara x | http://ciarapocket.blogspot.ie

  • I LOVE Treebones!! And Big Sur is definitely one of my favorite places in the world.

  • Wow these photos are so gorgeous, looks like you had an amazing time!!

  • Amazing place really worth it for its stunning views!
    kisses from Greece

  • What a lovely trip! I’ve always wanted to visit Big Sur but it’s so far from Germany! Hehehe! And you always make me want to hike! I still remember the lovly pictures of your honeymoon in Austria!

  • Oh my, that place looks wonderful!!
    I developed a big interest for hiking in the last two years. Only weeks ago I hiked (“trekked”) through the Sumatran jungle for three days. (To see Orangutans in the wild.) And I enjoyed it so much. Since one month I live in Melbourne and I need to hike and camp here (definitely) but winter is coming and it is so cold out!
    We’ll just wait for spring.
    btw, great job on the husband 😉

  • This is definitely on my bucket list! The photos look great x

  • Its such a beautyful place, wish we had in Denmark 🙂
    I love the treehuts 🙂
    Enjoy the summertime.

  • Looks like such a great trip!

    If anyone is looking to go to Big Sur with kids, and wonders how to adapt a trip with little ones, I’ve got lots of pointers!


  • Big Sur has been on my list of go to places for a while now I hope when I start traveling next year I get a chance to go there! The trees and beach views are gorgeous! Love these photos! Plus what a great birthday present 😀 x

    Rai | utterardour.blogspot.com

  • What trails did you guys hike? I’m headed there in November!

  • I’m so happy you loved our slice of the world here. I live 25 minutes away from Big Sur and am lucky enough to work at Pebble Beach. We love our slice of heaven and feel so lucky to be here. Love your blog!!!!!

  • Oh Emma, when I saw your post I thought “Oh, I wonder if they stayed at Treebone Resort”… and you did!! Ha! Me and my soon-to-be-husband stayed there for two nights in 2013 in the treehouse (bird’s nest or how they call it) and it was truly magical! (But the yurts might be more comfy, I guess…) It’s so much fun to see you went on similar hiking trips as we did! These are the links to my old travel blog if you’re interested (it’s in German, but there’s google translator, right? 🙂 ) https://suedwestentdecker.wordpress.com/die-ersten-tage-von-san-francisco-studenten-und-sonnenuntergangen/

  • Big Sur has been on my list for so long and this post just makes me want to be there even more. Wow…the beauty of this place is unbelievable.


  • These photos are unreal! I’ve never been to Big Sur, but now I need to go! It’s gorgeous!

    Do you mind sharing what camera and lenses you used on the trip? Your photos are stunning!


  • oh yeassss!!! I needed this! Me and my boyfriend was thinking about a place to go in our 8 years anniversary and one of the ideas is Big Sur. The photos are incredible and reading that it was one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever been is a good plus! 🙂

    Im gonna check the “hotel” you stayed. thanks thanks thanks!

  • Looks amazing! I need to add it to my list.


  • I grew up in the South Bay so Big Sur was our regular camping spot a few times a summer. I agree with you – it’s easily one of the most beautiful places in the world! Looks like you guys had an amazing time 🙂

  • Yay! I live in Berkeley and the first vacation my partner and I went on just us (there was a prior vacation with his sister and some friends) was to Big Sur. It was March, so it was rainy and chilly and he had a cold but even so, it was beautiful and so much fun. We stayed at Glen Oaks, and I’d definitely recommend it. Not cheap, but for the area, it’s on the reasonable side. And I love having a kitchen when I go away. So glad you were able to check Big Sur off your list. I’m checking off one of my long time travel goals this summer — Maine!

  • Treebones is amazing! Cutest and best spot to stay down there. Glad you had a great time! I live in the Bay Area and still do’t make it down enough for a weekend away, so now I am feeling inspired!

  • Ah, my favorite place. Love it so much we got married there – and recently made the drive down from Santa Cruz for our anniversary. https://yearofmonths.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/rt-wedding-trail/

    Glad you had such a terrific experience! Keep on conjuring. 🙂

  • Yay! How fun, I’m sure that will be an amazing trip for you! We loved it.


  • Do it! If it’s too crowded def go another time. I wish I could just drive here on the weekends, so pretty!


  • I guess we technically drove in the opposite direction, but I could not agree more—it truly is a soul filling drive. I am very envious of anyone who lives nearby. It’s so breathtaking. 🙂


  • It looks amazing! I’d love to swim there right now.

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  • Your photos are beautiful! It sounds like a lovely trip 🙂

    xo, Liz

  • This is just the post that I needed as I’m heading to California (from London) for 5 weeks and driving highway 1. This has made me so super excited. 54 days to go!!!

    Sophie xx

  • Gorgeous! I’m headed out there this coming weekend and could not be more excited. That water is an unreal shade of blue!!

  • WOW – this is incredible – just…no words 🙂
    and such amazing pictures – definitely a new point on my visit wish list 🙂

  • These photos are amazing! I would love to do a road trip from CA to NYC! I think that would be amazing


  • My boyfriend and I have been going back and forth on the idea of cruising up there this weekend . . . even though it’ll likely be a circus on account of the holiday… but THIS has confirmed the urgency of us needing to goooooo!!!!! Thank you for the extra push. It looks amazing!


    i went to big sur about a year ago unfortunately, i dint get to do any of this stuff.
    BUT i did get to drive from there to LA and it was the most beautiful soul fulfilling drive ever!!!!!

    love love loooove it!

    at the moment, i have a rental so im trying to take advantage of that so i dont put the miles in my car.

    thank you so much for this!!!!

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