Highway 1 Roadtrip (Day 1)

We took a wonderful 3 day, 2 night road trip down Highway 1 starting from San Jose, CA and ending up in Los Angeles, CA. We had a lot of fun planning and are excited to share the sights and wonders of our journey!

General tips

  • There is limited cell reception along the coast, so plan ahead and keep track of how many miles/minutes it is from one place to the next. (printing this blog post would be a great idea if you are gonna follow our plan!)
  • Check for fires before you go! Unfortunately, during our trip, there was a large fire occurring which left all hiking / parks east of Highway 1 closed.
  • We broke up our driving each day into small parts, and took breaks at beautiful vista viewpoints
  • Bring a selfie stick.

Trip Outline

Day 1

  1. Point Lobos State Reserve
  2. Rocky Point Restaurant
  3. Ripplewood Resort check-in
  4. McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Day 2

  1. Lime Kiln State Park
  2. Elephant Seals in San Simeon
  3. Moonstone Beach
  4. Early Dinner at Ruddell’s Smokehouse in Cayucos
  5. Check in Airbnb at Los Osos
  6. Montana De Oro Sunset

Day 3

  1. Ostrichland in Solvang
  2. Nojoqui Park hike
  3. Lunch at Los Agaves in Santa Barbara

Brunch at Loulou’s  

If you love the feel and vibe of small mom and pop diners, this is a must stop. Located on the Monterey Boardwalk, this diner plays great music in the background as you enjoy the sights and sounds of the ocean.

Point Lobos Reserve: 85 miles south of San Jose & just south of Carmel. Be sure to get a map of the park.

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Tip: Wear long pants because there is a lot of poison oak on the paths and bring a light jacket due to the chilly breeze.

Entry fee into the park is $10 per car.  There are multiple parking lots, and you can drive around the whole reserve. There are lots of trails around, so park depending on how you want to navigate the reserve.  If you are planning to hike the whole place or don’t mind walking a little further, there is street parking available near the entrance area (free).

Here is the map of the trails.  The North shore trail is probably the most scenic trail along the coast. It took us like a little less than 2 hours to explore the trails at the North and Northeast sections.

Rocky Point Restaurant9 miles / 14 minutes south of Point Lobos

This restaurant has spectacular ocean views, and it’s a great place for a wedding too!

I would recommend sitting outside, but ask for a table in the sun since it can get a bit cold due to the wind.

After your meal, explore the grounds! They have lounge seats with a perfect view of the coast, an exciting trail, and you can even hike onto a cliff!

Ripplewood Resort: 14 miles / 20 minutes south of Rocky Point Restaurant

The Ripplewood convenience store where you check-in is located right after the Chevron gas station on the left.  If you see Fernwood Resort, then you went 1/2 mile too far South!

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The road is located to the left of the picture, about 300-400 feet away.  

We stayed in Cabin 12A which was cozy, comfortable, and clean. There is one parking spot right in front. Unfortunately, it’s very close to Highway 1 so you can still hear cars from the cabin. The lights outside the cabin are also quite bright at night, so it wasn’t the experience we were looking for. They do have other cabins close to Big Sur River, so perhaps we will check those out next time.

WIFI: available near the check in area.  Fairly fast.

McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: 12 miles / 21 minutes south of Ripplewood Resort

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Drop-gorgeous iconic view of Big Sur

You can park on the side of the street, walk through the tunnel and wa-la! It’s a short hike walking around this view. There is also another short hike you can take on the other side.

Continue to Day 2 and 3….

 

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Tips for Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven)

Parking – Be quiet when you park in the neighborhood, lots of residents have dogs / roosters who will make noise when they hear you. (Click this link to get detailed directions on parking and how to find Haiku Stairs)

Guard – is hired by the community, and can’t really do anything besides call the authorities. They will tell you that you are trespassing, that there is a fine, and that they are going to call the cops. Just tell the guard you understand and keep going towards the stairs. The guard pretended to talk to someone, saying “4 coming up, 4 coming up”. They didn’t call the cops on us. On our way back after the hike, the guard recorded us but I doubt they can use that for anything.

guard picture

Weather -make sure to check the weather.  If it’s raining, not only will the view be ruined, but it’s not safe because the stairs will be very slippery!  Ideally, there should be no clouds or fog too. Unfortunately, when we went, we encountered “vog”, what my friend called volcano fog from nearby islands.

Bring

  1. Headlamps – If you go early in the morning, it’s dark and you’ll want both hands on the railway
  2. Bug spray – If you’re loved by mosquitos, make sure you protect yourself!
  3. Gloves – It’s misty up in the mountains, so the railways get wet and slippery
  4. Miscellaneous – Hat, sunscreen, water, snacks, shoes you don’t mind getting muddy, a poncho to sit on if you’re going to wait for the sunrise, and of course, a camera / phone to document the gorgeous views.
  5. Jacket : It’s cold up in the mountains, so this is nice to have!
  6. Download Alltrails app to help guide you, along with our other guide

Be safe, and have a lot of fun! This was our favorite hike, and we’re so glad we did it! If you want more information, check out our other post with detailed directions on how to go to Haiku Stairs.

How to get to Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven)

 

Intro

Approximate time: 5-6 hours  

For quick tips and things to bring…  

Figuring out the time to go:
The reason folks recommend going super early is to avoid the guard.  I don’t think that getting there at 2am is necessary.  It seems the guard gets there at least by 2 am in the morning in front of the haiku entrance.  So there is no point in trying to beat the guard.  I would recommend arriving to park your car at 3:30 am and if you encounter the guard, just politely acknowledge and keep moving on.  She didn’t call the cops, although she threatened to.

Map

Step by step guide

1.  You can pretty much park anywhere on the streets but this is where we found ample of parking:46-24 Kuneki Pl, Kaneohe, HI 96744.   Needless to say, don’t block people’s drive ways or park in front of fire hydrants!   Be very quiet and don’t use flash lights in the neighborhood or you will risk the consequences of waking up the neighbors.

2.  Walk toward the entrance (5 minutes): https://goo.gl/maps/7omCxkwANx22  (red ping on the image).

3.  You gotta find a way around to climb around the gate from the right side (again, the red ping on the map image).

4.  After passing the gate, start walking, then you will find a split on the road, make a left here.

5.  Make a right at the next fork (left goes towards the school).  You may use your flashlight now.

  • Tip: if you encounter a 3rd split on the road, then you have gone too far.

6.  About 10 minutes more of walking, look on the left side for an opening into the woods.  It’ll be a short walk after the KAPU sign. It will be a man-made pathway/trail that cut through big trees. Walk through the dirt path and you’ll eventually get to a fence with the bottom half open, so just duck under it and continue. After 5 minutes you should see a second concrete road.

7.  Go left on the concrete road and walk down until you arrive at the security guard, she was in a car (<5 minutes).  I got this picture of the guard from yelp.  Once you see the guard’s car (it could be a different car) or port-a-potty, take a right and you will see a trail of step leading to the gate to the stairs.

guard picture

8.  The gate to the stairs.  There will be an opening around the right to get across the gate.  Voila, stairway to HEAVEN!

haiku fence

9.  3, 922 of steps from here, which should take you between 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the pace.  There will be 2 flat areas, where you can rest.

night view

  • Tips
    • The first person to go should keep a look out and clear the spider webs.  Maybe use a stick to clear the path ahead.  There could be really huge spiders on the stairs!
    • Respect the neighborhood and be quiet on the way back out too.
    • More tips

At the top, if you have extra time before the sun comes out, there is a little shack where you can rest.

top shack 3

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Amazing view during descent

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Please note that this is an illegal hike and you may be trespassing properties.  This blog post is by no means to encourage people to break laws and disobey authorities.  But if people are going to break laws anyways, this post will help understand how to get to the stairways in a quiet and safe manner without wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood and disturbing the community. Please be respectful of the residents here.  This is just a guide to help you guys out, and we are not responsible for any injuries or problems.