I can’t say enough about this glorious area of the California coast. It feels almost too perfect to be real. Big Sur is the embodiment of yin and yang: a heady mixture of good and evil – at least when it comes to the landscape. One minute you could be standing on a beach so beautiful the sands look like small grains of amethyst. The next minute you’re standing on the edge of a precarious cliff overlooking a hoard of jagged rocks sticking from the shores like shards of sea glass. Now take everything I just described and set it against the background of glistening golden light that sparkles over the water – the kind of light only found on the West Coast. It’s too good.
So, is Big Sur a place to elope? The short answer is yes, but I know you have more questions than that. Like:
- How do I plan an adventure elopement in Big Sur?
- What are some of the most beautiful photo locations in Big Sur we need to visit?
- What’s the best time to elope in Big Sur?
I’ve spent so much time here that I know it like the back of my hand. Which is why you should hire me for all your Big Sur elopement photography needs. But we’ll get to that later. For now, this is my adventure elopement guide to Big Sur, CA.
Being so beautiful, this location is wildly popular with tourists, so finding a time for eloping in Big Sur that’s not packed with people really only leaves the winter months – which, depending on the aesthetic you’re going for, could be amazing. Since it’s California, even the coldest colds usually only drop to the 30s and 40s, which means pulling off a coastal winter scene is a definite possibility. But if winter isn’t your thing, be prepared to encounter tourists, as the area sees anywhere between five to seven million people a year.
The amazing landscapes, the gorgeous sunsets, the tucked-away beach towns – Big Sur is probably one of the best places to take a road trip. There are dozens of spots to explore along the road. You can find an amazing view of the ocean, or an incredible deal on freshly harvested avocados. There are beach towns full of random shops stocked with local arts and crafts. There are farms where you can pick your own lavender, roses, or herbs to take home. Seaside restaurants are stocked with freshly caught seafood. No matter what time of year you go, it’s heaven. But because of all the amazing farm-fresh everything, either late spring or early fall would give you the chance to take advantage of either blossom or harvest time.
Let’s take a virtual road trip and see some of the spots that hold a special place in my heart.
The 17 Mile Drive
Though a three-hour drive might seem like a drag, when those three hours are spent exploring every twist and turn of 17 Mile Drive, it’s a true pleasure. This strip of road goes through one of the most exclusive (and of course, expensive) neighborhoods in the country. In fact, it’s so exclusive you have to pay 12 dollars to drive through it – but it is totally worth it!
Even if you never stop along the way, the drive itself is beautiful. But with world-class hotels, amazing restaurants, the infamous Pebble Beach golf course, and about a dozen more stops along the drive, you’ll want to stop often – which is why I say to plan for a three-hour trip. Plus, The Spanish Bay Inn is an amazing place to get married and have a quick cocktail before taking the 17 Mile Drive into the sunset.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
The first time I came to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, I stepped out of the car and was convinced there was an IG filter over my eyes. Every color popped with a little extra life. The water was the shade of blue crystals, and sparkled just as much. It was as if someone had turned the saturation all the way up to 100. It turns out that’s just how beautiful Point Lobos is.
That too-good-to-be-real appearance definitely makes it one of the most Instagrammable places in Big Sur, and a great place for elopement photography. There are some hiking trails scattered throughout the park that take you to cliffs with panoramic views, which we can definitely traverse to get you that perfect shot. As your elopement photographer Big Sur definitely keeps me on my toes, but I’ve got my boots on and I’m ready.
Henry Miller Memorial Library
I have a special place in my heart for anywhere or anyone that lets the inner nerd come out, and nothing nurtures that side of us more than a bookstore. Or in this case, a bookstore-slash-memorial library dedicated to one of Big Sur’s most famous writers: Henry Miller. Known for breaking convention and creating his own groundbreaking style of writing that blended together a range of styles and perspectives, the Henry Miller Memorial Library (HMML) does just that – blends a range of things together to create something… awesome.
This library is housed in an old-fashioned log cabin hidden right between a small forest of redwood trees. Though initially unassuming, you begin to notice books hanging from the branches of trees, art hanging in random places inside and outside, and depending on the day you show up, an aerialist swinging in the breeze. The HMML is known as an artist hub for an eclectic mixture of writers, painters, performers, and photographers who make the stop along the journey.
Also, shelves upon shelves of leatherbound books? One word. Hot.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Rounding out the list is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which is home to the Keyhole Arch – a massive rock formation not far off the tide line of the main beach area. The formation has this naturally eroded doorway, or keyhole, that tunnels clear through the rock. It’s almost surreal, especially at golden hour.
As if this natural wonder wasn’t enough, the sands of Pfeiffer beach are purple. That’s right – their hue is created by manganese garnet that washes down the mountain after rains. If we time it out just right, we’ll end up with blue waters, pink, purple, and orange skies, and violet sands. Something you can’t fake, no matter how many filters you use.
I’m ready for the road trip. So contact me today! Let’s grab our bags and see where this Big Sur elopement adventure will lead us.
Featured image by Spencer Davis on Unsplash