My Experience on the Pacific Coast Highway
Alone. In San Francisco.
I needed to get to Los Angeles, 337 miles southeast. The bus was the simplest option, but I wanted to do it in style.
Before I knew it, I was cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible Ford Mustang, the wind whipping through my hair and sun beating down over the open ocean. Now that’s journeying in style! (Read the final section to find out how I managed this!)
I was on an adventure with a couple of new-found friends. We rented the car in San Francisco and spent the day driving along California’s epic coastline. It took longer than the bus, but was worth every single minute (by car the 450 mile PCH journey took around 10 hours).
We stopped at scenic points (see next section), enjoyed the views, then continued driving along this awesome road. On the approach into LA the sun started to set, turning the sky a deep orange – a fitting end to our epic adventure!
Check out this video I made about the day:
Top 3 places to stop on the Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most scenic roads in the World. Hugging the Californian coastline, it climbs, winds and dips past steep cliffs, pristine beaches, National Parks and epic viewpoints. Here are my top 3 picks for places to stop on the Pacific Coast Highway (specifically between San Fran & LA):
Half Moon Bay
Just out of San Fran, this is the place for chilling and fishing. Opposite the bay is Mavericks Beach – a spot famous for big-wave surfing. Enjoy watching the pros or have a go yourself if you dare!
Bixby Creek Bridge
One of the most scenic points along the entire route. This dramatic concrete bridge spans the gap between 2 steep cliffs, making for some fantastic photo opportunities. Parking is limited though, and gets extremely busy during weekends.
Elephant Seal Vista Point
Come and witness the wonderful nature along the Pacific Coast Highway. The viewing deck runs along the length of the main beach, where you can spot these huge and unique elephant seals. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to see males fighting (during mating season) or newborn pups. It’s free to enter and there’s free parking too.
By the way: when in LA, don’t forget to visit Venice Beach!
How to make your own Pacific Coast Highway road-trip
It all sounds great, right?
But what if – like me – you’re on your own? Maybe you can’t afford to rent a car by yourself – especially not a convertible Mustang! Or maybe your just want some company.
Well, here are my tips for finding other people to join you on an epic adventure!
It might sound old-school but it worked for me! Once in San Fran, I made a simple poster on my laptop and asked the hostel staff to print out a few copies. If you don’t have a laptop then make a few by hand!
I then put these posters up around the hostel in strategic locations for others to notice, such as in the common room, by reception and inside the lift (elevator). The poster just said something like “Pacific Coast Highway, looking for rental car buddies, contact me on xyz”. Make it eye-catching and wait for the calls to roll in!
If you’re staying somewhere other than a hostel, consider asking the staff if you can put a poster up on their noticeboard or at the reception desk.
Go to Bars
If you’re the sociable type then this one’s for you! Head to your local bar in San Fran and get asking around. Backpacker friendly bars will probably produce better results but you really never know.
Use Social Media
Nowadays it seems like there is a Facebook group for everything. This one might be a good place to start. Alternatively, search relevant hashtags on Instagram or Twitter and get contacting potential travel buddies!