Adventure By Lisa Kahan

The Raw Beauty of the Rugged West Coast

The battle rages on. The Pacific Ocean does not rest, it does not relent, as it advances onto the rocky shoreline, sending battalions of waves at its opponent.

In defense, the coastline stands rigid and unyielding, yet after thousands of years, the scars are visible. This is the raw beauty of the Pacific Coast, where through the sheer force of wind and water, Mother Nature has carved one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world.

From the high cliffs that offer unfettered vistas to rocky shores strewn with boulders, and miles upon miles of golden sand, the Pacific Coast is a land of unimaginable beauty. On the following pages, we feature Big Sur and the coast of Oregon, places far away from the bustling cities, where nature still holds sway with such a spectacular bounty that it promises to overwhelm all who are lucky enough to experience its allure.


Few places in the world have the ability to awe as Big Sur. On this fabled coastline, dense redwood groves stretch skyward, the Santa Lucia Range dramatically plunges into the sea, and violent waves are beaten to froth on ragged rocks. It's a place of such elemental power, it can make human affairs seem inconsequential.

Stand atop one of the rugged cliffs, hundreds of feet above the crashing waves and at the edge of the continent, and you're sure to find yourself wondering with amazement at your own existence.

With a magnetic allure that is almost palpable, this roughly 90-mile-long stretch of redwood- and fog-trimmed coast between Carmel-by-the-Sea and San Simeon draws you in as it has countless others-most famously Walt Whitman, Henry Miller and Beat Generation darling Jack Kerouac, all of whom have written extensively about Big Sur. This is, quite simply, a place you must experience with all your senses.


At night, when the cool fog rolls in and the moon and stars play hide-and-seek in the sky, Big Sur takes on a mystical quality that has attracted writers and poets, dreamers and wanders for hundreds of years. Night bathing in the healing waters of the local hot springs has long been a tradition, and one shouldn't visit without taking a dip. The Esalen Hot Springs, sited on a precipice overlooking the ocean, is open to the public for several hours each night and is well known as a clothing-optional retreat where introspection and inspiration intertwine to form a quintessential California experience.


Cold choppy water, strong blustery winds and ferocious storms batter the coast, driving away the crowds and Gidget beach culture found further south. What's left is the pristine beauty of wild shores and sandy coves, dramatic cliffs and epic sand dunes-all of which stretch for mile upon mile of publically owned land.


Where the sea meets the land-Oregon locals call it "the Edge." This understatement belies the epic nature of what's being described: the end of a vast continent, the beginning of a great ocean. Nature, however, rises to the occasion in a riotous celebration of scenic splendor-an unforgettable montage of sea, sky and spruce.

There is no end to the spectacular here, from the sight of bald eagles circling overhead to some of the largest sand dunes in the world. One of the most surprising gems, however, is Thor's Well, found on a quiet beach off Cape Perpetua. This natural sinkhole, carved from the surrounding rock, seemingly inhales the tide before spewing the foamy seawater back out in a violent rush that can reach up to twenty feet high. This wondrous sight, set against the backdrop of the rugged shoreline and Pacific Ocean, never ceases to thrill.

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