A drive on any part of the Pacific Coast Highway (US Highway 101), leads to many memorable West Coast coastal scenes.
California's 840 miles of shoreline starts in the south with San Diego, along with its Mediterranean climate and 70 miles worth of beaches.
The top picture shows a sea cave in La Jolla. Other points of interest include Cabrillo National Monument and Birch Aquarium.
Traveling north to the central California Coast provides visitors a variety of natural and man-made delights.
San Simeon, best known as being home to Hearst Castle, now a California state park, starts the journey. As long as the weather holds, traveling north along Highway 1 or Big Sur Coast Highway can also be a real treat.
Piedras Blancas, located about seven miles north of San Simeon, hosts an Elephant Seal Rookery, large marine mammals with swimming and diving abilities that rival whales.
January through March are the best times for seeing both males and females at the beach with the young pups.
The approximately fifty mile drive from Piedras Blancas to Monterey hugs the Pacific Ocean, providing ocean views to the west and views of Los Padres National Forests to the east.
Much of the remainder of the Big Sur Coast Highway route consists of hairpin turns up and down the coastal bluffs. A stop at any of the State Parks, restaurants or shops along the road is always recommended.
Traditional whale watching season runs from December through May. Look for signs announcing the Point Sur Lighthouse. It's open to the public.
Coastal Northern California also offers a variety of attractions. Point Arena sits on desolate region of coastal bluffs about one hundred and thirty miles north of San Francisco, at the south end of Mendocino County.
The drive to Point Arena from either the north or south is a slow going adventure, consisting of hairpin curves around the bluffs.
Whale watching, birding, surfing, fishing and a trip to the Point Arena Lighthouse, second picture, draw a diverse group of travelers.
California Redwoods country starts here and ends, roughly at Crescent City.
The city's crescent shaped harbor hosts a commercial and recreational fishing industry. It's also known as tsunami central. In 1964, a twenty one foot wall of water, generated by an Alaskan earthquake swept across the city.
Coastal Oregon should not be missed and the Oregon Lighthouses link provides more detailed information.
Crossing the four mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge, Astoria, Oregon, into Washington State starts the final leg of the West Coast journey.
Southern coastal Washington is filled with small communities and the larger Olympic National Park. Crossing into the Puget Sound area, the stormy oceans give way to calmer seas.
Whidbey Island, a large and thriving island community located in the Puget Sound just north of Seattle, typifies the area.
Island visitors can choose from a mix of art and nature related activities. Fishing, kayaking and whale watching rank among the more popular water related adventures.
As one of a few banana belt areas in the Pacific Northwest, visitors need not be overly concerned by being caught up in the famous Pacific Northwest rain.
The third picture shows a view of historic Fort Casey, a state park overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the west side of the Island. The Fort once served as the Puget Sound's first line of protection.
© 2002-2011 Patricia A. Michaels