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5 Incredible Beaches

Highway 1 Discovery Route Travel Blog

5 Incredible North Coast Beaches

Beach it this Summer in Ragged Point, San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos and Los Osos/Baywood Park. Our Stretch of Highway 1 is Open for Business and Wide Open to Roam!

It’s summer, time to beat the heat, crowds and traffic and head to the pristine beaches along the North Coast of the (H1DR). Each beach community, including Ragged Point, San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos and Los Osos/Baywood Park, has its own charm, natural wonders, vibrant culture, and unspoiled and uncrowded beaches, perfect for those seeking adventure and renewal. This unique stretch of Highway 1 is open for business and wide open to roam.

Ragged Point

Ragged Point Beach is so remote a breathtaking hike is needed to reach this black sandy beach. Known as the gateway to Big Sur, Ragged Point has the some look and feel only Ragged Point is open for business! The trail passes through a tunnel of trees then crosses a clearing before getting to the bluff near Ragged Point. The black sand beach is warm on a sunny day, and often only the shorebirds witness your arrival. Be sure to check the tide height, wave activity, and put on sunscreen before you hit the trail.

The Ragged Point Inn has lodging and a restaurant about 1.8 miles north of the Ragged Point Beach Trailhead.


San Simeon

San Simeon Cove is part of the W.R. Hearst State Beach and is a popular spot for picnics, kayaking and fishing and offers BBQ pits and picnic tables located near an 850-foot pier. A hiking trail out to San Simeon Point offers an enchanted walk along a wooded path on the bluffs above the beach. Lacy moss dangles from the eucalyptus, pines, cedars, and cypress that flank the trail. The point at the end of the half mile peninsula trail offers a backward look toward the sparkling cove with breathtaking views of rock formations carved by the sea.

The San Simeon cove has lots of active marine life to discover! Be sure to visit the Coastal Discovery Center or take a guided kayak tour from Sea For Yourself Kayak Tours.


Located within minutes of Hearst Castle, Big Sur and Paso Robles Wine Country, Cambria is best known for its picturesque windswept coastline. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy beach-front hiking, surfing, fishing and searching for sparkly Moonstones along Moonstone Beach. This stunning white sand beach boasts awe-inspiring central coast views that run north and south for miles and offers a plethora of lodging opportunities. There’s a wooden boardwalk that runs along the cliffs for nice sunset walks or morning jogs. After your beach adventure, there’s plenty of dining, wine tasting and shopping in the Village.


Cayucos State Beach is a three mile stretch of beach that starts in downtown Cayucos and runs south along an uncrowded sandy shoreline to the county’s most popular dog beach. Lined by hotels and vacation rentals, this wide flat beach is perfect for a day in the sun, kayaking, volleyball or a jog along the waves. You can even walk from the Cayucos beach all the way to the popular Morro Rock or get lost exploring the many great tide pools. The Cayucos Pier is a newly refurbished historic wooden fishing pier in downtown Cayucos offering excellent views of Estero Bay, the rolling hills, an occasional whale or dolphin and Morro Rock. Downtown Cayucos is filled with restaurants, antique shops and historic old western buildings and offers an annual list of popular events throughout the year.

Los Osos & Baywood Park

Los Osos is home to Montana de Oro State Park filled with secluded sandy beaches and ocean side bluffs perfect for hiking along the Pacific Coast. The park’s best-known beach is Spooner’s Cove, perfect for exploring and picnicking with family and friends; dogs are welcomed when on leash. This beautiful cove has a pebbly beach, tide pools, caves, and unique rock formations to climb around on, especially at lower tides. Naturalists and backpackers enjoy the solitude and freedom found along the park’s many trails. The park’s name means “Mountain of Gold,” named after the golden wildflowers that bloom in spring. Some of the most beautiful rocky beach vistas can be found here and along the whole H1DR.

You can also launch your paddle board or kayak to explore the Back Bay in Baywood. This is also an excellent spot for bird watching.

The Whale Trail

You’ll find a place on land to marvel at the Pacific Ocean’s amazing marine life from the shore at many H1DR beaches thanks to the new Whale Trail sites. The Whale Trail is series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. Today, there are more than 90 Whale Trail locations along the west coast, including the six new locations along the H1DR: the Avila Beach Pier, Cambria, Cayucos, San Simeon, Oceano and at Montaña de Oro State Park in Baywood-Los Osos. The 6 sites in Coastal San Luis Obispo County represents the largest cluster of sites on the Pacific Coast as it spans from California to British Columbia, and plans to extend from Baja California to Alaska by 2018. Check out this video!