A Caribbean California Coastline

Big Sur’s winding roads, plunging cliffs and canyon-spanning bridges may cause nausea but they provide some of the most striking scenery in the country. After miles of lush green forests and sapphire blue oceans, the palm trees and turquoise waters of McWay Falls are a surprising anomaly.

The vantage point for the waterfall, one of the few in the world that flows directly into the ocean, is a short walk along a pathway from the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park parking lot. After taking in the island paradise, turn around for a view of the jagged north coast and don’t forget to look up the hill to discover remains of an old ranch home, the “Waterfall House”.

On the way back, pass the tunnel and continue south for a not-as-well-known view over the top of the falls. For those with more time, get closer to nature and enter the Canyon / Edwoldsen Trail on the opposite end of the parking lot to enjoy a magical creekside walk under the tall canopy of redwoods to a much different waterfall, Canyon Falls.

Tip: To save on the $10 parking fee, it is common to park alongside the road just outside the entrance.

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