“The Pacific Ocean is cold. Really cold. All the time. Don't go in without a wetsuit unless you're a sea lion.”By stroke of luck, my hubby and I had Friday afternoon off, and so we decided to see some of the sites near our new home. We live about 25 miles from the ocean, and, though we have lived here since October, we had yet to see it. That all changed on Friday when we made our trek down to Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Carmel is about 90 miles from our house, and maybe a third of that is at highway speed. We took the scenic route, down through Santa Cruz and around Monterey Bay. We stopped off at lovely and quiet Moss Landing Beach [ view hybrid map ] for an hour or so. This beach was in the center of Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz at the end of the arc to our north, and Monterey and Carmel jutting out at the opposite end. The gritty sand was hot, but the ocean breeze was absolutely perfect. We discovered something all the locals already knew: the Pacific Ocean is cold. Really cold. All the time. Don't go in without a wetsuit unless you're a sea lion. (More on that in my next post.) We hung out on the beach for an hour or so, called some folks back home to gloat, watched the brown pelicans skim the wavetops, and stared at the oversized surf splashing around before us. When it started to get hot, we moved on down Highway 1 to our final destination.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming little resort town just a hair south of Pebble Beach. [ View hybrid map. ] We drove around past the little cottages perched on the cliffs overlooking the quiet, sheltered beach, before finding a parking space near the cute downtown. There were some better-than-average shops, but the overall shopping experience was off the mark for me. Maybe if I were in the market for art, I would have been pleased with the dozens upon dozens of galleries. As it was, I rapidly grew disinterested in downtown, and the beach was calling.
When we got to the beach, I was surprised that all the people there were regular people, families, just enjoying the scenery. Folks were walking their dogs, playing catch, and reading books. It wasn't a fashion show by any means, as few folks were even wearing bathing suits. Most, like us, were just wearing shorts and t-shirts or sundresses. It was charming. The beach itself was steep as it transitioned from the rocky cliff down to the ocean, where it tapered off somewhat, but the sand was extremely fine and pleasant to walk on. Down the beach from us, some brave young souls were surfing. Surprisingly, some were even good at it. Up the beach a bit was a grass-covered cliff, manicured to perfection, that I can only presume was one of the world-famous Pebble Beach golf courses right on the ocean. How nice.
As the sun started its descent, we packed up our beach chairs and headed down the coast about 10 more miles. I'd heard of a restaurant called Rocky Point that is situated on a cliff and where every table has a stunning view of the ocean. They weren't lying. The view was amazing. The food wasn't too bad, either, and that's good, since it was on the pricey side. Still, it was the perfect way to end our first day at the beach in California.