If you’ve previously read Ambition Earth you’ll know that we drove the famous Highway 1 in California from Santa Monica to San Francisco. Highway 1, or the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) as it’s more commonly known offered some of the most beautiful coastal views we’ve ever experienced but it also offered something a little more special and unexpected, elephant seals!
San Simeon is a small California town that sits around 300 miles away from Santa Monica and the same from San Francisco. This means if you drove at a constant speed without stopping to see the coastline or enjoy the PCH experience you would arrive in around 3 hours. That would of course be incredibly boring as an inquisitive tourist so we wouldn’t recommend it!
In the end it took us around 5-6 hours to reach San Simeon having stopped for lunch and pulled into various vista points. As we approached San Simeon there was a car park on the side of the road so we pulled over to take a look.
The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
Approaching the sea-front the first hint that there was something to look at here was the noise – elephant seals make a lot of it! And not a particularly great noise either mind, more of a loud, grunting to one another!
On the beach it was amazing how many elephant seals there were; I was expecting there to only be a few for us to look at but there were in fact hundreds lining the coast which was a beautiful sight. The elephant seals here were of all ages and male and female. The information boards inform you that as the male seals reach maturity their ‘noses’ grow in length giving them their elephant name.
The elephant seals weren’t very active, choosing to simply lie in the sun and absorb some heat!
They were however a few territorial displays which were clearly between rival males and of course the occasional male chasing after a female!
There were also some baby elephant seals on the beach so if you’re into cute, baby animals / mammals this will be the perfect experience for you, assuming you head here at the right time of year!
Along the beach front there is a walkway where you can view the elephant seals along with information boards about them. If you’re travelling the Pacific Coast Highway with kids the elephant seals here will make for an absolutely perfect stop for the whole family!
The elephant seals were amazing to observe in their natural environment and with information about them available it was the perfect way to break up a long drive.
We can’t recommend highly enough that you make sure you stop here and pay the elephant seals a visit. You won’t regret it!
Are you planning to drive the Pacific Coast Highway this year? We’d love to hear your plans, let us know in the comments!