We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Big Sur Itinerary

Brunei Darussalam
7 posts
Save Topic
Big Sur Itinerary

For August 2018. Plan is to go from SFO (for car rental) -> Half Moon Bay -> Santa Cruz -> Carmel -> Big Sur & back to SFO.

But we want to stay overnight at Half Moon Bay.

My question is, is it better to go to Big Sur first (without stopping) and stop at Half Moon Bay to stay overnight i.e. SFO - Big Sur - Carmel - Santa Cruz - HMB (overnight) - SFO

OR stay at HMB first and continue the journey the day after i.e. SFO - HMB (overnight) - Santa Cruz - Carmel - Big Sur - SFO?

4 replies to this topic
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
53,537 posts
149 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Big Sur Itinerary

Just to make sure we are on the same page. SFO is the airport -- SF is the city -- And when you ask if it is better -- are you flying in from Brunei, renting a car and driving to the Big Sur?

How many days are you spending in the Bay Area?

Why Half Moon Bay instead of staying in Monterey/Carmel?

Without knowing details. the big sur drive say until McWay falls and back is not a zip in and out drive -- it takes time if you want to see so at least 3-4 hours. Add Monterey and Santa Cruz to that and something has to give. So if you want to see the big sur, it is a full day

Please clarify

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
17,633 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Big Sur Itinerary

Half Moon Bay is about an hour from San Francisco, so if you stopped there to spend the night without doing any other sightseeing, that wouldn't make sense. So I think you have to do Plan A: SF - Big Sur - Carmel - Santa Cruz - HMB (overnight) - SF.

BUT, you're squishing entirely too much into that first day, with virtually nothing to do the second day. That's why most people stay in the Monterey area, so you can do:

Day 1: SF - Big Sur - Carmel/Monterey overnight

Day 2: More Carmel/Monterey - maybe Elkhorn Slough - Santa Cruz - HMB - SF

Now, if you really want to overnight somewhere lovely like the Ritz Carlton and that's why you're planning the stay in HMB, look into Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur -- it's even nicer!

Marina, California
Destination Expert
for Tucson
Level Contributor
6,486 posts
102 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Big Sur Itinerary

This is too much for one day.

It looks like you're trying to do a single day car rental and that's why you're staying in Half Moon Bay; so that it's quicker to get back to SFO the next morning. I think you would enjoy your trip a lot more if you paid for the extra day and spent the night in Monterey. There's a lot to see here. By just jetting down to Big Sur and then having to rush back up, you're really missing some wonderful coastline.

I prefer Big Sur in the late afternoon because I think the light is better (mountains to the east so very little sun until around midday) and there's less chance of fog. But the crowds tend to be thicker after about noon and the parking lots at the state parks fill up.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
28,921 posts
6,058 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Big Sur Itinerary

When does your flight get in?

If you are jet lagged its better to do Half Moon Bay first as closer to the airport.

Then drive down the coast to Big Sur.

Reply to: Big Sur Itinerary
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted