Coastal cruising through the Golden state

20 September 2019

Think of California and chances are you conjure up pictures of spectacular coastline, immaculate golden beaches, bustling seaside towns and of course, glorious sunshine.

California is home to some of the world’s premier coastal destinations and the best way to see them without missing the stunning vistas in between is by taking a once in a lifetime road trip and cruising down the Pacific coast.

Days 1-2: San Jose Arrival to Santa Cruz County

Touch down at San Jose International Airport and collect your car ready to hit the open road.

On California’s Central Coast is the beautiful seaside beach town of Santa Cruz. A visit here would not be complete without getting out onto the waves and mingling with the local surf community as you partake in the local pastime. When it’s time for a break, enjoy all the fun of the fair on Santa Cruz’s retro Beach Boardwalk amusement park, or take a stroll down Pacific Avenue and visit its vintage clothes stores, galleries and cafes.

Make sure you pack your binoculars for a day of wildlife spotting because Santa Cruz is a haven for marine wildlife with sea otters, sea lions, dolphins and grey whales all being known to frequent the area. 

Suggested hotel – Chaminade Resort & Spa


Day 3: Santa Cruz to Santa Monica 

Take the scenic drive down the Pacific coast and soak in the magnificence of your surroundings as you head south to Santa Monica.

The chic seaside city of Santa Monica promises year-round warm weather and a stunning beach to enjoy it on, with magnificent views across the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean. Combine that with the laid-back vibe and you’ve got a beach lovers paradise.

Suggested hotels – Shore / DoubleTree Suites by Hilton


Days 4-5: Santa Monica

After a day spent lounging on the beach, taking an evening stroll down the boardwalk will find you at Muscle Beach, the outdoor gym established in the 1930s, and made famous by bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Treat yourself to some retail therapy as you pick up unique artworks and eco-inspired houseware from Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place or visit the distinctive boutiques along Main Street. Dining in Santa Monica is a real treat, and presents you with a tough decision, thanks to the huge range of enticing culinary styles in such close proximity to one another. For gourmet outdoor farm to table dining, head to Tiato Market Garden Cafe and let the live music provide the soundtrack to your meal.

For more fairground fun, visit the unmistakable Pacific Park amusement park on Santa Monica Pier or visit the Looff Hippodrome on Newcomb Pier.

Day 6: Santa Monica to Newport Beach

Continue your journey just an hour or so south, into Orange County and Newport Beach; one of California’s most upmarket coastal towns. 

Upon arrival in Newport Beach, enjoy time spent around the large, boat-filled harbour and the Balboa Peninsula, a three mile stretch that splits the harbour from the powdery sand beaches. Indulge in the atmosphere of coastal sophistication and pay a visit to some of the ten distinct neighbourhoods that make up Newport Beach, and experience their unique personalities.

As the sun sets, embark on a sunset cruise for truly magical views across Corona Del Mar Beach.

Suggested hotels – Resort at Pelican Hill & Lido House


Day 7: Newport Beach to San Diego

Upon arrival in San Diego, head to the city’s immense Balboa Park for museums, performing arts, galleries, eye-catching gardenseye catching gardens and a fantastic artists’ colony – the Spanish Village Art Center. As the largest urban cultural park in the United States, Balboa Park thrills on many levels.

Following a day of sightseeing and luxuriating in the perennial San Diego sunshine, check out the city’s nightlife scene in the lively Gaslamp Quarter. Here, the walkable city blocks are packed with rooftop bars, fantastic restaurants and underground speakeasies. Alternatively, less than a mile away is Downtown’s thriving Little Italy neighborhood featuring the “Top Chef Alley” of celebrity restaurants, a thriving food hall and beautiful pedestrian piazza often featuring live music.

Suggested hotels – Catamaran Resort / Paradise Point


Days 8-9: San Diego

Visit the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum, which features an extensive array of military exhibits including jets, helicopters and flight simulators. In the afternoon make your way to the laid-back beachfront neighbourhood of Mission Beach. Here you can lounge on the immaculate sands, catch some surf on the breaking waves, join a game of volleyball or ride the Giant Dipper at Belmont Park.

On your final day, be sure to visit the beautiful coastal town of La Jolla to see the sea lion colony, dine at one of the many oceanview restaurants or shop in its many boutique stores.  Also on your agenda should be the neighborhood of Old Town where visitors can get a glimpse of what San Diego was like when it was first incorporated – not to mention get some of the best Mexican food in town!


To book your road trip down the magnificent Pacific coast of California, contact your Travel Counsellor today and take advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to support you before, during and even after your trip.


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