Pebble Beach is known around the world as a course used periodically for the US Open. We knew we wanted to see the area even though neither of us plays golf. We probably won’t be starting lessons–rounds at the Pebble Beach links start at $575 assuming you are already a guest at the resort (Rooms start at $990/night).
Our first visit introduced us to the 17-Mile Drive, another highlight of the area. To get to any of the overlook points on the Pebble Beach headlands, or beaches encompassed by those headlands, you pay the $10.50 toll (per day, multiple entry). Having decided to go ahead and visit, we proceeded to look for the pebbly beach that is the area’s namesake. We hunt for sea glass on gravelly beaches, and I thought the original pebble beach might hold something for us.
There are signs directing visitors to parking. This being California, access to the shore is guaranteed by law, and no one, not even David Geffen, the Pebble Beach resort, or anyone else, can keep the public off the shore between the low and high tide lines.We actually found a marked coastal access pathway crossing the parking lot and heading down the side of the clubhouse to the sandy beach. Getting to the pebbly beach required crossing a short stretch of the course, so we looked both ways and scuttled across safely.
Pebble Beach and its surroundings is a golfer’s paradise, with a golf course around every corner, and spectacular coastal scenery beyond. We were curious about whether people actually play the holes that jut out along the cliffs, and they do. There were people teeing off from a tiny patch of green surrounded by rocks on the edge of a dropoff. Fortunately, they were hitting back toward land and not trying to drop a golfball onto a tiny green. It looks like that would be as difficult as landing a SpaceX module. Jonathan had his big moment at Pebble Beach, swinging his beach scoop/golf club for a perfect shot. We did find some beach glass. Not a lot, but worth the visit. We decided against lunch at the club house, and went home for a break.
Later in the afternoon, we resumed the 17-Mile Drive at the opposite end from the Pebble Beach Golf Club. To see all the stops, you need to drive the route counter-clockwise, more or less north to south, starting in Pacific Grove and heading toward Carmel by way of the cliffs. All the pullouts are on the water (southbound) side of the road.
We are not fans of the toll, but without it, the road would be very crowded most of the time. The roads are private in this area, and the toll both keeps them maintained, and cuts down on the number of people who visit. On Trip Advisor, reports are split between praise for the views and complaints that the coast here is no prettier than other stretches of seaside road where a toll is not charged.
We stopped at Moss Beach, and were rewarded by seeing a white-tailed kite. These birds are distinctive in the way they hover over one spot while they hunt, and what caught our eye was the bird hovering in place over the sand. They are a hunting bird, big as a hawk, and almost all white.
The day was overcast and the tide was low, with lots of shore birds wading along the beaches and on the rocks. Bird Rock is a favorite stop on the drive, though it isn’t covered with birds, but with seals and sea lions.
After Bird Rock, we stopped for a short visit to Fanshell Beach, then pushed on to Cypress Point. The Monterey Cypress trees here are one of the last stands of these trees in their native location, though they are widely planted elsewhere and thrive especially well in New Zealand. These cypress trees are often shaped by strong coastal winds that result in interesting irregular shapes. My photo is a grove of trees that is not much altered by the wind.
After Cypress Point, there is more coastline with views out to the southwest, and the Lone Cyprus, a tree growing on a stub of rock almost cut off from the shore.
By the time we made it past the Lone Cyprus, it was getting late. The sun sets too early for us in November, already down by 5 pm. We decided that our exploration of Pebble Beach is complete for now.