Picture sunny blue skies, a beautiful beach, and a cascading waterfall flowing right onto the sandy shores. You won’t have to travel far to see this gem. McWay Falls in Big Sur is one of California’s most surreal locations.
Chances are, you've seen photographs of McWay Falls on Instagram before. It’s just as beautiful in person! The color of the water is bright turquoise. The sharp rocks, dense forest surroundings, and the white foam from the lapping waves on the shore make it all so magical.
The hike to McWay Falls is super easy. The best way to get there is to take Falls Trail by Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. There is a $10 fee to park there.
The trail will lead under Pacific Coast Highway through a tunnel to the other side. While there’s pull-outs for parking on Highway 1, using Falls Trail is safer than parking on the main road and offers better views.
Due to cliff erosion and safety reasons, visitors are not permitted on the beach below. Those who ignore the signs posted will be fined.
After you exit the tunnel, you’ll walk along a path on the bluff. From here, you’ll be able to see breathtaking views of the 80-foot McWay Falls cascading down onto the shores below. It’s so beautiful that you’ll want to stop and stay awhile.
If you want to spend more time in the park, Canyon Trail has plenty of scenic lookout points. You can even pack a picnic and eat at one of the many benches.
There’s also Partington Cove Trail about two miles further up the road. The path will lead you to a tunnel-accessed cove and a lovely small beach where you can go right down to the sand and soak up the lovely views.
McWay Falls in Big Sur has some of California's most iconic hikes. Come check out the views and make some memories.
McWay Falls: Big Sur
Location: Highway 1, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA 93920
Price: Free parking on Highway 1 or $10 via Falls Trail
Why you should go: You’ll see amazing views of an 80-foot turquoise waterfall cascading onto the beach.
Editor's note: Please respect the posted signs.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.