If you’re ever in the Big Sur area it is imperative you take the time to check out Jade Cove Beach. Often regarded as “where the mountains meet the sea,” this area of land was known to the natives as the edge of the world, and the name makes sense once you experience the area for yourself. If you’re driving up and down Highway 1 through Big Sur there is a secret stop along the way that leads from the main road where you can find an abundance of serpentine and jade.
Looking through an environmental and cinematic lens. Jade Cove is named after the smooth stone that is often found along rocky beaches after a storm. Jade Cove lies 27 miles south of the main settlement in Big Sur, and just two miles south of Sand Dollar Beach. It’s parallel to an eroding beach cliff and can be characterized as a depositional coast as it is characterized by the abundant sediment.
Before embarking on the beautiful hike to get to the beach, it’s important that you wear sturdy shoes as the sediment is very rocky. The stones you will come across come in a variety of colors such as grayish green, emerald green, black, red, blue, and if you’re really lucky, white. If you’re not necessarily into the idea of rock gathering the hike alone is worth your time. The sediment on this beach can be classified as a mix of boulders, cobble, and gravel. You can find the rocky cove just south of the Sand Dollar Picnic Area on the southern Big Sur Coast.
It is also important to pay attention to Sea level when you’re embarking on the journey. If you time it right Jade Cove beach is a wonderful place to get a photographic masterpiece with the golden sunset in the background. There are only a few times per month where you can get this. If the low tide is within an hour of the sunset you’re going to get a great photo.
The wildlife along the Big Sur coast is awe inspiring as you can see some of the rarest forms of life in the world such as Blue whales, California condors, peregrine falcons, elephant seals, and the occasional mountain lion. However there is a plethora of elephant seals and it’s important to make sure you don’t mistake them for boulders as you walk along the rocky sediment!
The culture surrounding West Beach encompasses the vibrant west coast lifestyle that so many associate with California. The mecca of business-orientated beaches in the area, accompanied by a multitude of hotels, restaurants and situated between Stearn’s Wharf and the Sea Landing/Harbor, West Beach is a main tourist destination for those visiting Santa Barbara. The vast beach area plays host to a variety of activities such as sunbathing, swimming, picnics, kayaking, windsurfing, and the ever popular beach volleyball.
The family friendly environment also allows for easy access to the local bike path which goes along most of the Santa Barbara coast. Located adjacent to the Santa Barbara harbor, West Beach is in close proximity to a variety of boating activities such as outriggers, sailboats, and kayaks, which are easily accessible. Often windy during the afternoon hours, West Beach offers a great place for kite enthusiast of all ages to enjoy some fun. Dogs and alcohol are prohibited from being on the beach at all times.
Stearns Wharf is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Santa Barbara. Located in the middle of West Beach the pier offers a variety of fun activities. You can see the vast amount of marine life at the Santa Barbara Sea Center or rent fishing polls from the Stearn Wharf Bait & Tackle shop, fishing is allowed at the edge of the wharf. Stearns Wharf offers great restaurants with even better views. Satisfy your hunger with char-burgers at Char West, dine casually at Longboards, or eat fresh steak at Moby Dicks. The pier also has some of Santa Barbaras hidden gems such as tasty candy at Mother Stearns Candy Shop, and Ice Cream at the Great Pacific Ice Cream Company.
For safety and recreation purposes, Parks and Recreation staff groom the beach between May and October, and rake it between November and April. The recreation Division also provides beach lifeguards daily during the summertime months.
West Beach brings a vast amount of commerce into the Santa Barbara area. Although parking can often be a challenge during the busy summer months, there is still plenty along Cabrillo blvd which extends along the road behind the beach. If the many activities offered at West Beach aren’t enough for you, it’s only a 10 minute walk up State Street into downtown.
Butterfly beach along Channel Drive in Santa Barbara California.
Butterfly Beach is a beautiful beach that I visit often. It’s located at 1260 Channel Drive along the coast of Montecito, CA, just across from the Santa Barbara Four Seasons Biltmore. One of the most popular beaches in all of Santa Barbara, Butterfly is a community-based region where locals, tourist, and celebrities alike convene to enjoy one of the most abundant things California has to offer, sunshine! While observing what mother nature gave us, people are free to walk their dogs along the waters edge all while taking in the sweet smell of sand and salt-water. During times of lower tides, going east, it’s possible to walk all the way to east beach, which is near the heart of the downtown Santa Barbara nightlife and shopping areas. If walking isn’t your forte there is a fairly easy bike-path which runs from the Santa Barbara Pier to Butterfly Beach. If you choose to go towards the other direction, you’re going to walk to the popular Santa Barbara surf spot, Hammonds beach. If you choose to visit this gem, it’s recommended that you bring your own lunch, water, and sunscreen because there are no public facilities at the beach, adding to the alluring sense of it being a true locals beach.
Ritzy Montecito calls for celebrity sightings and stunning sunsets, which are abundant at Butterfly beach as it is one of the few west-facing beaches. I recommend that you stay late because there is always a good chance that when visiting, you will experience a sunset over the water. That is of course, if you’re not too sunburned from your wonderful day of relaxation (umbrellas are a good idea). Regardless, the sunsets that occur are often profound, and a sure bet for a great photo.