Beside the sea side–beside the sea (Ocean!)

18 Mar

Having moved further north a little swifter than we had anticipated we now have time to spare and it could not be in a better area.


A little history with an apology to those who already know this story….

On our very first trip out in haRVey in the Spring of 2009 we drove south on the I 5 almost to San Francisco, then cut across to the coast. We had intended to turn back on the Highway 1 route at this point but fate sent us to a campground at Anchor Bay where we met, and became friends with, the managers there at that time (Linda and Mark). We were persuaded by them that we must go further south, they gave us directions and names of places to visit. We already were impressed with the California coast but with their encouragement our exploration further south led us to places we thoroughly enjoyed and have never forgotten. I have wondered for a while if my recollection of this journey was coloured by the fact it was our first trip and all was new and exciting but I have long wished to return and revisit some of the places we saw before and fill in the gaps of some of the places we missed first time around.

El Capitan State Beach near Santa Barbara would give us access to a stretch of coast line as yet we had not explored. We were able to set our selves up in a camp site high above the Pacific Ocean on top of the cliffs with a lovely grassy area to our side.


This was a great vantage point for watching the pelicans gliding down the coast, looking out for passing whales and generally enjoying the view.

A cliff top or beach walk (at low tide) of about 2 miles each way brings you to Refugio State Beach so we decided it would be good exercise to go and explore. We had heard Refugio was nicer still than El Capitan.

The cliff path has collapsed part way along but is still passable with care (according to the camp hosts that is). We began our walk on the beach and then completed it via the cliff path after the collapsed area, just to be safe, also avoiding the possibility of a paddle around the rocky headland as the tide was not out quite far enough.


We did not see another person walking the whole two miles either on the beach or the cliff walk, there were the odd tell tale footprints in the sand showing we were not totally alone but it felt like it. Refugio State Beach, tucked in a south facing sheltered bay, is so pretty, like a tropical oasis with palm trees all around the beach, it would be difficult not to find it attractive. The campground is adjacent to the beach and at beach level too. We quickly decided we would walk back to El Capitan, collect haRVey and find a spot here for at least one night.



We drove around the sites to pick one large enough for us and with a good view. The ‘prime’ sites i.e. those with best view are $45 per night (no hook up) but for $35 we bagged a brilliant spot, sideways on to the beach but overlooking the grassy banks of the creek area. We were happy! just a very short stroll and we were on the beach.


We stayed a total of 3 nights which was more or less 4 whole days, walking on the sand, turning stones and peeking into tide pools. The sun shone mostly, the temperatures comfortable with a long sleeve top…. happy people!



The tides were very favourable for walking on the sand, on our second day the low tide was 10.30am it would be another 7 hours before high tide – perfect for a walk on the north west side of the beach. We would be able to get around the rocky outcrops and explore much further along the coast.


We love looking for ‘treasure’ on the beach, this might be anything that takes our fancy, P1250295a pretty or interesting stone, a shell, maybe a rock formation which intrigues us. It was this coast where we first became inquisitive about rocks, an interest which we have continued on our travels. We first saw star fish and sea anemone at Anchor Bay, and I found my very own tiny sea urchin shell.






On our exploration at Refugio we found very few shells, this portion of the coast has some very rough seas and high surf which I am supposing probably pounds the shells to sand very quickly.


We did see lots of mussels however!





a wonderful star fish!


As the week end approached the warnings on the weather forecast became increasingly disturbing for dry camping. A very cold storm was due to sweep through the area from Friday night through to Monday. Rain, much needed and anticipated with excitement by the locals, particularly the farmers did not excite us! Robert did a little internet research and found us a camp ground in Lompoc with full hook up where we could ride out the storm.



One Response to “Beside the sea side–beside the sea (Ocean!)”

  1. Katy March 19, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Everything looks so beautiful!

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