Skip to main content

Go Out and Explore the Stunning Big Sur Waterfall

Go Out and Explore the Stunning Big Sur Waterfall

Discover the enchanting McWay Falls in Big Sur, a serene escape where an 80-foot waterfall meets the Pacific in a stunning display. Team


2 min read

November 07, 2023

Nestled along the Central Coast of California, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean, lies a natural wonder that captures the essence of California’s rugged beauty — the Big Sur Waterfall, also known as McWay Falls. This 80-foot tall waterfall, one of the few in the world that cascades directly into the ocean, offers a spectacle that seems like it's lifted straight from a storybook. The journey to this hidden gem is as breathtaking as the destination itself, inviting adventurers to step out and explore the wild, unspoiled charm of Big Sur.

A trip to McWay Falls is a pilgrimage to one of nature’s most enchanting artworks. The waterfall is situated within Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, named after a respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur country. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife and verdant woodland, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in an ancient redwood forest before reaching the waterfall.

As you drive down the serpentine Highway 1, you are greeted by vistas that are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Each twist and turn presents a new panoramic view of the rugged coastline and the infinite ocean beyond. Upon reaching the park, visitors find a well-marked trailhead that signals the start of their short but unforgettable trek to McWay Falls.

The stunning McWay Falls is a photographers dream.

The path to the waterfall is a window to the soul of Big Sur. It is an easy, half-mile round trip walk, accessible to most. The trail winds through tunnels of trees, over wooden bridges, and past the remnants of a historic house once belonging to Lathrop and Helen Hooper Brown, who generously donated the land for the park. As you approach the overlook, the sound of waves mingling with the rush of the falls crescendos.

The overlook provides a stunning view of McWay Cove. The falls itself is a silver ribbon that dances down a sheer cliff, pooling briefly into a sapphire-colored, inaccessible beach before merging with the mighty Pacific. The cove’s waters are a startlingly vibrant hue, due to the creek’s mineral-rich waters mixing with the saltwater, creating an almost otherworldly scene. The waterfall is perennial, flowing year-round, but is most dramatic during the rainy season when the water volume is at its peak.

There aren't a bunch of waterfalls in California, so its important to cherish and check out the ones that are here.

To protect this fragile ecosystem, access to the beach itself is prohibited. The beauty of McWay Falls can only be appreciated from afar, ensuring its preservation for generations to come. This restriction underscores a larger philosophy inherent to the Big Sur experience: to explore with a gentle footstep and a respectful heart.

The Big Sur Waterfall is a testament to the power and beauty of nature when left untamed and unrestricted. For those yearning for adventure or seeking solace, a visit to McWay Falls is a reminder of the grandeur that awaits when we choose to go out and explore. It’s a place where the land meets the sea, where horizons expand, and where the soul is reminded of the wild wonder our world holds.

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.

Need help with a home improvement project? Get a free quote today!

Enter Your Zip Code

Enter Your Zip Code

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We're committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that's just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section