Celebrating International Waterfall Day With A Golden State Escape

Mon, Jun 10, 2024 at 2:30PM

Celebrating International Waterfall Day With A Golden State Escape

On June 16 we celebrated International Waterfall Day and the stunning aquatic formations that cascade over rocks and lush green environs. There are many record-setting falls out there — from the tallest in the United States of America (that honor goes to Oloʻupena Falls in Hawaii) to the highest flow rate on the continent (that would be Niagara Falls). But in our book, the most beautiful waterfalls are unexpected, hidden gems you find off the beaten path — such as the majestic McWay Falls in Big Sur, California.

Fortunately, this stretch of The Golden State’s coastline is known for its rugged, painted charm you won’t find anywhere else — making it a great destination for boaters and those who would like to check out a one-of-a-kind waterfall along the way! If you’re looking for a special place to bring your Monterey pleasure boat this summer, just read on as we take a brief virtual tour of McWay Falls and the surrounding marine landscape.

Not Your Usual Waterfall

What makes McWay so special is that the Central California waterfall flows into the sea and not an inland body of water. This technically makes it a tidefall — one of very few such features on the entire continent of North America! Of course, that alone makes it worth the visit for anyone who has a special interest in the geography of the world’s beaches and oceans.

But there’s even more to appreciate. Another reason McWay stands out from other waterfalls? Well, just take a look at it for starters — it has the appearance of a remote island destination, like something you’d see in a storybook about amazing, imaginary places. But alas, this one is very real — even though it’s hard to imagine that you’re just a mere drive away from California’s bustling Bay Area, one of the most popular metropolitan spots in the country.

Wondering how to enjoy the view? For many visitors, the best way to see the tidefall in all its glory is actually going to be from a scenic overlook up top, where you can admire the water spilling into dazzling McWay Cove. From here, you’ll also be able to get a better look at the greater Pacific Ocean, framed by Big Sur’s characteristically rugged rock formations.

Boating Big Sur

Speaking of Big Sur...

This is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful areas of California — and given the immense splendor of the state, that’s quite the compliment! The region’s name is derived from Spanish settlers’ term for the previously unexplored wilderness of the state in its early days — “el país grande del sur,” or “big country of the south.” Today, of course, Big Sur has been explored and developed with modern conveniences (including gorgeous marinas and resorts to rest your boat and your head, respectively). But even so, Big Sur still boasts a back-to-nature charm that offers boaters reprieve from busier channels to the north and south.

With all of this being said, you’ll definitely want to set aside some quality time to explore the region in all of its glory. And of course, in our book, the very best way to do that is from the captain’s seat of your Monterey Boat. How else?

North of McWay Falls you’ll find Monterey Bay, a scenic coastline known for its abundance of marine wildlife. You can go whale-watching for humpback and minke whales on the ocean, or venture closer to shore with a kayak and see the smaller creatures who call the regional kelp forests “home,” such as sea lions, sea otters, and many more species.

The charm of Monterey Bay extends to the land, too! The waterfront is home to several communities that share your love of the water — and give you plenty to do as you dry off after a splashing day! Carmel-by-the-Sea is particularly unique, known for its old-world facades that make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a fairytale village. Grab some ice cream, shop for artisanal gifts, and follow the cobblestone streets to a local bed-and-breakfast where you can recharge before tomorrow’s adventure.

Beyond The Beach

On that note, it just so happens to be extremely easy to extend the on-the-water fun after you’ve thoroughly explored Big Sur. For example, another great spot to put on your itinerary is Morro Bay. Located farther down the coast from McWay Falls, this village is named for the unique volcanic rock that sits just off the beach — which is nearly 600 feet in height, and serves as a truly distinct point of interest on any boating excursion.

After soaking in the view from offshore, you can hop aboard a small vessel like a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard to keep on exploring the protected waters of Morro Bay itself. This area of California’s coastline is particularly well-known for its population of harbor seals, so keep an eye out for the adorable marine mammal during your travels. Of course, as is the case with any animal encounter, keep a safe distance and follow local guidelines for the best possible experience — for both you and the wildlife, too!

Who knew that one little waterfall could kick-start an adventure to so many interesting places across charming California? We hope that today’s guide helps you discover a new spot on your Golden State itinerary! From the captain’s seat of your Monterey Boat, you have a front-row ticket to some of the world’s most stunning on-the-water destinations — this summer and all year long.

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