California’s Highway 1 is known for its beautiful scenic drive along the Pacific coastline. Just 40 miles south of Carmel and Monterey though, is a little hidden paradise called McWay Falls, that you imagine could only exist on a tropical island like Hawaii. McWay Falls is an 80-foot waterfall located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (not to be confused up with the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park just north) that flows year round into the emerald blue ocean. Originally, the waterfall cascaded directly into the ocean, but after a 1983 fire and 1985 landslides, the topography of McWay Cove was altered. The waterfall now only meets the ocean during high tides.

McWay Falls

From the parking lot, head down the westward trail towards the ocean. The half-mile trail will lead you through a short tunnel under Highway 1.  Once you exit the other side of the tunnel, you’ve arrived at the little hidden paradise. Although it can be viewed from the trail above, the beach below is inaccessible by land. Stay until sunset and catch the radiant sunlight bouncing off the vibrant orange cliffs. A view that surely makes this feel like a quick tropical escape without an expensive airfare.