Piedras Blanca

2467 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel


Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

“It looks like rain,” says my companion glumly.
The road has brought us down from California’s ‘Big Sur’ to this gentler rolling coastline. But why the barbed wire fencing? I wonder. Why these ‘no parking’ signs? What are they trying to hide from us? On ‘Big Sur’ we had ‘vista points’ to enable us to stop and view the craggy cliffs that overlook the white surf crashing on the rocks below. But now that the road is safer, easier, we are not allowed stop.
A few cars are parked though, and we pass a Highway Patrol car that has stopped too. The patrolman is noting car numbers.
We round a bend and I look across to a beach where there are what appear to be smooth rocks scattered across the sand.
“Stop!” I shout to my companion who, quite rightly, is concentrating on his driving. “Seals!” I add by way of explanation.
I have read in my guidebook that elephant seals come to this part of the coast to rest, to moult and to breed. I had hope we might see them, but I know from experience that wildlife does not always read the same guide books as me.
My companion slows the car. “I can’t park here,” he says, looking at the signs and the barbed wire.
“Turn round and go back,” I suggest.
He does a three point turn and drives back past where there the patrol man is now talking to one of the illegal drivers. We continue to a sign saying ‘Piedras Blancas’. The low building might in summer be a shop or restaurant, but now in January it looks unoccupied. We can park here and there is a footpath indicating ‘beach’.
“It’s raining,” I say as we get out. The sky has darkened.
By the beach is uniformed ranger in a truck. He tells us, yes it’s okay to look, but we must keep our distance.
The elephant seals lie supine, their bulk spreading, heavy and cumbersome, on the sand.
We stand and watch.
There are huge bulls with the ugly pendulous noses that give the species its name. They posture and threaten, opening their mouths and throwing back their heads to fill the air with a cacophony of barks and roars. They rear up to crash their weight, one against another, blubber vibrating in waves with every movement.
There are females lying alongside their pups whose dark pelts contrast with those of their parents. Most are suckling, but I fix on one lone infant, who barks anxiously for its mother.
My companion clicks his camera.
Gulls wheel and dip overhead. Waiting and hoping for what? Another afterbirth? A dead pup?
The rain is pounding now. My companion tucks his camera under his jacket. “We’d better go,” he says.
I don’t want to leave this extraordinary annual event that I feel so privileged to be witnessing. “I don’t mind,” I say as the water runs down my neck.
Neither, I think, do the seals.

Silver Travel Advisor

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.