Painting Odyssey: Bean Hollow, 2016

I cannot say enough about beautiful Bean Hollow and it’s accompanying Pebble Beach. It’s located directly alongside the Pacific Coast Highway, an accidental find on my first Painting Odyssey in June 2016. If you’re not watching the coast, you’ll drive right past it. Keep your eyes peeled for the sign indicating the small parking area, and when you see it, do not consider passing it by, though it’s possible you’ll never want to leave.


With the exception of the stairs leading from the small parking lot down to the sandstone of Pebble Beach, the landscape is virtually undisturbed.  Have your pick of sights: tide pools, the self-guided trail that runs along the San Mateo coast, wildlife (birds, seals, crabs, urchins, and according to Yelp photos, the occasional washed up whale carcass).  There’s also a multitude of tafoni, honeycomb-shaped coves filled with colorful surf-smoothed moonstones, jasper, and agate.  The sign will tell you to please leave the pebbles where they are. As there’s rarely anyone here, I suppose the final decision to comply is yours alone.

Back at the top of the stairs, you’ll find this little gem of a wooden bridge.  In my first few months of painting, I attempted to capture it on canvas.  It was not a tremendous success, but I intend to make another attempt in the year to come.  The pictures on this post are from my visit in November, 2016.  Look at the color of the wild flowers, still vibrating so late in the year!  Can you imagine what it looked like back in early summer?  I’ve got pictures from my visit in June as well, which I’ll post separately.  As for the quaint little house in the background with what looks to be a stovepipe chimney… that’s your bathroom!   So you’ve got lush scenery, simple coastal access and a clean, well-kept facility for when nature calls.  Who wouldn’t plein air paint here?

So much to see when you drive on the Pacific Coast Highway. Most California road trippers will mention Morro Bay, San Simeon, Bixby Bridge, Monterey and Big Sur. But Bean Hollow is my favorite spot of all. It may look like a tucked away little nothing from the road, but don’t be fooled. It’s one of the most beautiful, intimate and serene spots on the California coast. Have your canvas and paints ready to capture it!

Bean Hollow is open from 8am to sunset. It’s located on the San Mateo Coast, 17.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay and three miles south of Pescadero on Highway One. You can check with the California Department of Parks and Recreation for more info.

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