Calla Lily Valley – the most memorable Pacific Coast Highway experience at the Garrapata State Beach.
Calla Lily Valley, Garrapata Beach is the most surreal spots on the Pacific Coast Highway, California. My wife and I really enjoyed shooting these flowers at the golden hour. It’s so magical it almost looks like a fairy tale. Located only a few hours away from San Francisco and only 20 minutes south of Carmel-By-The-Sea.
We’ve all been awwed by the viral sunset images of the Lilies from the Big Sur, at Garrapata Beach. Nonetheless, seeing the place in real life was one of the top experience while exploring California. I absolutely highly recommend visiting the place following California’s winter rain season. A photographer’s paradise by the beach – looks amazing during any time of the day, but most especially before the sunset.
I highly recommend shooting during the “Golden hour” if you’d like to create a professional looking image with as little effort as possible. Shooting Calla Lily Valley during the sunset would probably be the ideal time, some are even able to capture the golden sun orb in the composition.
In photography, the golden hour is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky.
Shooting in the morning might prove to be challenging since the valley is bordered by the Pacific Coast Highway and a near by Big Sur mountain range which might prevent the best lighting conditions. Furthermore, the Big Sur area is often covered by a light to thick layer of fog in the morning, adding to the difficulty level.
3 things to note while exploring Calla Lily Valley.
Note #1: Please be careful of the fragile stems and plants themselves. Narrow paths surrounding the stream are tricky to navigate and unfortunately due to major tourist inflow the natural wonder is being over exhausted. The plants are crumpled and might not survival for too long. There are many more Calla Lily Valleys along the PCH (especially underneath the bridges, including the Rocky Creek Bridge and the Bixby Bridge) however this spot is the most easily accessible.
Note #2: Beware of Nettle Plant which burns like hell and leaves urticaria “hives-like” pale-pink papules on the exposed skin areas. The plant sparsely grows in between Calla Lily flowers in a commensalism relation, protecting the fragile beautyof the Lily plant. Wearing pants and covered shoes should be enough protection.
Note #3: We wouldn’t recommend for little kids to walk around the “calla lily valley” on their own. The terrain is pretty treacherous and they may easily slip an fall into a small creek running in the middle. Little children might also easily burn by the Nettle Plant .
Types of Hives you might develop after touching the nettle plant
Parking at Calla Lily Valley
There’s no designated parking lot, besides a short stretch of a an unpaved shoulder. Parallel park on the Pacific Coast Highway. Keep in mind that parking is limited and thus arrive a bit in advance especially before sunset.
Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy the Garrapata Beach, which is very clean and actually “swimmable” – weather dependent.
Here are few pages for photo ideas.