Three Stacks and a Rock at Morro Bay and Cayucos

We always had the scenic coastal route in mind on our trip to Southern California, especially Highway 1 and Big Sur, between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

So after enjoying our time in LA, Beverly Hills, and Disneyland,

we started the next phase of our journey – the scenic route to Morro Bay. I didn’t know much about Morro Bay, other than it was roughly halfway to our next day’s destination, allowing for a slow drive and as many stops as we desired.

We were there by early afternoon and were hooked on the place after our first view of the rock.

We headed across the bay for a closer look at Morro Rock, at 564 ft. tall, one of 13 giant rocks that line the coast, the remaining plugs from ancient volcanos that eroded away 23 million years ago.

After admiring the rock, we turned back for another look into the bay and were treated to the largest number of sea otters we’ve ever seen frolicking in the wild. (click on the pictures in the gallery to enlarge.)

Behind them on the shore we saw three stacks.

We would learn more about them after dinner that night, where the food was delicious and the views superb.

As we were leaving the restaurant my husband asked a local what the stacks were.

“Smokestacks,” the man said and laughed.

Then he told us the story of the decommissioned stacks from an old powerplant and the controversy over whether to remove them or not. It was then I learned of Morro Bay’s nickname,’ Three Stacks and a Rock.’ My vote would be to leave them as to me they add character to this blue-collar beach town but it’s more likely they’ll be coming down.

The rock will remain but the city’s nickname will have to change.

We left Morro Bay the next day, stopping by Cayucos where I took time to explore the beach while Bob shopped in the collectible stores.

I was looking for jade. My mom had told me of the gemstones that were lying on the beaches for the taking, at least when she visited in the middle of the last century.

I appreciated the tip as there were indeed many beautiful stones dotting the beach.

But did I find jade? Only the rock knows for sure!

I loved the small towns of the central California Coast and if I had it to do over, I would have booked more time there. But many other adventures awaited us so we continued on to Big Sur, which I will save for next time.

~ Susanne

22 Comments on “Three Stacks and a Rock at Morro Bay and Cayucos

  1. California’s central coast is incredible and not overcrowded yet…it’s also only 40 minutes from the wine country there with some fun wineries as well!

    • Thanks John! It was such a fun place to discover, thanks to tips from you and mom! I hope to go back again someday and spend more time in the area. There’s so much we didn’t get to see and do!

  2. Looking forward to your post on Big Sur. We visited there several years ago and I loved the area. I’d like to return again for another stay.

    • The entire central coast was wonderful with the beaches, wildlife and small towns. Big Sur was the icing on top!

  3. Love the big rock in the bay and also the very colorful “jade” rock photos! Sounds like a very fun trip!

  4. I had just read somewhere about the possibility of the Morro Bay smokestacks being taken down. I would be so bummed if they were. To me, the smokestacks are synonymous with Morro Bay itself. Like something that’s always been there. But, alas, they probably will be a thing of the past. Good thing we have so many photos to remember them by!

    • The local told us the town was quite mixed on whether they should stay or go. Apparently there’s some penalty involved for PG & E in keeping them, but very expensive to bring them down. I thought they gave the town character. 😊

  5. Great photos, Susanne. That’s a wonderful stretch of coastline. I was only down there once but enjoyed every minute of it.

    • Thanks Graham, we’d taken the coastal route before but it had been many years ago. And I don’t remember stopping by Morro Bay which for me was a highlight. I loved everything about Hwy 1 including the wildlife and small towns.

  6. I love sea otters, and have never seen them except on TV. What a treat to see them in the wild and to be able to take those photos.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  7. Seeing those sea otters must have been a very special experience! The coastal views are lovely too, and if I were you I would be telling myself that is definitely jade πŸ˜€

    • It was a lovely stretch of coast and the sea otters were an unexpected treat! And yes, the rock is definitely jade! πŸ™‚πŸ˜„

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