Off-Gridding in Big Sur

The most appealing thing about Big Sur’s wild coastline is that there’s no cell phone service — a rarity these days.

Being out of range forced me to unplug and focus on one simple task: enjoying the natural world.

And that’s what Big Sur is all about.

Take Esalen Institute, for example. You can spend a week to a month at this cliff-side paradise learning about the healing power of yoga, the art of conflict resolution, or any number of other workshops aimed at self-improvement. If that’s not enough time off the grid, sign up for their year-long Work Study Program. Or, if you just happen to be passing through, book a starlight session in their hot-spring-fed tub overlooking the Pacific.

Just be sure to make reservations. Without them, you won’t get past the guard hut (I learned this the hard way!).

Ready for a more permanent change? Why not join the New Camaldoli Hermitage Christian Monk Center? Or, if you lean towards Buddhism, wend your way through the Ventana Wilderness, just inland from the Big Sur coast, and get lost at the Tassajara Zen Center for some relaxation and meditation.

Unfortunately, my friend Rachel and I only had one night to enjoy the tranquility. But did we ever. Between seal watching, beach hiking, camping, (attempted) surfing, and river lounging, we squeezed out every last ounce of tranquility we could.

Check out the photo gallery to see some of the highlights of our trip — and start making plans to visit this gem of the natural world soon!

Follow Shannon’s adventures on Twitter @CuriousTraveler and on Instagram @ShannonSwitzer

Shannon is photographing with an Olympus PEN E-PM1 and an Olympus Tough TG-820.



  1. JOHN D
    June 15, 2012, 11:00 am

    The waterfall in Big Sur is so amazing. I love that place, minus going in the water where the massive sharks are!

  2. Sanskash
    Kathmandu, Nepal
    June 15, 2012, 4:23 am

    That’s really nice.
    I love to travel such places.

  3. Shannon Switzer
    June 8, 2012, 3:29 am

    Thanks Katie and yes, Ben, I could see why the men in suits would be hunting around that spot!

  4. Ben
    Coronado, CA
    June 7, 2012, 9:24 pm

    San Simeon is the place where the great white bit the guys kayak a little while back. No wonder, there is a whole seal buffet for them to feast on!

  5. Ben
    Coronado, CA
    June 7, 2012, 9:23 pm

    I like the new slide show at the top, much easy to see the pics!

  6. Katie
    June 7, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Hey Shannon,
    These pics are gorgeous! Big Sur is definitely one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth… I’d love to go back and get off the grid for a bit too :)