A California Beach Town Lost in Time
Story & photographs by Greg Aragon
Coast is littered with lost beaches, craggy rock formations, forgotten
coves and rolling hills. Hidden amongst these natural wonders is the
small town of Cayucos, where time has slowed and a classic 1960s beach
village vibe permeates the air like fog through an historic pier.
A friend and I discovered Cayucos last week when we
booked a stay at the Shoreline
Inn, a charming, family-owned motel that sits on the sand, mere
steps from the beach. Here we checked into a ocean-front room, with
incredible views of the town's historic pier to the north and the giant,
Bay rock about four nautical miles to the south.
The Shoreline Inn in Cayucos sits on beach, steps
from the sand
After unpacking we opened the glass door to our patio
and found a sitting area overlooking a large green lawn and an uncrowded
beach about 30 feet away. This was an invite we couldn't resist, so
we quickly took off our shoes and hit the sand. The first thing we noticed
besides the obvious natural beauty surrounding us was
an abundance of playful dogs and their owners, along with treasure seekers
scanning the beach for sea glass.
Because of unique geography, many beaches along California's
Central Coast are rewarded with sea glass. These colorful gems come
from fragments of glass bottles that make their way into the ocean,
where they are tumbled through sand and waves for years until turned
into smooth pieces of ocean-made jewelry and showcased on the beach
by Mother Nature. Cayucos sea glass is so notable that the city hosts
an annual festival each March honoring it with hand-made jewelry, music,
food and more.
Cayucos Beach is a favorite spot for sea glass hunters
and dog lovers
After hunting for sea glass, we walked along the sand
toward the historic Cayucos Pier, which was originally built in 1872
and was restored last year. Along the way, we were lured by the aroma
of fresh smoked fish to Ruddell's
Smokehouse. Located in a tiny shack, Ruddell's has been serving
locals and out-of-towners since 1980. For our lunch, we devoured a couple
smoked albacore and shrimp tacos on flour tortillas, with a subtle gourmet
sauce, tomatoes, and a mix of red leaf lettuce, apples, celery, carrots,
and green onion. The food was so good, we bought a package of smoked
salmon for the road.
Ruddell's is a great spot for fresh smoked fish
After lunch we continued our walk and followed Ocean
Ave, the town's main street, to the end of town, until the road winded
between a black, rocky coastline and lush green hills dotted with goats,
cattle and yellow and orange wildflowers. It was here we found Estero
Bluffs State Park and hiked through a majestic preserve, dedicated to
protecting the diverse local area of the Pacific Coast, with its wetlands,
low bluffs and coastal terraces punctuated by a number of perennial
and intermittent streams.
Cayucos is a classic, California beach town
For dinner we found Duckies
Chowder House, located next to the pier and the town's signature
dolphin statue. Our meal included a delicious bowl of clam chowder and
a tasty plate of fried fish, shrimp, oysters, calamari and clam strips
with French fries and a cold beer.
Back at Shoreline Inn, we sat on our patio and watched
the sun set behind the pier, as playful pooches chased seagulls into
the surf. In the morning, we enjoyed the inn's complimentary continental
breakfast, with cereals, toast, eggs, fresh pastries, juice, coffee,
and that gorgeous, ever-present view of the ocean and pier.
Cayucos Pier is a beautiful backdrop to town
After breakfast we strolled through town to the Cayucos
Visitor's Center and History Museum, where we met Laila Kollmann, owner
of the Shoreline Inn and one of the town's friendliest and most knowledgeable
ambassadors. While at the museum, Kollmann walked us through some of
the current exhibits and told us about the town's rich history.
The town gets its name from the Chumash plank canoe,
called "tomolor cayuco"
Originally inhabited by the Chumash Indians, the town
gets its name from the Chumash plank canoe, called tomolor cayuco.
Cayucos were small fishing boats similar to those used by the Aleuts
during sea otter hunts along. The town of Cayucos was founded by Captain
James Cass, who built the town's original pier in 1872, along with its
first store and warehouse, which provided commerce throughout the coastal
communities. A current exhibit at the museum is dedicated to Cass.
Cayucos is located six miles north of Morro Bay on Highway
1. For more information on the town, visit: www.highway1discoveryroute.com;
for more information on the Shoreline Inn, visit: www.cayucosshorelineinn.com.
and California's Central Coast in the Fall; Santa
Barbara Scrumptious; Escape
to Morro Bay; California's
Central Coast: A Tale of Three Cities; Oyster
Festival, Morro Bay; Classic
California on the Central Coast