Romantic
On the Beach is a surprising find on Central Coast

Everyone at some point in their relationship searches for that special romantic getaway — a place that has all the special touches, is easy to get to, and that will make just the right impression on the partner who will join you for this retreat from every day living.

Problem is, it can be a bit of a crapshoot making your selection. a view of On the Beachpier Everybody advertises with words like "romantic" and "special," but not all getaways will measure up to your standards. WHAT to do?

Sometimes, as with our recent trip to the Central California Coast, it's just the luck of the draw. We happened on a place called On the Beach Bed and Breakfast that, on the outside, looks a bit ordinary. But its location was perfect so we took a chance. We're glad we did.

We found our little diamond in the rough in the coastal village of Cayucos, a burg of a couple thousand people — most of whom seemed to be out of town during our spring visit. It's just north of Morro Bay and is located on Estero Bay, where you'll find top grade packing sand stretched out before you on a long, wide beach with waves that seemed to be created especially for mid-level surfers. The town is situated against a backdrop of the greenest hills you'll find in California. It's no wonder this is a favorite for California beach vacations.

The property's owners catalina island in all its gloryobviously have put a lot of thought into how to make the rooms memorable. Each room is about 50% larger than a standard hotel room, and the high ceilings add to the spacious feel. Balconies open to a wide view of the beach and the pier. With our second story unit, we felt secure enough to open the balcony door for the night and let the sounds of the ocean waves lull us into a very restful sleep.

Our first clue that this was a special place was the guestbook. We started reading through two years' worth of entries and began to blush. Not that it was X-rated, but let's just say if those walls could talk, they'd have a few stories to tell. One couple shared with future guests their experience of spending an entire 24 hours in the room, where they said they had plenty to keep them occupied. California beach vacations were never like this when we were kids.

It's a bathrobes-in-the-closet, chocolates-on-the-pillow kind of place, replete with the oversized whirlpool tub that, on high speed, pounds every one of your aching muscles back into shape. Special touches include plush pillow-top mattresses with elegant duvet style bedspreads and matching decorator pillows and shams. There is a hand-painted side table and two fabric-covered side chairs as well as a Queen Anne armchair with matching ottoman. Primp yourself in the freestanding full-length mirror. If you need a fireplace, you have one. Even the walls are unique — no ordinary wallpaper here, but Fortuni paper that helps to give the accommodations the look you would find in an exclusive boutique hotel.

We didn't feel we necessarily had to spend 24 straight hours in our room, so we were rather quick, really, to hop down to the beach and pier. The pier's a little like being on a boat — it's just rickety enough that the end of it sways while you are rethinking your decision to walk to the end of the pier. But the pier does offer a birds-eye view of the surfers below (which, I swear, spend 20 minutes paddling for every one minute they are riding), and it really gets exciting when they jump OFF the pier into frothy water so far below it was scary.

The requisite seagulls were out in force, helping to validate our seaside adventure and add to the overall ambience. The town is just two or three blocks long, depending on how you define a block. A couple doors up is Schooner's Wharf — highly recommended to us for dinner but closed for spring cleaning during the short time we were in Cayucos. Duckie's Chowder House was a good substitute though — superb clam chowder and great fish combinations served in rather unpretentious surroundings just footsteps from — you guessed it — the pier.

Note to husbands and boyfriends: The shops in Cayucos open kind of late so tell your significant other that you want to be sure and allow time for shopping and have scheduled shopping for very first thing in the morning so as not to miss it. Plan lunch in San Luis Obispo and, when the shops are — surprise — not open, explain to your significant other that, while you're deeply disappointed, you will need to get on the road in order to have time to explore San Luis Obispo.

There is plenty to do in Cayucos, so it's not mandatory to leave. The California Coastal Trail is a nine-mile round-trip hike through the bluffs and beaches of Cayucos. More beaches are down at the Cayucos State Beach. There's a fresh water pool at Hardie Park, which is a short walk from the inn. And, up the road about 25 miles is Hearst Castle.

From the looks of On the Beach guestbook, not many folks made it as far as Hearst Castle. A lot of the past guests seemed fairly content to limit their exploration to the inside of their room. At least it would seem that most people found this to be a very special romantic getaway indeed.

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: Cayucos is about 20 miles north of San Luis Obispo and just four miles from Morro Bay, where you will find many additional restaurants and tourist services, and where many people take their California beach vacations. On the Beach is easy to find in Cayucos. Just go to the pier.

WHAT: On the Beach is a rare find: great accommodations in a perfect place with friendly innkeepers. Rooms are surprisingly luxurious and well-appointed with mini-kitchen facilities. A whirlpool is in the room, and a hot tub is on the inn's roof top. The beach is out your door and window.

WHEN: Reasonably good year-round weather means this destination is good anytime. It's nippier in the winter and much cooler than beach temperatures in Southern California. But in spring and summer it warms up nicely. Midweek, you can pretty much have the place to yourself in the spring. Be sure to check ahead for travel deals and special vacation packages which can save you money.

WHY: It's a great getaway from either Los Angeles or San Francisco and is an ideal spot for your California vacation. A wonderful place to restore your spirit and forget about work.

HOW: Call the inn directly at 877-995-0800 or visit their website.


(Editor's note: CaliforniaWeekend.com is California's leading source of information on getaway travel in the Golden State. Visit the site often to find the latest getaway specials, a comprehensive list of resorts and lodgings and to use the Getaway Machine travel calculator to match up your needs and preferences with exactly the right lodgings and location.)

OTHER DESTINATIONS: If the Central Coast is your idea of a California vacationi, check out other California Weekend articles on Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara.

Find vacation information for Cayucos, California based on reviews from travelers like you.

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