California Girl Discovers Sweet Spot by Sea in Carmel

Story and photos by Briana Westmacott, Wake and Wander Contributor

I’m a California girl, truly the epitome of it. I was born in Southern California, raised in Northern California and I now reside in Central California. I mean you really can’t get more California than that. And so, when I say that I have discovered a sweet spot in CA, you can rest assured I’ve done my research—the best research possible, I’m living it. My recent trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea proved to be sweet beyond words… but I’ll try.

Carmel by the Sea Central California
Briana enjoying the day at Carmel Beach. Photo by Wake and Wander.

Tucked neatly into the middle part of California, Carmel-by-the-Sea is not easily accessible. It is situated between the majestic Pacific Ocean on one side and the sweeping Carmel Valley on the other. This is a good thing, in my book. Carmel is quaint and quiet and quite romantic. The entire area is contained within a one square mile radius. People there exist without addresses. All homes, inns, cottages and shops are defined and found by their names. On my morning run, I jogged past a house called “The Dreaming Cottage” and all I could think was that I hope one day I can live in a residence that is defined as such.

The area is insanely beautiful; let me try to paint this picture for you. The ocean is blue-green. Not the color you find in the tropics, but more like a deep sapphire blue with hints of aquamarine. Rock cliffs jet up and evergreen Cypress trees adorn their tips. Marine life flourishes off the coastline with dolphins, whales and seal lions in abundance. The air is crisp and clean and blue. My eyes ached when I saw the sunset over Carmel Beach. I’m not sure there are many other places on this earth that exhibit such beauty with the same grace.

We dug our feet into the shores. We discovered winding roads that enabled us to lose our way. We devoured delicacies from the sea—calamari, mussels, sea scallops and more. We made a fire in the sand and watched the stars rise. And, we fell in love with Carmel-by-the-Sea.

You want to go? Here are the details:

Dwelling: The Hosfas House will provide you with all the tools you need to enjoy each and every part of your journey, along with a sweet view. Etched into the side of the hill, all windows point toward the sea. Their rooms are spacious with kitchenettes in each one and their hospitality made us feel like we really were at home. They will even give you a kit to set up your own bonfire on the beach.

Dining: Mundaka (named after a surf spot in Spain) is the place for Tapas and drinks. We thoroughly enjoyed the Paella and Sangria and the artsy ambiance from this local favorite.

The Rio Grill has the best homemade cocktails (The Rio Rita is fabulous) and their creative southwestern cuisine is truly something to taste. The crispy pork shank with red-pepper mashed potatoes, chili verde and apple-jicama slaw was unforgettable. Go for lunch or dinner… but be sure to go!

Doings: There are many, many things to do on the Monterey Penninsula. Golf galore and, of course, The Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row is worth checking out. While down on Cannery Row, look for all the words and wonderings left around by native John Steinbeck and check out his museum for many more good stories. In Carmel-by-the-Sea everything is within walking distance. You can hit up wine tasting rooms, stroll through art galleries, and discover unique boutiques, all on foot. Not many places in California allow you to have a bonfire and drinks on the beach. Be sure to pack your firewood and head down to Carmel Beach for a lingering sunset/moon rise. Bring your wine and take your time. It’s pretty sweet.

Carmel by the Sea Central California
The sunset from our balcony at The Hosfas House. Photo by Wake and Wander.
Carmel by the Sea Central California
Carmel Beach. Photo by Wake and Wander.
Carmel by the Sea Central California
Paella at Mundaka. Photo by Wake and Wander.
Hofsas House in Carmel. Photo by


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