Cayucos-by-the-Sea, California

Cayucos California coastline at sunset


Quiet, a great beach, a nice pier and good restaurants. Cayucos is a great beach town for kicking back and relaxing.

Evening view of Cayucos from sea

Cayucos-by-the-Sea – if you are looking for a party beach town with lots of night life and a constant swirl of activity – this beach town is not it.

That’s not to say it is dull and lifeless – Frommer Budget Travel magazine said that it is

“…one of the coolest small towns in America”.

I agree with that and Cayucos-by-the-sea is one of our favorite beach towns on the central coast.

The town sits on Estero Bay and is 6 miles north of Morro Bay and 13 miles south of Cambria along Highway 1.

Quick Facts

County: San Luis Obispo
Population: 2,592 (2010)
Elevation: 12 ft.
Coordinates: 35.4495N, 120.90580W (the intersection of Cayucos Dr. and S. Ocean Ave.)
Zip Code: 93430
Area Code: 805
City Government: unincorporated; founded 1867 by Captain James Cass
Translation of the name “Cayucos”: from the Native American name for “canoe” or “kayak”.

Things to do in Cayucos || Cayucos Events || Cayucos Restaurants


Cayucos beach and Morro Rock from the Cayucos pier

As you can see from the photo to the right, Cayucos has a broad, sandy beach that’s great for all sorts of beach activities.

Cayucos has a sort of “cowboy” feel to it and it is often referred to as a “cowboy beach town”. That comes from its history with cattle ranching having been a major industry in the nineteenth century in the hills behind the town.

And that’s just another way of saying that Cayucos-by-the-Sea is “cool” and a “relaxed and laid-back” town.

Things to do in Cayucos

Cayucos as a “base of operations”

If your life outside of vacation time is hectic and harried – a stay here might be just the thing – taking walks on the beach, a stroll down to the end of the pier, a nap, dinner and a sunset.

If that’s way too relaxed for you, you can drive just a few miles up the road to Estero Bluffs State Park or Harmony Headlands State Park for a bit of hiking along some beautiful and pristine stretches of beach.

If you’re adventurous, you are only 9 miles south of the tiny berg of Harmony, where there is wine tasting and glass blowing and pottery.

Cambria is only another 5 miles past Harmony where there is great shopping, art galleries and more fine restaurants.

Or, from your beach hotel, you are only 20+ miles from the Paso Robles west-side wineries, which is an easy drive on Highway 46.

Sunset over the coast from the Highway 46


Highway 46 scenic drive

Even if you want to be a “beach-slug”, don’t miss this drive! It is one of the most beautiful in all of Central California. There are several turn-outs which afford spectacular views of the coast from Montana de Oro to Point Piedras Blancas.

If the coast isn’t fogged in (it sometimes happens even in summer) or even if it is, drive up there (only about 15 miles from Cayucos) about an hour before sunset and stake your spot to watch the sunset. You’ll be somewhere between 1200 and 1500 feet above sea level and you won’t believe the show you’ll see.

Then drive back down and have supper and a glass of Central California wine. Hardly gets any better than that…

Cayucos Events

A highlight of events in Cayucos-by-the-Sea – see this page for a full listing and details on the events below.


1 Carlin Soule’ Memorial Polar Bear Dip – festivities begin at 9:30am, dip at noon, Cayucos Pier


Valentine’s weekend – Chocolate Escapade and the 5th annual In Love with Cayucos Festival


Second weekend – Cayucos Sea Glass Festival – see this Photo of the Week archive page for our report on the 2012 event.



May 6, 2012 Antique Street Faire

May 19-20, 2012 Antique Insulators Show



Independence Day – sandcastle building, BBQ, parade and fireworks off the pier. It’s a really good show.

July 14 – 15 88th Annual Portuguese Celebration

July TBA Morro Rock to Cayucos Pier Run

Cayucos fireworks



September TBA Central Coast Woodcarvers 32nd Annual Show



November TBA 22nd Annual Cayucos Car Show

November TBA Annual Cayucos Wine & Food Festival


December TBA 5th Annual Christmas in Cayucos

A Sampling of Cayucos-by-the-sea Restaurants

Cass House Inn and Restaurant

A wonderful place to stay and eat.

The restaurant buys most of its ingredients from local producers – dairy, meat and produce. This gives you a wonderfully unique experience that allows you to have a truly “local” meal.

222 N. Ocean Ave. Cayucos, CA 93430 Phone: 805/995-3669

Ruddell's Smokehouse in Cayucos


Ruddell’s Smokehouse

101 D Street • Cayucos 805/995-5028

Like no place I’ve seen, Ruddell’s smokes and serves up tasty fish, meat and poultry with flavors from wood that is specially paired with the meat.

Tacos, sandwiches and smoked items by the pound – be sure to stop here for a Cayucos treat.

The Sea Shanty restaurant in CayucosThe Sea Shanty

296 South Ocean Avenue 805/995-3272

Breakfast, lunch and dinner – the Sea Shanty is a local favorite. Seafood and just plain good food is what the Sea Shanty specializes in.


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