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Activities in Big Sur


An Invitation to Inspiration

For centuries, the stunning beauty and powerful geography of Big Sur have beckoned artists, authors, musicians, thinkers and spiritual leaders seeking creative inspiration, personal transformation and inner well-being. Now, the Alila Experience Program extends a similar invitation to you, with workshops and activities designed to help you develop a deeper connection to yourself, your partner and the natural world.

We invite you to explore the following menu of workshops and discover which experiences most resonate with you. All workshops are focused on couples, but can be adapted to group and/or single participants. 

Please note that Alila Experiences are private experiences that must be purchased separately and are not inclusive of your stay. The following is a sample list—for the most current available experiences, and to book in advance, please contact guest relations at 800.628.6500 or email For a listing of Signature Activities included in your stay, please click here.

Chef Series

Our monthly Chef Series Dinners feature a full weekend of events with top culinary talents from our region and across the country. They include:

  • A VIP reception on Friday evening to meet the visiting chef

  • An educational event—such as a demonstration, class, or lecture—on Saturday morning

  • A multi-course dinner on Saturday night, prepared by the visiting chef with wine pairings

  • A breakfast/brunch event on Sunday morning featuring the chef’s personal go-to items for family and friends

  • A special gift

Chef Series Dinners support The Big Share, which distributes thousands of pounds of fresh food to Big Sur families through local sustainable gardening.

Private Guided Hikes: The Road Less Traveled

When you immerse yourself in the diverse beauty of majestic old-growth redwoods, cascading mountain streams, and the rugged Pacific coastline, you are more than a visitor to Big Sur—you become a part of this region’s story. In turn, it becomes a part of you, leaving an indelible impression that changes you forever. These private hiking excursions afford you the opportunity to not only have new experiences, but gain new perspectives.

  • Private Hike 2.5 to 3 hours, $125 pp

  • Half-Day Excursion 4 hours, $175 pp

  • The Robinson Jeffers Hike 2.5 to 3 hours, $125 pp

  • Big Sur Discovery Tour (driving and light hiking) 2.5 to 3-4 hours, $125/$175 pp

  • The Jack Kerouac Experience (driving tour on the Old Coast Road) 2.5 to 3 hours, $125 pp

  • Star Bathing Night Hike 1.5 to 2 hours, $150 pp

  • Wild Foraging Hike 2.5 to 3 hours, $225 pp

  • The Photography Hike Workshop 2.5 to 3 hours, $225 pp

  • The Big Sur Galleries Tour 2.5 to 3 hours, $225 pp

  • Spiritual Hiking Excursion and Hermitage Tour 4 hours, $250 pp

Big Sur Discovery Tour

This tour, designed for people or families who want a behind-the-scenes look at the Big Sur community, features a montage of our favorite places. Ride with us to the most beautiful beaches, unforgettable waterfalls and secret vistas of the amazing coastline—as well as spectacular redwood forests, where we will forage for edibles. All the while, we’ll engage in conversation about history, folklore, flora and fauna.

Duration: 2.5-3 hours/4 hours
Price: $125/$175 per person


This driving tour by Big Sur Guides and Hiking is a photographer's dream come true! Traverse the Old Coast Road – the original coastal highway stretching from Andrew Molera State Park to Bixby Bridge along a well-maintained dirt road offering vistas of the Ventana Wilderness. We'll picnic along the way saying hello along the way to old-growth redwoods and a variety of wildlife.

Duration: 2 hours
Price: $125 per person. Includes picnic lunch.


Exploration in Watercolor offers a basic understanding of materials and techniques to let paint and creativity flow. We begin with basic sketching from observation, delve into washes and translucent layers, and experiment with color theory.

Materials Fee: $15 per person
Session Fee: $295 per person, $350 per couple


This excursion provides a special focus on the intense spirituality one can experience here in Big Sur. Your senses will awaken among the cathedral-like redwoods, cascading waterfalls, wildlife, flora and fauna. You will learn about forest bathing and the powerful connections that nature can provide. Your spirit will soar as you take in the breathtaking beauty of the untamed Pacific Ocean, rugged coastline and rock formations. The experience culminates in a picnic lunch and tour of the New Camaldoli Hermitage property, which features unsurpassed ocean views and a serene chapel where you can pause to pray, reflect or simply admire the peaceful setting.


If the contrast between forest and sea excites you, this walk is for you. We will first make our way up through a twisting canyon with cascading waterfalls around every corner, surrounded by centuries-old redwoods. Eventually, we’ll arrive at a secret waterfall that few people have seen—and that you’ll never forget. Finally, our journey leads to the ocean, where we will have a picnic lunch on a jetty away from shore. Here, you might see the daily otter or harbor seal, not to mention the gray or humpback whales that often drop by for a visit. 

Duration: 3 hours
Price: $125 per person

E-Bike Tours

Available at 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. daily by advance reservation only

There are few better ways to experience the magnificent beauty of Big Sur than cruising up the Central Coast on a bike. Feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face while soaking in nature’s beauty on Ventana Big Sur’s e-bike tour in partnership with Big Sur Bike Tours. Guided by an expert, you’ll enjoy a backcountry adventure following the original wagon trail into Big Sur on the Old Coast Road, including a visit to the magical redwood groves along the Little Sur River, for an immersion into the area’s rich history and pristine environment.

Please note that this is not a smooth, easy ride, but it is suitable for all skill levels. While our e-bikes mean this is not a demanding activity in terms of fitness or endurance, the ride does include a fairly steep descent on loose gravel, and the trail can be muddy and/or dusty depending on weather conditions. Big Sur Bike Tours can tailor the ride based on the ability and preferences of group members.

Duration: 2 hours
Price: $250 per person

This experience requires a minimum of two guests. Reservations must be made at least three days in advance.

Pollinator Garden Experience

Pollinators are critical to our environment and ecosystems; the bounty of Big Sur simply would not exist without their efforts. They serve as an important reminder that small things can have outsized impacts, and that our own impact on nature is no small matter. On this visit to our pollinator garden, marvel at the role these insects and others play in the natural world. Consider your own place in the environment. Take a moment to understand how we all fit together—and how we can all work together. Lunch is included.  

Sacred Space in the Redwoods

A stone’s throw from your room, in a forest of 700-year-old California Coastal Redwoods, lies a place that is among the most sacred in Big Sur. Here, as you journey with our guide and look skyward at these resilient giants, you will become part of something bigger than yourself. 1.5 hours, $100 pp. Picnic lunch is included. Supports the Save the Redwoods League.

Astrology Readings

The stars can offer unique perspectives and unexpected insights—serving as a guide on life’s journey, bringing clarity to areas of conflict, and leading to new beginnings. What do the stars hold in store for you? A reading from our astrologer will provide the answers, along with a sense of celestial connection and discovery.


Feel the strong connection of body, mind, and nature as you replenish, find your center, and build strength. Our private yoga, tai chi, qi gong or meditation classes, available in group or individual formats, allow you to create a new beginning, or enhance your current wellness routine.

Circle of Life Meditation Experience

Enveloped in a natural ring of 100-year-old redwoods, discover the deep power of inner and outer peace—awakening your awareness, finding balance, and revitalizing your sense of connection with your surroundings. This inspiring guided journey for the spirit, body, and mind presents the opportunity to harness nature’s wisdom, explore new perspectives, and center yourself. (The trail is a mild to moderate 10-minute walk. Please bring water and wear supportive hiking shoes.)

The Art of the Cocktail

Artistry comes in many forms, whether you are putting brush to canvas, pen to paper, or even liquid to glass. The time-honored art of mixing cocktails allows for a blend of experimentation and tradition, from unique twists on old favorites to new concoctions driven by personal flair. Let your creativity shine and discover what flavors drive you as our resident mixologist shows you the tricks of the trade using locally crafted liquors and mixers along with fresh ingredients from our specialty “cocktail garden.”

Earth Working

Forge a stronger connection with the land, and a greater appreciation for what it provides, as you take clay in your hands and learn to work it into pottery with a local artist. Feeling the earth in your fingers, shaping it, giving it new purpose, is a moving experience—and your creation can be dried and glazed for you to keep, offering a lasting reminder of your time in Big Sur.

Painting in the Wild

Surrounded by redwoods, the Pacific crashing below, unleash your artistic side—not merely seeing a new perspective, but crafting your own. The canvas awaits your touch, your interpretation of the majesty of Big Sur. And our artist will serve as your guide, offering support for novices and experienced artists alike as you discover the joys of creating.

Savor Big Sur

Culinary journeys are as important as physical ones—they provide us with the same sense of adventure and discovery, the new experiences that lead to unexpected delights. Big Sur has long been renowned for its natural bounty, and this journey brings together favorites from several local purveyors: The Cheese Shop, Carmel Honey Company and Le P’tit Paysan wines. On The Sur House patio, you’ll enjoy a variety of cheeses, along with artisan baguettes and house-made seasonal jam.

Afternoon Tea

Discover the perfect blend of relaxation and nourishment as you take in the pure Big Sur air high above the sea, savoring a refined escape from the everyday with an exquisitely curated blooming tea and a selection of dishes incorporating local ingredients. It’s a unique opportunity to explore with your palate, your eyes, and your mind. Available Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday; booking must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

Glass House Dinners

Perched on the edge of the continent, looking out over the sea, the exquisite Glass House and its breathtaking views create a shared natural experience that leads to powerful connections. It is ideal for private dinners, with a prix-fixe menu and memories to last a lifetime.

The Universe Revealed

Rediscover your sense of awe—and purpose—as you peer into the reaches of the universe through the deep, rich darkness of the night sky above Big Sur. You’ll marvel at meteor showers and other celestial events, identify distant planets, and gain a new perspective on your place in the natural world. Guided by our resident astronomer, you can even capture the cosmos with your smartphone through a specially fitted telescope.

Journey to Discover Big Sur Jade

For centuries, Big Sur jade has been believed to possess the power to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. On a guided journey to a beach known to have jade deposits, you’ll learn about the gemstone’s calming and healing powers—perhaps even discovering them yourself—as you take part in sage-smudging rituals, meditation, and intention setting amid the natural beauty of Big Sur. 4 hours, $175 pp. Picnic lunch included.

Garden to Table

Everything has a source, a place where the journey begins. At Alila Ventana Big Sur, much of the food we serve comes from right here on the property and the surrounding area. Our Garden to Table experience is led by Becca, who will give you a hands-on opportunity to discover the diversity of our garden, harvest its bountiful vegetables, and dine on an exquisite meal prepared with the ingredients you delivered to the chef.

Classic Cars, Classic Highway

The drive through Big Sur on Highway 1 is nothing short of breathtaking—and the grandeur is even greater when your trip down this historic road is in a vehicle with a rich history of its own. Alila Ventana Big Sur has partnered with Monterey Touring Vehicles to provide access to a hand-selected fleet of 40 classics, from vintage Porsche Spyders to classic Volkswagen vans, for you to embark on a journey of the senses and the soul. You’ll see coves painted in shades of inviting blues and greens, mountains plunging into the sea, and native cypress trees that have taken on otherworldly shapes as they bend to natural forces. It’s a wild, remote beauty unlike anything most have ever experienced, leaving you to ponder the mysteries of the universe as you feel the twists and turns beneath you. Pricing starts at $400 for a half day rental.

Falconry Experience

Join Master Falconer Antonio Balestreri for an exciting introduction to hawks and falcons, where you'll learn about the role of raptors in the Big Sur environment, see a flight demonstration, have a meet-and-greet with the birds, enjoy photo opportunities and more. Private and group experiences include a "hawk walk," a short hike where you'll be accompanied by a special flying guest.

Duration: 90 minutes

Whale Watching Excursion

We are overjoyed at the sights and sounds of the Humpback, Orca, and Blue Whale all year long. However, as a special treat between the months of January and May, we have the opportunity to observe firsthand the annual migration in both directions of the California Gray Whale, to give birth in the warmer waters of Mexico.

Big Sur Guides & Hiking will lead you to specific viewing areas in hopes of visually capturing these whales on this wondrous voyage!

Early Morning Group Whale Watching Excursion: 9:00 am to 10:30 am
Duration and price: 1.5 hrs - $50 pp

Group Whale Watching Hiking Excursion: 11:30 am to 2:00 pm
Duration and price: 2.5 hours - $75 pp

Private Whale Watching Hiking Excursion:
Duration and price: 2.5 hours - $125 pp

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