Despite pockets of "messy urban landscapes," much of this rugged coast remains "relatively untouched." Smart planning policies have preserved the environmental quality of the peninsula's beaches. “Small coastal communities retain their charm.”
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Between San Francisco and Santa Cruz lie miles and miles of undeveloped coastline. This is due to the stringent oversight of the California Coastal Commission, the strong teeth of the California Environmental Quality Act, and the success of public and private efforts to protect open space through acquisition and easements. Small coastal communities like Pescadero and Davenport retain their charm."
"California has done an excellent job preserving the quality of its coastal areas. State efforts have been aided by the attention and investment of local communities. In most cases, residents enjoy the coastal destinations as much as, or more than, visitors."
"Still a great place for seeing what California used to look like."
"The nature of tourism development is somewhat plastic and ranges from twee to Coney Island. There doesn't seem to be a conscious effort to inform visitors about the natural and historical heritage around them."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.