Destination: Treebones, Big Sur

Unplug and Tune In to Mother Nature On a Glamp Out

Treebones’ Autonomous Tent | Credit: Courtesy

I returned to Treebones Resort last month for a couple of nights of glamping on a remote stretch of coastline south of Big Sur proper. Treebones offers varying degrees of “roughing it,” from traditional camping sites, a human nest, and twig hut to the signature yurts and a luxurious autonomous tent. Whichever type you reserve, all guests get full access to their grounds and amenities including a pool, jacuzzi, and two excellent restaurants.

It had been at least a decade since the last time I stayed in one of Treebones’ tricked-out yurts, and I was delighted to find it was exactly as magical as I’d remembered. After getting checked in at the front desk, a staff member picked me up in the parking lot to transport me and my bags to my yurt. As the buggy climbed up the steep dirt pathway and the vastness of the Pacific came into full view, we talked local hiking trails, and he gave me the scoop on the next morning’s yoga class.

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I could barely contain my excitement as I arrived at ocean view yurt #9, perched on the perimeter and outfitted with a redwood deck and two Adirondack chairs. Inside, my spacious home away from home had a comfortable king-sized bed, seating area, dining nook, sink (with very fresh, drinkable water), and a fireplace-like heater that made early mornings and evenings extra cozy. Since these are canvas tents, it’s worth noting that sound carries, so while you may have a sense of privacy inside, discretion is necessary! Fortunately, the only raucous neighbors that woke me up at night were the sea lions down at one of the nearby beaches.

Going into the stay, I was a bit wary of the communal bathroom scenario. Unless you book the autonomous tent, you’ll be sharing shower and toilet facilities. I ended up feeling very safe between the hourly cleaning schedule, disinfecting spray bottles at every station and my fellow guests honoring the mask rules. And, while I’d normally dread a middle-of-the-night walk to the loo, at Treebones it simply served as another opportunity to gaze up at the Milky Way thanks to the absence of light pollution.

You always feel immersed in nature at Treebones, amplified by the fact that there’s no cell service. The views are ever-changing as the fog rolls in and out and the sun rises and sets. One evening at dusk, I encountered a regal looking deer nonchalantly drinking from one of the fountains. In the evenings, after the PCH traffic dies down, you can hear the ocean crashing below. 

Dinner at the Sushi Bar was exquisite.

My first night, I dined outside where the main Wild Coast Restaurant lunch and dinner service has been moved. No complaints about the sunset view — or the fresh halibut paired with Grassini Family Vineyards sauvignon blanc! The second night’s dinner was a revelation. At the time I booked my room, I took advantage of the option to reserve a seating at the intimate Sushi Bar that’s only open March through November. They reduced capacity to six people to create social distance, and it felt like private dining as course after course of Chef Yancy Knapp’s omakase menu rolled out and we peppered him and the sous chef/beverage guru with questions. The exquisite sushi, libations, personal service, conversation and curated soundtrack made it hands-down the best, most memorable meal I’d had since quarantine.

During my stay, I was looking to unplug and eke out every ounce of goodness at Treebones, so I didn’t venture off property. If you do want to explore more of Big Sur while in the vicinity, the hiking options are plentiful and Treebones provides a comprehensive list of trails. Big Sur Bakery and Nepenthe are classic stops for a bite to eat, and the Henry Miller Memorial Library bookstore is always worth a browse. A stay at Treebones will certainly give you a taste of why the legendary writer made Big Sur his “first real home in America.”

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