By Shawn Tracht
So just recently I was jonesing for new waves again, especially with summer on the Central Coast picking up hardly any of the steep south swells that were blowing up southern California and the Santa Cruz areas above us. I had done a little extra work, and saved up a few extra bucks, and off on the road we went again.
This time we called Bobby at the Lamplighter Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel. Now if you’ve never been to Carmel, to me, and especially my wife, it is one of the most quaint towns coupled with one of the prettiest beaches we’ve ever been to in all our travels around the world.
Bobby is the owner of the Lamplighter Inn B & B and has become a friend of mine. This is the exact reason why I always book rooms at his B & B, and why my wife and I love staying at B & B’s when we are scavenging for great locales of both waves and quaint family get-a-way towns up and down the coast. When you stay at a B & B, you not only get a free breakfast, which is one of the best parts, but you become a part of the hotel for the night. B & Bs are almost always family run, and their livelihood depends on the success of their Inn. For that reason, owners, like Bobby, and the rest of the staff make you a friend even though you’re in a foreign town.
As far as the rooms at the Lamplighter, they are a legitimate 10 out of 10 in my book. Storybook, English cottage styled on the outside, and, at least in our room, the Porpoise Room, the interior was sort of a Cape Cod decor that left my wife and I with jaws dropped and hearts warmed. We walked into our room in awe, having not taken a vacation that inspired us in a long time… Then my three year old pushed passed us and threw his bag of cars on the floor and my baby cried, but that didn’t ruin the night, the mood was already set.
At night, the wood burning fire place in the room was great for smores until the kids went to bed, then as it simmered down, the burning coals helped kept the room warm to a evening cup of coffee.
As far as proximity to surfing, the Lamplighter Inn is the best place in town for a surfer. It’s the closest hotel or Inn to Carmel Beach, only 3 blocks away. Not to mention that it has a killer outdoor shower for when you are done with your session and you walk back up the street, feet sandy, and hands cold. As for surf, this is one of my favorite beach breaks in California because of it’s crystal clear Hawaii-like water color, and the sublime backdrop of cascading wooded mountains to the south, on the Big Sur side. On it’s day, glassy and head high, this wave produces barrels and speedy walls as good as any beachie I’ve ever surfed. It’s often inconsistent, and when the wind comes up perfection is quickly eroded, but if you time the conditions right, this long beach has plenty of peaks to seek out a lonely wave to yourself.
On the romantic/stoke your wife and kids out side of things, proximity is also top-notch. Being that the B & B is right on the main drag, Ocean Blvd, it’s just an easy stroll, within a few blocks to the main shopping area.
One of the great restaurants we found and loved was The Flying Fish Grill. It sits uniquely cascaded down a small stairwell on Ocean Avenue and Mission Street.
Another one of our favorites restaurants, and maybe my son’s favorite due to desert cookie that was pan baked and as big as our plate, The Forge in the Forest, was not only family romantic, but family friendly for our small group of four.
Shopping-wise, guys, you must take your girlfriend or wife to Lush, a soap and body store, and I was stoked on Liquid Surf Shop, the surf shop in town (if you go by, tell the owner Sean we said hi, he’s a killer guy). As far as stoking out the kids, if they are old enough to surf and you want to get them out there in the water so you and the wife can have a couple minutes to yourself, send them to Learn to Surf with the Carmel Surf School” run by Noah Greenberg. Noah is one of the best surfers in the area, and a few of his camp instructors are professional surfer’s too (Johnny Craft to name one). Conversely, if you’re kids are small like ours, there is a quaint little toy store in the middle of town.
All in all, Carmel has become a go-to location for my family because of it’s quintessential vacation feel. Your mental trajectory slides softly into to another world and the stresses of your everyday life become left behind like your brief case that you finally set down in your home office. Clean, romantic, fun, and filled with epic beach break potential, Carmel is sure to satisfy all qualms on the western front.