Bacara Resort & Spa

There’s a luxurious Mediterranean-style resort on California’s Central Coast featuring a cliff-hugging golf course with dazzling ocean views. Pebble, right?

No. Bacara.

Located just north of Santa Barbara, this secluded getaway on a 78-acre beachside bluff is a favorite of Hollywood celebs, who like to zip up the Pacific Coast Highway in their Porches. But for most everyone else, the resort flies under the radar.

That shouldn’t be the case given the beauty of the locale, the serenity of the resort, the quality of adjacent Sandpiper golf course—and two other really good layouts nearby, Glen Annie and Rancho San Marcos—plus the many other attractions in the area.

You won’t find many prettier courses than Sandpiper. Designed in the early 1970s by William F. Bell—who built some of Southern California’s most renowned courses, like Torrey Pines, with his father, William P. Bell—Sandpiper features seven holes perched in part above the Pacific, while every hole presents stunning views of the Santa Ynez Mountains to the east. Most memorable is the start of the back nine, where the ocean backdrops the infinity green at number 10, the 224-yard 11th drops 75 feet to the beach, and the par-five 13th plays along the cliffs.

The views from the village-style resort are just as impressive, as are the 358 rooms and suites, recently treated to a multi-million-dollar renovation that gave them a more inviting Spanish Mediterranean feel with upgraded furnishings and technology, including iPads in every room for lighting, climate control, and reservations. With a world-class spa and six different dining and drinking options, the tablets will be put to good use. Other amenities include four clay tennis courts (rare for California), three zero-edge salt-water pools, hiking trails, and a two-mile beach.

Throw in the perfect climate and the winery tours and tastings available in the nearby Santa Ynez Valley, and it’s unlikely Bacara will remain little-known for long.