Point Lobos State Preserve

Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey Bay, California

Swells and currents become hypnotizing at Point Lobos

Swells and currents become hypnotizing at Point Lobos

Point Lobos, Carmel

You probably already know how beautiful California's coastline is. Remember the feeling you got when you saw the California coast for your first time? Yeah, me neither, but imagine if you could feel that feeling again.

Okay now imagine if California's coastline was represented by a liquid. Imagine pouring this liquid in a pot and simmering it until you're left with a reduction. You're now have a thick and concentrated version of the coastline. This is Point Lobos. It takes all the beautiful parts of the California coast and puts it in just several square miles.

If you're visiting Monterey for the day with your friends or family, and are unsure what to do besides go to the aquarium, consider stopping by one of my personal favorite destinations in CA: Point Lobos. Point Lobos is a State Park and Natural Reserve in Carmel-By-The-Sea, a city about 15 minutes south of Monterey.

Point Lobos is a fabulous destination for those who love nature walks and wildlife. The way the sparkling clear blue water engages with the jagged cliffs leaves you refreshed and with a new perspective of beauty. Every step you take through the park becomes better as you smell the flowers and foliage, hear the rough ocean, and see the transparent crisp water turn white against rocks.

By the end of your walk you're left stunned and in awe. That’s why my friends and family always ask me “why are you so quiet?” whenever I bring them here. I’m just always left speechless by this place.

Deep dark blue water turns turquoise and white against the rocks

Deep dark blue water turns turquoise and white against the rocks

Planning and Preparing to visit Point Lobos

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Your walk at Point Lobos will be very easy and you won't need much preparation. Just check the weather, bring water, wear comfortable clothes, wear trail shoes, and bring some trail snacks and/or food for a picnic. You can print out the trail map beforehand here or buy one at the entrance.

Other items you might consider bringing: Cash to pay for parking and a map, sunscreen, and binoculars.

There is also camping available at this park, call (800) 444-7275 during business hours to see if spots are available.

Finally, don't forget to check the weather and plan your clothing accordingly!

How to get to Point Lobos

Point Lobos
62 California 1
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923


Point Lobos is a 5 hour drive north from Los Angeles and a 2 hour drive south from San Francisco. The entrance to the park is off of Highway 1 (PCH). You can either pay to park inside the park or park for free along the highway outside of the park by the entrance, and then walk in. When you walk into the park, stop by the kiosk and buy a trail map.

If you're heading south to Point Lobos you might want to consider stopping by Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and McWay Falls first before heading to Point Lobos. This destination is only 45 more minutes south of Point Lobos, is extremely beautiful, and you only spend about an hour there. The drive on Highway 1 through Big Sur is magnificent and there's also a cool restaurant with a killer view on the way called Nepenthe.

Best things to do in Point Lobos

1.) Nature Walk

The best thing to do at Point Lobos is walk around. It's not hiking, it's more of a leisurely nature walk. After walking into the entrance, take the first right onto Carmel Meadow Trail, then at the end of the trail turn left and stick to the trails that run south along the coastline. Make sure to stop by Cannery Point, Sea Lion Point, and China Cove to maximize your experience. Here's the map. Your journey will take 2-4 hours.

The coastline demands your full attention

The coastline demands your full attention


Point Lobos is also very popular for scuba diving. If you're a diver, bring your gear!

3.) Bird Watch

Point Lobos is a wonderful day to see unique species of birds!

Tips for Visiting Point Lobos

  • There is a lot of rich history behind Point Lobos. Make sure to stop by the Whalers Cabin Museum for some interesting historical facts about the preserve.

  • Binoculars are recommended for bird, whale, dolphin, otter, and sea lion watching

  • Head to Monterey or Big Sur afterwards: If you're headed back north after visiting Point Lobos, stop by Monterey for a nice walk along Cannery Row and the pier for some coffee, saltwater taffy, and food at one of the famous restaurants. If you have time, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the most famous aquariums in the world. If your ride home from Point Lobos is in the southern direction, enjoy the nice drive through Big Sur and stop by Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and McWay Falls.

Checking out the view

Checking out the view

Visit Point Lobos today!

Leaving Point Lobos is always a little sad. The beauty of the ocean and cliffs is like a drug, giving you an exhilarating natural high then leaving you with withdrawals. If you do experience these symptoms, no need to talk to a doctor, just look back at your pictures and think about the next time you're going to go again. Go somewhere else that's just as beautiful, such as Pinnacles National Park, Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, or Sequoia/King's Canyon National Park.

Point Lobos FAQ

Question: Is the park still nice to visit even when it's cloudy and maybe raining? We are thinking of going this weekend

Answer: We think Point Lobos is beautiful no matter the season or weather. If there's a possibility of rain, bring water resistant shoes and a rain jacket and you'll be just fine!

Question: Is Point Lobos dog friendly?

Answer: No, unfortunately dogs are not allowed on these state beaches: Zmudowski SB, Moss Landing SB, Marina SB, Salinas River SB, Seaside SB, Andrew Molera SP, and Point Lobos State Reserve. The reason is because these state beaches are nesting sites for threatened Western Snowy Plover.

Question: Is Point Lobos free?

Answer: It's free if you don't park inside the park. Just park outside the park along the highway (be careful!), and then walk inside the entrance of the park. There are no fees when you walk into the park. The only charge might be the map if you want one. The last time we were there, a map was $2 cash.

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