Point Lobos State Preserve: The Ultimate Destination Guide

Everything you need to know about Visiting Point Lobos

Imagine if California's coastline was represented by a liquid. Imagine pouring this liquid in a pot and simmering it until you have a concentrated reduction. You're left with a thick and intensely flavored version of the coastline. This is Point Lobos.

Swells and currents become hypnotizing at Point Lobos

Swells and currents become hypnotizing at Point Lobos

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.

Why visit Point Lobos? Point Lobos is a fabulous destination for those who love nature walks and wildlife. The way the sparkling blue water engages with the jagged cliffs leaves you in a state of trance as you form new ideas and thoughts. Every step you take through the park becomes more beautiful 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.

Planning and Preparing to visit Point Lobos

Deep dark blue water turns turquoise and white against the rocks

Deep dark blue water turns turquoise and white against the rocks

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 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, trail snacks, Camelbak, camera, hat, sunscreen, binoculars. Additional items you might like to bring are noted here.

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 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.

The coastline demands your full attention

The coastline demands your full attention


What to do in Point Lobos

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.


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


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.

Big Sur

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


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

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

Back to Reality

Leaving Point Lobos is always a little sad. The beauty of the ocean and cliffs is much like a drug, providing you with 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. Now is also a great time to plan your next destination. 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.


Pinnacles Q&A

Question: Hey guys, thanks for writing your guide on point lobos. Is the park still nice to visit even when it's cloudy and maybe raining? We are thinking of going this weekend

Answer: Hey there, thanks for contacting us! We think Point Lobos is beautiful no matter the season or weather. If there's a possibility of rain, bring water resistant shoes, a rain jacket, and an umbrella and you'll be just fine! Enjoy your trip to Point Lobos, you're going to love it. -Exsplore