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Point Lobos State Reserve

This wildlife sanctuary, a magnet for nature lovers and artists, is a jewel of the California State Park system. 

Follow misty hiking trails through towering cypress trees along dramatic, craggy shorelines and down to secluded beaches. Once the home of whalers, sealers and fishermen, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and surrounding waters are now a protected wildlife and marine reserve.  

The California sea lion is plentiful in this area, with hundreds of them sunning on the rocks along the shore between August and June. Sea otters can also be seen searching for food in the kelp beds just offshore. Look a little further out in the ocean for gray whales on their long annual migration between December and May. It’s also possible to see mountain lions and coyotes roaming inside the reserve. Both are used to human activity but shouldn’t be approached or fed. Many bird species thrive here too. Keep an out for the beautiful black-crowned night heron and brown pelican. 

Hiking is a popular activity at Point Lobos, with trails running alongside the shore and offering stunning views. Follow the Cypress Grove trail to the ocean at sunset to capture the perfect photo. The trees here sometimes appear orange due to a build up of algae, and the light is forever changing as fog rolls in from the ocean.
The best way to experience Point Lobos marine life is by scuba diving or snorkeling. Kelp forests just offshore support a variety of fish and plant life, all of which is protected by state law. You can rent diving gear from several nearby shops. Certified divers can make reservations prior to arrival via the Point Lobos State Reserve website. 

Find the Whalers Cabin Museum in an old shack by the water. Chinese and Portuguese whalers built dozens of these cabins here in the mid-1850s, but only this one remains. The museum’s exhibits include harpoons, blubber pots and a model of an old whaling boat. Enormous bleached whale bones scattered around the cabin provide an eerie reminder of the once bloody trade.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is three miles (five kilometers) south of Carmel. It’s a 15-minute car drive from downtown Monterey, or catch a MST bus to Point Lobos. Set aside an afternoon or entire day to explore the reserve. Bring a snack or picnic, as there are no food outlets inside the park.


Guide to Exploring around Point Lobos State Natural Reserve


Top Point Lobos State Natural Reserve Flight + Hotel Deals

Best Lodging Options Near Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

See all 551 Properties near Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast $369
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

120 Highland Dr, Carmel, CA
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in a state park, this resort is 0.6 mi (1 km) from Gravity Garden and 2.5 mi (4.1 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. Hidden Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).

    Carmel Mission Inn $140
    Carmel Mission Inn

    Carmel Mission Inn

    3665 Rio Rd, Carmel, CA
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of The Barnyard and Carmel Mission Basilica. Carmel Beach and 17-Mile Drive are also within 3 mi (5 km).

      La Playa Carmel $349
      La Playa Carmel

      La Playa Carmel

      Camino Real at Eighth Ave., Carmel, CA
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Golden Rectangle, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Golden Bough Playhouse, Sunset Center, and Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room. Galante Vineyards and Blair Estate Tasting Room are also within 10 minutes.

        Gorgeous 1-bedroom Residence With a Private Ocean-view Balcony and a Fireplace
        Gorgeous 1-bedroom Residence With a Private Ocean-view Balcony and a Fireplace

        Gorgeous 1-bedroom Residence With a Private Ocean-view Balcony and a Fireplace

        Carmel, CA
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated by the ocean, this resort is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Gravity Garden and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. Hidden Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).

          Car Week @ Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn - 2 Story Oceanview - Sleeps 4+
          Car Week @ Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn - 2 Story Oceanview - Sleeps 4+

          Car Week @ Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn - 2 Story Oceanview - Sleeps 4+

          Carmel, CA
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Carmel, this aparthotel is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Gravity Garden and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. Hidden Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).

            Hyatt Residence Club Carmel, Ca
            Hyatt Residence Club Carmel, Ca

            Hyatt Residence Club Carmel, Ca

            Carmel, CA
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Carmel, this villa is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Gravity Garden and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. Hidden Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).

              Carmel Highlands Inn - One Bedroom Suite, Ocean View
              Carmel Highlands Inn - One Bedroom Suite, Ocean View

              Carmel Highlands Inn - One Bedroom Suite, Ocean View

              Carmel, CA
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Carmel, this resort is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Gravity Garden and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. Hidden Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).

                Hyatt Residents Club, Carmel Highlands Inn
                Hyatt Residents Club, Carmel Highlands Inn

                Hyatt Residents Club, Carmel Highlands Inn

                Carmel, CA
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Carmel, this condo building is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Gravity Garden and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. Hidden Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).