Beginning of main content

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.


Trip Type
Flight 1
Flight 2
Flight 3
Flight 4
Flight 5
Map

Lodging Near Point Lobos State Reserve

See all 314 Hotels near Point Lobos State Reserve
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast $319
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

120 Highland Dr, Carmel
     
    4.1
    of 5, from 160 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    Situated in Carmel, this resort is 0.6 mi (1 km) from Gravity Garden and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. Monastery Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).

    Carmel Wayfarer Inn $70
    Carmel Wayfarer Inn

    Carmel Wayfarer Inn

    4th Ave And Mission Ave, Carmel
       
      3.1
      of 5, from 1,105 reviews
      3.0 out of 5.0

      Located in the heart of Carmel, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Carmel Chamber of Commerce and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) away.

      Beautifully Remodeled 3BR w/ Ocean Views & Patios, Walk to Beach, Near Dining
      Beautifully Remodeled 3BR w/ Ocean Views & Patios, Walk to Beach, Near Dining

      Beautifully Remodeled 3BR w/ Ocean Views & Patios, Walk to Beach, Near Dining

      , Carmel
         
        0.0 out of 5.0

        Situated on the waterfront, this vacation home is close to Monastery Beach, Carmel Beach, and Point Lobos State Reserve. Also nearby are Carmel River State Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica.

        2854 Pradera Rd Home 3 Bedrooms 2 Bathrooms Home
        2854 Pradera Rd Home 3 Bedrooms 2 Bathrooms Home

        2854 Pradera Rd Home 3 Bedrooms 2 Bathrooms Home

        2854 Pradera Rd, Carmel
           
          3.5 out of 5.0

          Situated in Carmel, this vacation home is close to Monastery Beach, Carmel Beach, and Point Lobos State Reserve. Also nearby are Carmel River State Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica.

          3707 Pacific's Edge Sanctuary - 16 Acre Estate! Stunning Ocean Views!
          3707 Pacific's Edge Sanctuary - 16 Acre Estate! Stunning Ocean Views!

          3707 Pacific's Edge Sanctuary - 16 Acre Estate! Stunning Ocean Views!

          , Carmel
             
            0.0 out of 5.0

            Situated in Carmel, this vacation home is close to Gravity Garden, Point Lobos State Reserve, and Gibson Beach. Also nearby are China Cove and Monastery Beach.

            Hotel Carmel $209
            Hotel Carmel

            Hotel Carmel

            Corner Of 4th And San Carlos, Carmel
               
              4.6
              of 5, from 164 reviews
              3.5 out of 5.0

              Situated in a shopping district, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Carmel Chamber of Commerce and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.5 mi (4.1 km) away.

              3722 Gate House - Carmel Point Cottage With Roses and Beautiful Ocean Views!
              3722 Gate House - Carmel Point Cottage With Roses and Beautiful Ocean Views!

              3722 Gate House - Carmel Point Cottage With Roses and Beautiful Ocean Views!

              , Carmel
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0

                Situated in Carmel, this vacation home is close to Tor House, Carmel Beach, and Carmel River State Beach. Also nearby are Carmel Mission Basilica and Golden Bough Playhouse.

                Colonial Terrace Inn by the Sea $179
                Colonial Terrace Inn by the Sea

                Colonial Terrace Inn by the Sea

                13th and San Antonio, Carmel
                   
                  4.2
                  of 5, from 433 reviews
                  3.5 out of 5.0

                  Situated by the ocean, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tor House and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.8 mi (4.6 km) away.