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.
Located in Carmel Highlands, 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 China Cove are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Situated by the ocean, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Golden Bough Playhouse and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.8 mi (4.6 km) away.
Situated by the ocean, this bed & breakfast is within a 10-minute walk of Tor House and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) away.
Located in Carmel Highlands, this spa vacation home is 1.1 mi (1.7 km) from Gravity Garden and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Point Lobos State Reserve. China Cove and Monastery Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Situated near the beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Golden Bough Playhouse, Carmel City Beach, and Sunset Center. Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room and Galante Vineyards are also within 10 minutes.
Situated in a garden setting, this newly renovated (July 2008) hotel is 4 blocks from the historic Carmel Mission, 7 miles from downtown Monterey, and 8 miles from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Situated near the beach, this motel is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Smallsea, A Metropolis in Miniature and 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from Carmel Beach. The Barnyard and Carmel Mission Basilica are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Situated in Carmel, this spa vacation home is within a 15-minute walk of Golden Bough Playhouse and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 3 mi (4.8 km) away.