Point Lobos State Natural Reserve


What? : Point Lobos Park landscape has headlands, ocean cliffs, coves, small sandy bays and open meadows and cypress trees. This is considered by many to be the "crown jewel" of the California state park system.

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Where? : Located just at the south side of Carmel-By-The-Sea, about 15 minutes’ drive south of Monterey.

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Due note 1: There are no pets, bikes, fires, rock climbing, or camping allowed.


Due note 2: The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers.


Due note 3: On weekend it is a crowded park, parking lot are getting full early day and the entrance is closed, people are parking their cars on the roadside and walk into the park. Drive carefully and slow down near the park entrance.


Due note 4: As for the rest of California shore, during winter months, migrating gray whales are visible from the viewpoints.


Due note 5: Your visit here can be part of your highway 1 drive or as a few hours activity when you are staying at Monterey.


My thoughts: Unfortunately, I visit here only one time, we enjoy it very much, the view is indeed unique. My problem with this park is that is always full of people and at weekends it overpacked. So plan your visit to mid-week day and you might be OK.


The visit:


Point Lobos is a “the” destination for ocean cliffs viewing, the ocean clear blue water crashes on the jagged cliffs and rocks below. You can spot sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and whales (in season), as well as pelicans and other shorebirds.


The reserve has several excellent hiking trails that range from short and easy to more challenging one.

Recommended Hiking:

Try to find a parking spot at Sea Lion Point parking lot (or if it is full at Piney Woods picnic area) and take the Cypress Grove Trail (Blue). This hike is less than a mile long on mostly easy terrain, it winds through one of the two naturally growing stands of Monterey cypress trees remaining on Earth.

The trail loops through cypress forest outlined by cliffs with dramatic and spectacular ocean views of Headland Cove from your south.

Once you hike the Cypress Grove Trail you can take the short trail to Sea Lion Point Trail (Perpule), go up the stairs to the viewing point, and from there all the way on South Shore Trail to the parking lot at the end of the road. this is 1.4-mile-long, easy going, trail on the cliff edge.

From this, end of the road, parking lot it is highly recommended to hike the Bird Island Trail (Orange), viewing China cove from the north and Gibson Beach from the south.

You can also go down the stairs to visit the sandy Gibson Beach.


Another interesting place to visit is at Whalers Cabin Museum – I must admit I did not visit here due to lack of time…

The building known as the Whalers Cabin was inhabited by Japanese and Chinese wale fishermen beginning in the 1850s. The cabin has been restored to look as it did in the 1800s; and now it presents a history of the shore whaling industry on the Monterey Peninsula.