Point Lobos State Reserve

Carmel-by-the-Sea CA 93923

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Opening Hours

  • Mon: 8am-7pm
  • Tue: 8am-7pm
  • Wed: 8am-7pm
  • Thu: 8am-7pm
  • Fri: 8am-7pm
  • Sat: 8am-7pm
  • Sun: 8am-7pm


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Pt. Lobos State Reserve is located off Highway 1, about three miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. It has several easy hiking trails that have views of spectacular seascapes and offer sightings of sea otters, elephant seals, seals, seabirds, California quail, red-tailed hawks and other wildlife. During the winter months, visitors might see migrating gray whales in the sea, as well as Monarch butterflies on land. The reserve is popular with hikers, scuba divers, picnickers, photographers, painters and birders.

Parking and public transportation at Pt. Lobos State Reserve
Parking lots are available, but there are a limited number of spots. When the lots are full, visitors must park along Highway 1 and walk into the reserve. The Monterey-Salinas Transit Route 22 Big Sur-Monterey stops at Pt. Lobos. The bus fare is $3.50 per person. The fare is $1.75 for individuals who are 18 years old or under; are 65 years old and older; have disabilities; or can show a Medicare card.

Best and worst time to go to Pt. Lobos State Reserve
Pt. Lobos is a popular destination throughout the year, especially on clear sunny days. The best time to visit is before 11 a.m. on weekdays during any time of the year. The worse time is from May to September when many tourists are visiting the Monterey area.

Admission to Pt. Lobos State Reserve
The day-use fee is $10 per vehicle, year-round. Senior citizens, ages 62 and older, receive a dollar discount. Scuba diving is free, but only permitted at Whalers Cove and Bluefish Cove. Scuba divers should reserve a space as the park allows a limited number of divers each day.

Must see/do at Pt. Lobos State Reserve
Hike the trail to China Cove where the water looks turquoise and very clear. You may not be able to walk down if seals and sea lions are on the beach. Also, check out the restored Whalers Cabin were Chinese and Japanese fishermen lived in the mid-19th century.

Other places to visit near Pt. Lobos State Reserve
Nearby is Carmel Mission, formally known as Mission San Carlos Borroméo del rio Carmelo, one of the 21 California missions founded by the Spanish Franciscan friars in the 18th century. For a walk on the beach, check out Carmel River State Beach. While in Carmel-by-the Sea, stop at Pilgrim's Way Books and The Secret Garden, a charming independent bookstore and garden shop.

Insider tip for visitors to Pt. Lobos State Reserve
You cannot buy food at the reserve, so be sure to bring snacks or a picnic lunch with you.

Author's bio: Susan Echaore-McDavid writes Take 25 to Hollister, a blog about Hollister, San Benito County and nearby areas.