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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 Point Lobos State Natural Reserve


Top Point Lobos State Natural Reserve Hotel Deals

See all 943 Properties near Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast RM1,159
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in a state park, this resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Gravity Garden and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Hidden Beach and Gibson Beach are also within 3 miles (5 km).

    Carmel Mission Inn RM494
    Carmel Mission Inn

    Carmel Mission Inn

       
      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 miles (5 km).

      La Playa Carmel RM1,159
      La Playa Carmel

      La Playa Carmel

         
        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.

        LX5 Ocean Front Villa Long Term Rental Only
        LX5 Ocean Front Villa Long Term Rental Only

        LX5 Ocean Front Villa Long Term Rental Only

           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Carmel Meadows, this golf holiday home is 0.3 mi (0.5 km) from Carmel River State Beach and within 3 miles (5 km) of Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) away.

          Colonial Terrace Inn by the Sea RM769
          Colonial Terrace Inn by the Sea

          Colonial Terrace Inn by the Sea

             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Golden Rectangle, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica. 17-Mile Drive and Pebble Beach Golf Links are also within 3 miles (5 km).

            Lx41: Ocean View Historic Villa
            Lx41: Ocean View Historic Villa

            Lx41: Ocean View Historic Villa

               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Carmel, this golf villa is within 1 mile (2 km) of Gravity Garden and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Monastery Beach and Hidden Beach are also within 3 miles (5 km).

              Ocean-view 3br W/ Gourmet Kitchen - Walk To Beach 3 Bedroom Home
              Ocean-view 3br W/ Gourmet Kitchen - Walk To Beach 3 Bedroom Home

              Ocean-view 3br W/ Gourmet Kitchen - Walk To Beach 3 Bedroom Home

                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Carmel Meadows, this golf holiday home is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Carmel River State Beach and within 3 miles (5 km) of Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is 2.8 mi (4.6 km) away.

                MV 14: Beach Retreat Close to the Beach and Carmel
                MV 14: Beach Retreat Close to the Beach and Carmel

                MV 14: Beach Retreat Close to the Beach and Carmel

                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Carmel Point, this golf holiday home is within a 15-minute walk of Tor House and Carmel Beach. 17-Mile Drive and Carmel Mission Basilica are also within 2 miles (3 km).