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Point Lobos

Visiting Point Lobos

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Ansel Adams called Point Lobos a Place with a capital “P,” but it can be disappointing if you expect the wrong this or if you go at the wrong time. This guide tells you what it is – and isn’t – and how to see it whether you’re a casual stoller or an energetic hiker.

©2014 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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Rock Formation on Weston Beach at Point Lobos

©2013 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
Point Lobos

Harbor Seal at Point Lobos

© 2009 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

"The greatest meeting of land and water in the world" is an often-quoted opinion of the small point of land jutting into the Pacific Ocean just south of Carmel, California.

Craggy rock formations plunge into the Monterey Bay at Point Lobos, ocean waves creating dramatic salt spray against them. A host of wild creatures make their homes in the ocean or on the shore and you'll find a rare stand of original-growth Monterey cypress trees at the point, one of only two such groves left in the world. On a clear day (or a cloudy one), it's a little bit of heaven.

Scenes from Point Lobos

Enjoy our best shots on a Point Lobos Photo Tour

Visiting Point Lobos

Point Lobos is fundamentally a nature preserve and the main reason people go there is for the views. If you hike every trail in the park (and you may be tempted to do just that), you'll cover a little more than 8 miles and with all the stops for gawking and enjoying the surroundings, it will take 6 hours or more to do it. We can think of few better ways to spend a day.

If you're inclined toward less walking, you'll find plenty of trails that are less than a mile long, each one taking a leisurely half-hour stroll to complete. Our favorite is the Cypress Grove Trail, which offers a chance to see a little bit of everything.

Otherwise, there's little else to do at Point Lobos. The whaler's cabin and other exhibits are open as staffing permits and rangers offer guided walks. You'll find the schedule posted at the entrance station.

If you know a little Spanish, you may recognize "Lobos" in the place name, which means wolves. In fact, the Spanish called California sea lions "sea wolves" because of the sound of their barks, so Point Lobos was originally called "Point of the Sea Wolves."

Point Lobos Tips

  • Waves can sneak up on you - and sturdy-looking cliffs can crumble unexpectedly. Stay on the trails and pay attention to your surroundings
  • You'll find restrooms at Point Lobos, but no concessions. If you plan to be there long enough to get hungry, bring your own food.
  • Point Lobos is a nature preserve and activities you might enjoy elsewhere along the coast, such as Frisbee play, volleyball and kite flying are not allowed.
  • Leave Poochy at home. Dogs (except certified service animals) and other pets are not allowed
  • No fires are allowed at any time, but you can picnic in the open areas where the tables are

Point Lobos Review

We rate Point Lobos 5 stars out of 5 for its extreme natural beauty.

Diving at Point Lobos

Half of the Point Lobos Reserve is under the water, making it a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling. Diving is permitted only at Whalers and Bluefish Coves. You can get permission to dive when you enter, but you'll need reservations, especially for weekends and holidays. Everything you need to know about diving at Point Lobos is here, including an online reservation form.

Preserving Point Lobos

If you enjoy Point Lobos as much as we do, you can help preserve it by joining the Point Lobos Foundation.

Details About Point Lobos

  • Hours: Open daily, closes 30 minutes after sunset
  • Reservations: Not required
  • Cost: Entrance fee
  • Location: 3 miles south of Carmel, directions below
  • How Long: Allow at least an hour
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and fall
  • See It Now: Photo Tour

Getting to Point Lobos

Point Lobos State Reserve
California Hwy 1
Carmel, CA
831-624-4909
Point Lobos website
Point Lobos is 3 miles south of Carmel on CA Hwy 1. Look for the entrance on the west side of the highway.

Parking is limited at Point Lobos and it can fill up early on weekends and holidays. If your vehicle is more than 20 feet long, you may not be able to enter on those busy days and vehicles towing trailers are never allowed. You'll find more parking along the highway outside the entrance and you can walk in from there.

If you'd rather not drive to get there, Monterey-Salinas Transit buses go to Point Lobos.

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