Best of Monterey Bay® Visitors Guide

34 The Best of Monterey Bay ® 2023-2024 At Play a jog at low tide. There are numerous access points, and the best swimming option is at the western-most point adjacent to Monterey’s municipal wharf, which provides protection from waves and currents. A couple of miles up the beach, at Casa Verde Way, a boardwalk winds through the dunes. The beach rides along Del Monte Avenue. Dogs allowed on leash. Restrooms available. Paid parking at the wharf in Monterey. Gibson Beach and China Cove Located within Point Lobos Reserve, these beaches are perfect for viewing otters and sea lions in their wild habitat. Both beaches lie at the bottom of a steep set of wooden stairs but are worth the trek. China Cove has emeraldgreen water and hollowed-out, rocky tunnels. Gibson Beach, located a bit farther back in the park, is less populated. Great for hiking and birdwatching. Picnic tables available. Dogs aren’t allowed. Restrooms available. Limited parking. Highway 1, 3 miles south of Carmel. Lovers Point Beach A protected cove makes Lovers Point a great place for a family swim. Picnic on the grassy bluff above the beach to keep the sand out of snacks and drinks. Beach volleyball, a snack bar and the children’s pool add to the fun. No dogs. Restrooms are available. Street parking along Ocean View Boulevard. Ocean View Boulevard at 17th Street, Pacific Grove. loverspointpg Marina State Beach This popular beach has sweeping views of the Monterey Bay coastline and provides a great place to watch crashing waves and enjoy a long beach walk in either direction (and don’t forget to look for whales and other wildlife). It’s frequently windy here. No dogs allowed. Restrooms and limited parking available. Reservation Road, Marina. Fort Ord Dunes State Park A short trail through the dunes leads to four miles of beautiful beach, seemingly always empty. Old bunkers still make for unique scenery; bring your camera. It’s also easily accessible by bicycle from the Rec Trail. Some trails are wheelchair accessible. Dogs allowed on leash on trails only. Restrooms and parking available. Lightfighter Drive exit from Highway 1, Marina. Monastery Beach There’s excellent scuba diving off the beach just north of Point Lobos and across from the Carmelite monastery. The steep slope is great for skimboarding, but a scary undertow means experienced water-lovers only. Not recommended for swimming, diving or wading. Dogs allowed on leash. Highway 1, Carmel. parks. Monterey State Beach This breezy beach is remarkable for its long, walkable stretches of sand and beautiful dunes below blue skies often populated with colorful kites. Check out the native plants and wildflowers at the dune restoration project in the Seaside stretch of beach. Dogs on leash only on south of Roberts parking lot. Restrooms available and limited parking. Canyon Del Rey Boulevard at Highway 1, Seaside. Moss Landing State Beach There is excellent wildlife viewing here, with sea otter and sea lion sightings common on the slough side. Don’t forget to look for whale spouts on the ocean side of the dunes. There are good fishing spots along this stretch too. Swimming and surfing for experienced waterlovers. Dogs aren’t allowed. Fires allowed at the south beach access trail. Restrooms and limited parking available. End of Jetty Road west of Highway 1, Moss Landing. parks. Pfeiffer Beach Keep your eyes open for an unmarked road just south of Big Sur Station that leads to famously purple sands and lovely rock formations just offshore. Its a great place for photography, waking and tidepooling. Dogs allowed on leash. Restrooms available. Be advised there is limited parking at the foot of the narrow, windy road. Sycamore Canyon Road, 32 miles south of Carmel off Highway 1, Big Sur. Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge A dirt road off the highway leads through artichoke fields to an all-encompassing habitat, where freshwater meets seawater. This wildlife refuge offers excellent birdwatching (and seasonal duck hunting), and a path takes you alongside the Salinas River to where it empties into the ocean. No dogs allowed. Del Monte Boulevard west of Highway 1, Marina. Salinas River State Beach It’s easy to find solitude here as people spread out along miles and miles of beach. To cover all of those miles, horseback riding is popular here. Swimming and surfing only for experienced water-lovers. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach or dunes. Restrooms and parking available. Monterey Dunes Way, off Molera Road, Moss Landing. San Carlos Beach One of the smallest beaches, but easily accessible and popular for dive and scuba classes. Calmer waves and tides make it a good spot for beginners—as well as those going for a morning dip. Dogs are allowed. Paid parking and restrooms available. Cannery Row at Reeside Avenue, Monterey. Sand Dollar Beach This is one of the few accessible beaches in southern Big Sur. It’s a good place to walk, either on the sand (you might find sand dollars) or on the bluffs above for a sweeping view, and it’s also a destination for surfers of varying skill levels, depending on conditions. A great place for barbecues and picnicking at the picnic area at the entrance. Dogs allowed on leash. Restrooms available. Fees for parking. Highway 1, 9 miles south of Lucia, Big Sur. Zmudowski State Beach Monterey County’s northernmost beach is a popular spot, with more than 177 acres open for exploring. Swimming and surfing not recommended. No dogs allowed. Restrooms and limited parking available. Jensen Road and Highway 1, Moss Landing. Diving, Snorkeling The nutrient-rich waters of Monterey Bay make for some of the best diving. On a good day the water is clear and the undulating kelp forests teem with sea life. Bluefish Cove/Whalers Cove Two miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, these gorgeous spots within Point Lobos State Natural Reserve offer easy beach access and a rich abundance of life inside a 750-acre proPalo Corona Regional Park LI lIu MIchael Sheehan Monterey Bay