comScore
Sea Lion Cove in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve picture in Monterey
Don DeBold / Flickr

Details

  • Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.8
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    3.5
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

South of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve receives praise from almost everyone who visits. The dramatic rock formations rising from the ocean have most visitors gawking, while the cute creatures like pocket gopher and the southern sea otter keep the nature-lovers smiling. The reserve's 13 trails offer hikers both easy and challenging opportunities. The Cypress Grove Trail is especially popular due to its views of the rugged coast and the gnarled Monterey cypress trees that perch precariously on the seaside cliffs.

If you like to dive, you're in luck. Point Lobos has 10 diving spots where you can swim through 70-foot-high kelp forests and various coral reefs. If you're lucky, you may catch site of passing seals and whales.

Parking inside the reserve costs $10, but many travelers park outside of it along Highway 1 and walk in for free (though a $1 donation is recommended). Visitors are welcome from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, check out the Point Lobos Foundation's website.

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Hotels Nearby

  • Thing to Do
  • Hotel
Carmel Mission Inn

Carmel Mission Inn ...

  • 2.5 Miles Away
  • 3.5-star Hotel Class
La Playa Carmel

La Playa Carmel ...

  • 2.6 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Hyatt Carmel Highlands ...

  • 1.2 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
See all hotels in Monterey »

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#1 Carmel-by-the-Sea Located south of Monterey and Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a humble seaside village with a few small shops and cafes -- at least that's the cover story. In truth, this ... Read more » brad.coy / Flickr

#2 Point Lobos State Natural Reserve South of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve receives praise from almost everyone who visits. The dramatic rock formations rising from the ocean have most visitors gawking, while the ... Read more » Don DeBold / Flickr

#3 Monterey Bay Aquarium The Open Sea Exhibit best exemplifies how special the massive Monterey Bay Aquarium is. Sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, jellyfish and schools of fish have thousands of gallons of water to ... Read more » Courtesy of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau

#4 Pebble Beach Golf Links Golfers dream of playing at the Pebble Beach Golf Club, which is often considered to be one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. With experts encouraging booking ... Read more » isogood / Getty Images

#5 17-Mile Drive Tracing the rugged Pacific coastline, the 17-Mile Drive isn't just a road. The route offers breathtaking views of the ocean, hugging the Pacific coastline as it weaves through the ... Read more » Westend61 / Getty Images

#6 Old Fisherman's Wharf Near Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Old Fisherman's Wharf is not the smelly, salt water-stained place it once was. Costly restaurants and souvenir shops now characterize this ... Read more » Bill_Dally / Getty Images

#7 Cannery Row Anchored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row is the epicenter of Monterey's tourism industry. Boutique hotels, shops and restaurants line this seaside avenue and attract thousands of travelers ... Read more » Courtesy of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Cafe in Carmel-by-the-Sea picture in Monterey
Sea Lion Cove in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve picture in Monterey
Monterey Bay Aquarium picture in Monterey
Pebble Beach Golf Links picture in Monterey
View from 17-Mile Drive picture in Monterey
Monterey Harbor picture in Monterey
Cannery Row at Twilight picture in Monterey
Cafe in Carmel-by-the-Sea picture in Monterey
Sea Lion Cove in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve picture in Monterey
Monterey Bay Aquarium picture in Monterey
Pebble Beach Golf Links picture in Monterey
View from 17-Mile Drive picture in Monterey
Monterey Harbor picture in Monterey
Cannery Row at Twilight picture in Monterey

Carmel-by-the-Sea does not allow chain restaurants, so visitors are confident that where they're eating is one of a kind.  brad.coy / Flickr

For spectacular views of the Pacific coast, spend a few hours hiking in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Don DeBold / Flickr

Monterey's star attraction for many years, the aquarium houses hundreds of colorful fish and other marine animals. Courtesy of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Golfers come from around the world to strike a ball on the famous Pebble Beach fairways. isogood / Getty Images

Along the 17-Mile Drive, you might be tempted to take your eyes off the road by breathtaking views of the craggy coastline. Westend61 / Getty Images

Take a stroll along Old Fisherman's Wharf and sample some of the area's famous clam chowder. Bill_Dally / Getty Images

With its plethora of restaurants and bars, Cannery Row shines brightest at night. Courtesy of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau

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