Monterey Beaches Lovers Point

Beaches — Back To The Beach

Monterey Beaches

Lovers Point Beach
Photo courtesy seemonterey.com

15 seashores. Endless enjoyment. Dive in.

By Greg Archer

PACIFIC GROVE

Lovers Point
The family-friendly hot spot — and one of the most famed beaches on the Peninsula — offers a 4.4-acre landscaped community park overlooking a sandy beach cove, rocky outcrops, a concrete pier, a snack bar, and a restaurant that specializes in fine dining during the evening hours. Picnics and volleyball are encouraged, too.

Monterey Beaches Asilomar Beach

Asilomar Beach.
Photo by Douglas Steakley

Asilomar Beach
Occasional foggy mists, a turquoise shoreline, and rocky coves suggest something ethereal here. The wind attracts kite surfers while large breaks beckon seasoned surfers. Head east and you hit a preserved nature trail. Bring your on-leash pup. Beach wheelchairs are available. www.parks.ca.gov/asilomar

PEBBLE BEACH

Spanish Bay Beach
Surfers frolic here. Waves are at their peak from September to March, but come any time of year — to watch or surf — and it will be profoundly memorable. This year marks the 10th anniversary of a unique occurrence. In 2008, beach visitors began stacking rocks one on top of the other. It set a trend. Look for improvised art along the beach. seemonterey.com

Stillwater Cove
It was once home to a Chinese Fishing Village in 1868. Now, divers, kayakers, and boaters relish the magnificence of the cove with its clear waters and stunning ensemble of otters, seals, and other marine life. Explore at will, but take note: Only 10 divers are allowed per day. Call in advance for a reservation (831-625-8507). Kayaks are available for rent and views of the 17th green come with the territory. Don't be surprised if a few friendly golf balls from the fairway find their way onto the beach. seemonterey.com

MONTEREY

Monterey State Beach
Several enclaves compose this wide expanse of shoreline, which stretches all the way to nearby Seaside. Beachcombers and tidepool watchers appreciate the ambiance. Surfers practice their form. Fishermen hope for a catch. And on shore? Look, there are kite-fliers and volleyball teams going at it — the perfect flat beach. No beach fires allowed. seemonterey.com

Del Monte Beach
A secret haven, but you can find it by car by heading toward the ocean off Del Monte Avenue at Casa Verde. The one-way road leads you toward Tide Avenue, where street parking is available. Follow the boardwalk trail through the dunes and there are plenty of benches and picnic tables. Kick your shoes off and walk the shore south to Window on the Bay Beach or Houghton M. Roberts Beach just north (dogs allowed and ideal access to the full-service restaurant at Monterey Tides Hotel). Make a day of it. seemonterey.com

San Carlos Beach
Scuba divers, come hither. This beach, located at the far end of Cannery Row, adjacent to the Coast Guard Pier, has your name on it. Take note of the breakpoint and the rock wall on the right (south) side of the beach. Dive there and explore the variety of fish, crabs, or nudibranchs. Nondivers can just stroll along the sandy shore. Showers and restrooms available. seemonterey.com

SEASIDE & SAND CITY

Seaside Beach
The northernmost section of Monterey State Beach is, curiously, the only part of Seaside that actually touches the sea. Be mindful; this is an endangered species area. Enjoy strolls and just-chill moments sitting in the sand. It's a short walk to Sand City Beach where nature trails, boulders, and sand dunes converge. seemonterey.com

The Crater Beach
This clothing-optional beach is tucked away in its own cove by California Avenue and Cabrillo Highway. As for the crater, the huge depression in the dunes forces the sand to rise up around it on all sides. Dramatic. seemonterey.com

MOSS LANDING

Moss Landing State Beach
Only 20 minutes north of Monterey, picnics, surfing, windsurfing, hiking, birdwatching (grebes, loons, ducks, shorebirds, and waders), and surf fishing unravel in this outdoors utopia. Must: horseback riding (reservations at seahorseequestriantours.com). seemonterey.com

CARMEL
Monterey Beaches Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach.
Photo courtesy carmelcalifornia.com

Carmel Beach
Dog-friendly and miles of exquisite white sand, large surf breaks, and remarkable vistas of Pebble Beach to the north and Point Lobos State Reserve to the south. Home to the annual Fall Sandcastle-Building Contest, Carmel Beach welcomes volleyball yearround. No beach fires allowed — but it will set your soul ablaze. carmelcalifornia.com

Carmel River State Beach
A memorable mile-long seashore with a bird sanctuary in its lagoon (where the Carmel River empties into the sea) and a variety of waterfowl and songbirds that attract sightseers. Meanwhile, at nearby Monastery Beach, intense riptides crash the shore. Avoid swimming, wading, and even walking near the ocean. Park your crew on a sandy landing beyond the shore. carmelcalifornia.com

Point Lobos State Reserve
Between its numerous walking trails, picturesque coves, rolling meadows, and lush forest, there's much to explore (and photograph) here. Maps are handed out upon entry, and benches are situated at various lookout points. Photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, and scuba diving and snorkeling are encouraged. Seals, playful sea otters, migrating gray whales, and, literally, thousands of seabirds call this precious reserve home. Ask about guided tours. $10 vehicle fee. pointlobos.org

BIG SUR
Monterey Beaches Garrapata State Beach

Garrapata State Beach.
Photo by Douglas Steakley

Garrapata State Beach
Garrapata Beach is located nearly 10 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Easy access can be made at the south end, near the bridge over Garrapata Creek. Otherwise, prepare for steep dirt trails. Take note: Some areas are clothing-optional at times, especially at the north and south ends where secluded spots encourage uninhibitedness. Low tides reveal a sandy cove at Garrapata Creek. Explore there. Avoid swimming, as the water is cold and the rip currents strong. californiabeaches.com

Monterey Beaches Pfeiffer Beach

The 2-mile sandy stretch at Pfeiffer Beach is ideal for spotting sea life or stunning sunsets.
Photo courtesy seemonterey.com

Pfeiffer Beach
The winds here may surprise you, so dress in layers. But the real treats are dense redwoods and a 2-mile stretch of beach. Coastal hiking is a must; climb a 50-foot hill, where a view of the Pacific awaits. The coastal headlands trail at Soberanes Point is truly noteworthy and so is the eye candy, because harbor seals, sea lions, and sea otters frequent the locale. Come December through April, and you can experience the California gray whales' annual migration. $10 entrance fee. www.parks.ca.gov