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9 Beaches in Monterey Everyone Should Visit
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9 Beaches in Monterey Everyone Should Visit

Follow the white sand and listen to the sea lion’s flippers—they’re both pointing to the best beaches in Monterey.

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5 min read

June 29, 2021

‘Tis the sea-sun to go swimming! Update that beach day playlist and get your hands on the best mineral-based sunscreen because we’re going out to get a good dose of vitamin sea. There’s only one thing left to do—make memories with your toes in the sand. And what better place to do that than on the West Coast’s best coast: Monterey Bay. 

From Old Fisherman’s Wharf to Cannery Row, Monterey proves that happiness comes in waves. Follow the white sand and listen to the sea lion’s flippers—they’re both pointing to the best beaches in Monterey. Ready to ‘seas’ the day? 

There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.

The Best Beaches in Monterey 

1. Lovers Point Park Beach

Location: Ocean View Boulevard and 17th Street, Pacific Grove 

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Parking: Free 

Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, grass park, paved bike path, volleyball court, kids pool, picnic tables, benches, rentals

Dogs allowed: On leash

Bike rack: Available

There are plenty of places to watch the sun go down in California, but when it comes to sunrise, nothing beats Lovers Point Park beach in Pacific Grove. One of the calmest and safest beaches you’ll come across in the area, this is where you’ll have the time of your life, whether you’re visiting with your boo or the whole family. Fish, run, scuba, windsurf, and play volleyball—good vibes happen on the tides. 

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2. San Carlos Beach 

Location: Reeside Avenue and Cannery Row, Monterey

Hours: Sunrise to sunset 

Parking: Metered street parking 

Amenities: Grass park, picnic tables, restrooms, paved bike path

Dogs allowed: No

Bike rack: Available

Miss having a resting beach face? San Carlos Beach in Monterey is one of the best scuba diving destinations in the state, perfect for when you want to add a little thrill to your getaway. When you’re not busy sunbathing at this sandy shore, you’re getting your much-needed beach therapy at the picnic area. Manicured grass lawns, sandy stretches, and picnic tables make for the perfect spots to kick your feet up and enjoy the views of one of the best beaches in Monterey Bay. If you’re not barefoot, then you’re overdressed!

Life takes you down many paths, but our favorite ones lead to the beach. The ocean is calling and we must go.

3. Carmel City Beach

Location: Ocean Avenue and Scenic Road, Carmel

Hours: Sunrise to sunset 

Parking: Free

Amenities: Restrooms, volleyball courts, fire pits 

Dogs allowed: Yes 

Bike rack: Available

Long, wide, and white sand beaches are hard to beat, and Carmel City Beach offers the best one yet. This laid-back ocean paradise is where you’ll ‘tropic’ like it’s hot. You’ll love building sandcastles, challenging your friends to a volleyball match, and—on top of it all—you can even bring your furry pal along. Toss a tennis ball and romp with your four-legged best friend at one of the Golden State’s best dog-friendly beaches. #Aquaholic

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air because you're not just a wave; you're a part of the ocean.

4. McAbee Beach 

Location: 600 Cannery Row, Monterey

Hours: Sunrise to sunset 

Parking: Metered street parking 

Amenities: Historic features, tide pools 

Dogs allowed: No

Bike rack: Not applicable

Mcabee Beach is a favorite when it comes to tidepooling—it’s a little-known fact that locals don’t want you to know. At high tide, it’s a small cove with smooth boulders, but come low tide and you can wend your way through a sand-filled paradise with tiny pockets of microcosms. Grab your kayak and scuba diving equipment and make your way to this underrated shore—your Monterey getaway is about to get better. 

Advice from the ocean: Be shore of yourself. Come out of your shell. Take time to coast. Avoid pier pressure. Sea life’s beauty.

5. Del Monte Beach

Location: 132 Tide Avenue, Monterey 

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Parking: Free 

Amenities: Toilets, picnic tables, benches, boardwalk, dunes 

Dogs allowed: On leash

Bike rack: Available

A surfin’ safari doesn’t get better than riding the waves at Del Monte Beach. As far as unforgettable Central Coast activities go, this is where you shoot the curl and do the turtle roll. When you’re not practicing your surfing skills, you’re most likely sunbathing and picnicking here. Aside from the usual beachcombing and splashing around, you can trek a few trails at Del Monte Beach that lead you to breathtaking cliff edges.

Don’t get so tide down on work that you miss out on life’s beautiful waves at Fanshell Beach.

Beaches near Monterey

6. Fanshell Beach 

Location: 3141 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Parking: Fanshell Overlook parking lot

Amenities: Picnicking, wildlife viewing, bird watching

Dogs allowed: No

Bike rack: Not applicable

Fanshell Beach is a front-row seat to Cypress Point and the roaring Pacific. This is the best place to take a long romantic stroll with your s.o. as seafoam forms by your toes. If you happen to visit in spring, you’ll witness one of the most adorable sights in this area—newborn seals. Hike up to Fanshell Overlook at the west end of the beach and marvel at the baby harbor seals clumsily tumbling around; they’re the Monterey attraction.

The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul. The ocean breeze puts our mind at ease.

7. Spanish Bay Beach

Location: 1955 Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Parking: Free along Sunset Drive 

Amenities: Boardwalk, trails, dunes 

Dogs allowed: No

Bike rack: Not applicable

So far, we’ve established that the best place to shell-abrate good times is by the beach, but if you want to take things up a notch, make Spanish Bay Beach the shore of your choice. The powdery waves, the spectacular dunes, and the rustic wooden boardwalk—we’re beginning to see why it’s the coolest stop on our 17 Mile-Drive itinerary. Soak up the California sun and enjoy the solitude of this private Pebble Beach stretch.

A day at the beach is never lost time. When the warm grains of sand touch our hearts, we know we’re in the right place.

8. Garrapata State Beach

Location: 35500 Cabrillo Highway, Carmel

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Parking: Free

Amenities: None

Dogs allowed: On leash

Bike rack: Unavailable

Fancy a hidden gem all to yourself? Garrapata State Beach has no signs to mark its location—you’re going to have to do a little bit of digging to find it. The hike to this beach near Monterey is almost as exciting as the destination, with bursts of pink and yellow wildflowers greeting you along the way. Once you reach this sparkling stretch of sand, a bunch of little caves, small cascades, and creeks await your exploration. And while you normally wouldn't be able to swim here, a visit to Garrapata State Beach is worth it for the vistas alone.

Beach rules: Soak up the sun. Ride the waves. Breathe the salty air. Feel the breeze. Build sandcastles. Rest, relax, reflect. Collect seashells.

9. Salinas River State Beach

Location: 770 Sandholt Road, Moss Landing 

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Parking: Free

Amenities: Trails, dunes, wetlands, toilets

Dogs allowed: No

Bike rack: Available

Bird watchers, rejoice—Salinas River State Beach is the best place to spot American kestrels, western snowy plovers, red-tailed hawks, California brown pelicans, and much more. While you might see surfers out in the water, remember that this beach is not usually for swimming; strong rip-currents and offshore drop-offs make it dangerous. Instead, let the dune trails guide you to primo fishing spots and reel it in as long as you like.

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