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9 Fun Things To Do in Point Lobos

9 Fun Things To Do in Point Lobos

Discover the top 9 fun things to do at Point Lobos to enjoy this state natural reserve to the fullest.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

June 28, 2022

Disclaimer: is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or businesses mentioned in this article.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the crown jewel of California’s state park system and a favorite stop on the Pacific Coast Highway. Thanks to its outstanding beauty, sparkling clear waters, jagged cliffs, and rich marine life, it has been called “the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world”. The scenic Carmel-by-the-Sea attraction condenses the whole beauty of California’s coastline into an easily trekkable, 1,315 acres.

For those who appreciate California’s beautiful nature and rich wildlife, Point Lobos is a playground with never-ending opportunities for fun and exploration. That’s why you’re always advised to come prepared for all the adventures that await. Pack a picnic for a relaxed afternoon meal, your best hiking shoes to hike the park’s trails, your binoculars to scan the waters for whales, and your scuba diving gear to explore the depths of the Pacific.

How to Spend a Perfect Day in Point Lobos

The emerald green China Cove, with its tiny pocket beach, is the highlight of Point Lobos.

1. Enjoy the Beauty of China Cove

For years and years, visitors have been arriving at Point Lobos, simply to admire the beauty of its favorite gem, China Cove. Surrounded by emerald green waters and lush vegetation, the cove is a sight to behold. At low tide, the small cave and rock arch of China Cove come into view, creating beautiful photo ops for professional and amateur photographers alike. To reach this beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea beach, you have to walk the Bird Island Trail, where you’ll find steps that lead you to the cove. It’s safe to say that this stunning stretch of sand is one of the must-visit Central Coast beaches

2. Hike the Point Lobos Loop Trail

If you’re in love with the Golden State’s gorgeous coastline, you’d love to know that most of the beautiful stretches can be explored by hiking the trails of its most renowned parks. Such is the case with Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The gorgeous park overlooks some of the most unique vistas in the whole state, and you can experience it all, uninterrupted, by hiking the Point Lobos Loop Trail. The coastal hiking trail is, in fact, a network of well-maintained trails that stretch for 6.7 miles, allowing you to see the reserve as a whole, with all of its attractions. Even though the hike usually takes around three hours to complete, it will most likely take you much longer, thanks to the beautiful vistas you’ll be admiring at every corner.

Even though the water at Gibson Beach is pretty cold, you will want to swim in it and check the experience off your list.

3. Swim at Gibson Beach

Just a little past China Cove and down some steep stairs off of Bird Island Trail you can find one of the best beaches in California, Gibson Beach. The contact between its deep-blue waters and light-beige creates postcard-perfect vistas for you to admire. To add to its charm, at certain times of the year, Gibson Creek snakes across its shore and into the ocean. You don’t need to stand passively in front of Gibson Beach too. You can do more than just dip your feet into it, especially if you’re brave at heart. Put on your bikini and let the world know that you swam on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

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4. Have a Picnic

Once you’ve set foot in Point Lobos State Park, you will want to spend as much time as possible in the natural marvel. Luckily, the reserve has a few picnic areas, where you can enjoy a meal with your family and friends, and spend more time in nature. The three main picnic areas in Point Lobos are Piney Woods, the Bird Island picnic area, and the Whalers Cove picnic area. In all three areas, you will find water fountains to fill your bottle and stay hydrated. Grab your picnic blanket, pack a basket and enjoy a picnic at this magnificent spot.

At Whalers Cabin you can find whale skeletons dating back a hundred years.

5. Tour the Whalers Cabin

Gray Whales passing by Point Lobos Reserve are a sight to admire, and the reason why many people visit the park with their binoculars in hand. The migrating whales might now be an interesting sight to see, but there was a time in history when they were considered natural resources. Back in the 1800s, Chinese and Japanese fishermen settled down in the area, and they were all about the whaling business. Fast forward two centuries and the structure in which the fishermen stayed has turned into a whaling museum, telling the history of the olden days. The cabin has been restored to look how it used to be back in the day, and the garage has turned into a museum, where visitors can learn about the history of the cabin, and even see whale skeletons dating back 100-plus years. A stop by the Whalers Cabin is a must in Point Lobos, C.A.

6. View the Sea Birds on Bird Island

As mentioned before, having binoculars on you is a must when visiting Point Lobos. Not only is the natural reserve a perfect spot for whale viewing, but it’s also a great place for birdwatching. Near the end of Bird Island Trail, you’ll find Pelican Point, from where you can have clear views of — you guessed it — Bird Island. The rocky island is a nesting place for a wide variety of sea birds during the spring and summer months. Expect to see everything from black Brandt’s cormorants and western gulls, to brown pelicans and black-crowned night herons on the island.

There are passageways and hidden coves in Point Lobos you can only reach by kayak.

7. Kayak Along the Pacific

Point Lobos is arguably the best place to kayak in California. The protected marine reserve is surrounded by mind-boggling views that can be best appreciated from the waters. It also has a couple of gorgeous hidden coves that can only be accessed by kayak. If you’re an experienced kayaker who is intrigued by all that the ocean around Point Lobos state park has to offer, contact Kayak Connection for the excursion of a lifetime. It’s important to mention that the waters and the passageways around the park can be a little tricky, so it’s highly advised that first-time paddlers gain a little experience first.

8. Meet the Sea Lions

Point Lobos was named Punta de Los Lobos Marinos, or the Point of Sea Wolves by Spanish occupants, who were inspired by the loud barking of sea lions in the area. The barking can still be heard today, thanks to the hundreds of sea lions who crowd its beaches. In addition to sea lions, otters, and harbor seals also call Point Lobos State Natural Reserve home. One of the best things you can do when visiting the park is to get acquainted with these friendly sea mammals — we assure you that they will brighten your day.

Under the sea, life is more colorful and more vibrant, especially if you’re scuba diving in Point Lobos.

9. Dive Into the Depths of the Ocean

Point Lobos, Carmel, has one of California’s richest marine habitats, and you can only experience the beauty of it by diving deep under the ocean. In the depths of the Pacific, you will find sheltered coves, a vibrant sea life, and captivating underwater topography. Go 70 feet deep into the ocean and discover the underwater forest of kelp at Whalers Cove, with its boulders, valleys, and abundance of sea creatures.

Thanks to it being one of the best scuba diving destinations in California, Point Lobos attracts divers in flocks. Despite the massive amount of divers arriving at the area daily, only 15 teams of two people each can dive on any given day, so you better hurry up and get a permit.

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