Have you ever wanted to visit Point Lobos State Reserve? Point Lobos is one of the most beautiful places in California. It’s a secluded cove on the Pacific Ocean that features dramatic cliffs, rocky coves, and sandy beaches.
The area has been preserved as a state park since 1933 and it’s now home to over 1,000 plant species! You can explore trails along the coast or through forests filled with redwoods.
There are also plenty of opportunities for kayaking and hiking throughout this stunning nature reserve. If you love nature then this is definitely somewhere you should check out next time you’re in California and we’re excited to share our visitors guide to Point Lobos State Reserve! Let’s get into it!
About Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is located along the central coast of California, just two hours south of San Francisco. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has been labeled“the crown jewel of the California state park system” for its spectacular scenery. Since it’s so close to San Francisco, if you’re visiting the city Point Lobos State Natural Reserve makes for a great day trip.
There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities available to hikers and photographers alike with animals such as otters, sea lions, seals, and dolphins often seen playing in the waves. There are also more than 1,000 plant species that can be found within Point Lobos.
The reserve was established in 1933 and is home to 280 state parks worldwide today. The reserve covers over 1,000 acres and protects the land around Point Lobos from any future development.
Top Things to do in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
If you enjoy hiking, there are great trails to explore.
More than 16 miles of hiking trails with beautiful views can be found around Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The following are some of the most popular trails:
The Coastal Trail is a 3.8 mile loop that is mostly level with excellent ocean views. A section of the Coastal Trail is handicap accessible
The Cypress Grove Trail is 2.2 miles and also has excellent ocean views; this trail includes benches to stop and enjoy the scenery
The Lighthouse Trail is 1.5 miles long and ends at a lighthouse
The Skyline-to-Sea Trail covers 3.2 miles from cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean to sand dunes below them. There are some steep sections so this is not the best trail for kids
Hike to the top of the Lime Point Lighthouse and get a panoramic view of the entire area. It’s an easy hike that only takes 45 minutes round trip
Explore Natural Bridges Cove at Low Tide
The Natural Bridges Cove is only accessible at low tide. This cove is tucked away at the end of a long expanse of sandy beach and is home to natural bridges that form from the shoreline rocks.
The three natural bridges are called Sea Caves, Arches, and Spouts. These natural bridges are formed from erosion from the waves, wind, and tides that have been wearing down the rocks for millions of years.
The area looks very different when you explore it at low tide because all three bridges become visible while walking on the beach. While there are no guarantees about what animals you’ll spot in this cove, otters and harbor seals can often be seen offshore!
Kayaking is an excellent way to explore the waterside of Point Lobos. There are many kayak vendors near the parking lot that have kayaks available that you can rent for around $25-30 per day, which includes life vests and paddles. You are allowed to kayak until sunset every day of the week.
Along the rocky shore of Point Lobos, there are many caves that can be explored with a kayak. The Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands are also good spots to explore with a kayak
Take the Tide Pools Tour
For only $15, you can get a guided two-hour tour of the tide pools that Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is famous for. The guides provide wetsuits, booties, and snorkel gear when requested. It’s a great way to explore the area and learn about all the marine life that lives in this amazing place.
Many animal species inhabit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve including otters and harbor seals that can often be seen offshore in the nearby cove. Visitors to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve should also not miss the opportunity to watch animals such as otters, sea lions, seals, and dolphins play in the waves.
How to Get to Point Lobos Natural Reserve
The closest airport to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is Monterey Airport. Visitors heading to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve should take Highway 1 south from the airport and then take Highway 101 just after leaving Monterey. There are local buses that can help visitors get to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, but they only run on weekends and holidays during the summer, so plan ahead.
Getting there is easy as there are road signs guiding you towards Point Lobos State Natural Reserve all throughout Pacific Grove, California (the closest town). If arriving by car from San Francisco, take Highway One/US-101 South for 118 miles to Highway 68 West towards Pacific Grove/Carmel-by-the-Sea. You will then turn left onto Lighthouse Avenue and drive for .7 miles before parking in one of the reserve’s six lots.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is open from 8 AM to sunset every day of the week. There are two main parking lots: one at Whalers Cove and one at Cypress Grove Beach.
Best time of year to visit Point Lobos Natural Reserve
The best time to visit Point Lobos is between the months of January and June. The climate during these months averages around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Visiting in the summertime, although it will be hot out, means that you can enjoy both the wildlife and the natural beauty of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. You can also enjoy kayaking and snorkeling during the summertime, making it a fun adventure.
Things to Know Before Visiting Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
- Be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and water for this state park visit as there is not much shade along the trails. If you’re planning on taking a lot of photos then be sure to bring extra memory cards or film because there are plenty of beautiful vistas around Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
- There are plenty of restaurants nearby Point Lobos State Natural Reserve which makes it an ideal spot for lunch after your hike, but be sure to visit during daylight hours as Point Lobos’ gates are locked at night!
- The reserve is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends along.
- There is no camping allowed in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve as it’s a protected area and has been designated for day use only.
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is two hours south of San Francisco and makes for one of the best day trips from San Francisco you can do.
- There are many incredible vistas along the trails and several species of wildlife can be seen on a visit to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The area is also home numerous plant species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world!
Point Lobos State Reserve is a hidden gem that’s located on the Central Coast of California. If you’re looking for an easy day trip from San Francisco, this should be your destination. The reserve has often been called “the crown jewel” of all 280 state parks in California and it continues to draw people interested in seeing beautiful vistas. We hope you enjoyed your visitor’s guide for Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, happy travels!