Zmudowski State Beach
This beach is a popular fishing area and anglers have been know to catch perch, kingfish, sole, flounder, halibut, salmon, steelhead and rockfish. It also includes the Pajaro River estuary, where a natural preserve has been set aside. There are 177 acres to explore.
The sandy beach is a natural for bird-watchers. And since horses are allowed near the waterline, it's also a favorite of equestrians. Although this beach is popular for surfing, swimming and water sports can be hazardous because of strong rip-currents.
Moss Landing State Beach
Offshore fishing, surfing, windsurfing and horseback riding are popular here. It’s also a good place for picnics because the dunes protect it from the afternoon winds. This area is an important stop for birds migrating along the Pacific Fly-way, so there’s much for bird-watchers to see. However, water recreation is dangerous because of strong rip currents.
The beach is located on Jetty Road in Moss Landing and 16 miles north of Monterey via Highway 1.
Salinas River State Beach
Salinas River State Beach lies in a cove between the mouth of the Salinas River and town of Moss Landing.
It protects one of the area's most interesting sand dune areas. The dunes are beautiful to look at, but visitors must stay on the 2-mile trail that follows the Salinas River.
It's also a popular spot for fishing, bird watching and horseback riding. The Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge us just south of the beach and is home to many species of wild birds, including Western meadowlarks, hawks, jays, valley quail, finches, towhees and sparrows, as well as least terns, brown pelicans and endangered snowy plovers.
The California State Parks service recommends that you not swim at this beach. The water is cold; waves are strong; there are no lifeguards; and the surf is unpredictable.
Marina State Beach
Marina State Beach includes a boardwalk that winds through the famous sand dunes and enables us to get a first-hand look at them, while protecting the environmentally sensitive Marina Dunes Natural Preserve at the same time.
The dunes are a popular spot for hang gliders, who are often seen around the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. In addition to fishing, surfing, bird watching and whale watching, radio-controlled gliders and kites are also popular.
The beach is a favorite site for picnics. However, water recreation is extremely hazardous due to strong rip currents. The area includes one of the largest marine sanctuaries in the Monterey Bay.
Monterey State Beach
Monterey State Beach is a conveniently located stretch of coastline that's a favorite spot for surfers, fishermen, tide pool watchers. Because it's flat, it's also an excellent place for beach combing.
The park actually has three separate beaches located about 1 mile apart. The underwater area of the park attracts scuba divers, while other visitors enjoy kayaking, kite-flying and volleyball.
The park is located at the Seaside exit off Highway 218, west of Highway 1.
Del Monte Beach
This is a nice open beach with a board walk that winds through the dunes, providing an up-close look at this fragile restoration area. There are convenient picnic tables located along the trail. Checkout this webcam view of the beach.
At Lover's Point in Pacific Grove, you'll find a 4.5-acre park, a recreation trail and a lovely beach. As the name implies, this is a popular spot for weddings and romantic beach walks. Activities include picnicking, biking, fishing, surfing, beach volleyball and a children's swimming pool.
Asilomar State Beach
Located in the city of Pacific Grove, the romantic Asilomar State Beach offers surf, sand and forest. The beach itself is a narrow one-mile strip combining sandy beach and rocky coves. There's also a 3/4-mile walking trail that goes along the coast and a close-by paved bicycle lane.
One of our favorite getaways is staying overnight at the rustic, but comfortable Asilomar Hotel on the Asilomar Conference Grounds (see picture above). The 100+ acre facility has been around for over 50 years and provides a peaceful back-to-nature retreat.
The resources of this lovely area are protected for posterity as part of the Pacific Grove Fish Garden Refuge and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Play Video of Asilomar State Beach & Conference Grounds
by California State Parks (3 min)
Carmel River State Beach
Carmel River State Beach, located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, is popular for hiking, kayaking and -- during the summer months -- sunbathing. However, on many-a-visit, we've been surprised by the fog and cool weather. (At its warmest, the water is not more than 60 degrees.) The mile-long beach is part of a bird sanctuary where you’ll see a wide variety of waterfowl and song birds.
Carmel River State Beach is known for its lagoon. The combination of fresh water and salt water is the lifeblood for the plant life in the marsh, which in turn, provides food and shelter for a variety of animals, from tiny aquatic organisms to large waterfowl.
Point Lobos State Reserve
Point Lobos is often called "the crown jewel of the State Park System." You'll find spectacular headlands, hidden coves and rolling meadows. However, that's only half of the reserve. The other half is the protected waters offshore, which contain one of the richest marine habitats in the world. This area is extremely popular with divers who can explore 70 foot-high kelp forests and the myriad unique plants and animals that create an underwater world of vibrant color.
Wildlife is abundant on both land and sea - seals, sea lions, sea otters, migrating gray whales (December to May) and seabirds. Point Lobos is exceptional for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking and diving.
We can highly recommend taking one of the guided nature walks and visiting the Whalers Cabin Museum.
Play Video of Point Lobos (Timeless Coast)
by California State Parks (19 minutes)
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Named to honor the respected pioneer woman, Julia Pheiffer Burns, the park extends from the beach to 3,000 foot granite cliffs above. The most spectacular feature is the 80-foot water fall that drops directly into the Pacific Ocean. Impressive views of the ocean, redwood trees and coastal plants are abundant in this rugged area.
Play Video of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
by Califonria State Parks (2:30 min)
Limekiln State Park
Located along Highway 1 (about 55 miles south of Carmel), Limekiln State park offers breathtaking views of the Big Sur Coast combined with the beauty of the redwood forests. The park's interesting name comes from the actual lime kilns that were used to bake lime out of the abundant limestone in the area during the 1800's. The lime was then used for building materials, which became quite a profitable business at that time.
The park offers beach camping along a sandy cove, as well as campsites in the redwood forests high above. Especially during the spring, we can recommend the hike through the redwoods, up to the beautiful Limekiln Falls.