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The Highlights of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Monterey, California

Updated August 31, 2020

When I first read about Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, I knew I had to visit. This stunning little hidden gem on the Pacific Coast Highway is the perfect quick stop on your road trip down Highway 1 – or the perfect place to escape the world for a few days if you have the time.

My brother and I only stopped for a short time at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve on our short trip down Highway 1 and Big Sur this May, but when we got there we wished we could have stayed for ten times as long.

The waters were so unbelievably blue, and there was simply no way for us to see everything that we wanted to in the hour that we had to spend there.

Things To Do At Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

With a practically minuscule amount of time, we knew that we wanted to hit all of the highlights. But we also didn’t want to rush ourselves. In the end, I think we did a pretty good job of exploring Point Lobos in the small amount of time that we had.

South Shore Trail

We started out on the South Shore Trail, following it along the coast and admiring it all. We loved watching the waves crash up against the rocks, and stood mesmerized for several minutes watching a small jet of water that blew through a crevice every time the waves made it high enough.

a rocky cliff jutting out into the ocean
rocky cliffs along the coastline at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

By far the craziest thing about the entire experience, though, was just how mind-numbingly blue the water was. It’s true, I’ve seen blue water in my days, but I’d never seen anything like this. It was a deep, crystal clear blue, and it was easily the most entrancing thing that I’ve ever seen.

small yellow flowers in front of a deep blue ocean

Sand Hill Trail and The Slot

From the South Shore trail, we made our way along the Sand Hill trail to admire some more stunning blue waters and crazy rock formations.

addie standing and smiling on a trail at point lobos state natural reserve
a moody coastline with rocks cliffs jutting up from the ocean

Then we doubled back to where we had parked our car and further on towards “The Slot”. There, we were able to climb down closer towards the ocean and found some pretty cool little tide pools.

The whole time, I was taking a million pictures. And, as it seemed to be for most of our road trip, Connor was taking pictures of me taking pictures.

addie standing in front of a small tidepool taking pictures at point lobos

I dragged my feet as we returned the car, not ready to leave the place that I was so sure I was meant to spend the rest of my days. But we had about 50 more fish to fry that day and a ticket time for Hearst Castle that we didn’t want to miss.

Given the chance to return to Point Lobos, I would love to be able to explore the sections of forest further away from the shore. I’d also kill to spend more time simply staring out at the ocean and contemplating my existence, as I so enjoy doing.

Go Scuba Diving

One thing that we didn’t do during our visit to Point Lobos (partly because I didn’t know it existed and also because I wasn’t a certified diver at the time) was go scuba diving.

That’s right, you can dive at Point Lobos!

A few highlights of a Point Lobos dive include a kelp forest, coral, and sea lions!

If you’re an experienced diver with a buddy, you can make reservations to dive here. Otherwise, book a diving tour with Spranglers Scuba here.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – The Basics

If you’re making a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway anytime soon, then be sure to bookmark this post. You’ll kick yourself if you realize you drove right past Point Lobos State Natural Reserve without stopping.

Sure, there are crazy blue waters all along Highway 1. But this place is a hidden gem, which means that you’ll have those crazy blue waters all to yourself (unlike, say, the 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach).

Point Lobos Hours

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is open for day use from 8 am to 5 pm.

Point Lobos Entrance Fee

Entrance is $10 per car.

Point Lobos Trail Map

Be sure to check out the trail map when you get there. If you only have a short amount of time, I highly suggest the South Shore Trail, which offers a m a z i n g views over the ocean.

For an interactive experience, check out the Discover Point Lobos App!

Where to Stay Near Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Although you can’t stay in Point Lobos itself, there is plenty of great accommodation options nearby! Here are a few of my favorites.

Camping & Glamping

Saddle Mountain Ranch, RV, and Campground – Just an 18-minute drive from Point Lobos, Saddle Mountain Ranch has everything you could possibly want – from tent and RV sites to glamping to cabins. Saddle Mountain also has an exclusive hiking trail!

Big Sur Campground and Cabins – Located a little farther away from Point Lobos, Big Sur Campground and Cabins is a family-friendly spot that’s perfect for exploring all of Big Sur. They have tent sites, RV sites, and cabins.


Cathedral Redwood Studio – If you’re looking for the kind of place that has often been described as magical, this is it. This charming studio cabin is perfect for a couple and is located just a short drive from Point Lobos in the Carmel Highlands.

★ One of Most Beautiful Spots on Earth ★ Views ★ – This bright and airy house has huge windows and everything you need for a comfortable stay! Also located in the nearby Carmel Highlands.


Sandpiper Inn – For a charming sea cottage feel just one block from the Pacific Ocean, you’ll want the Sandpiper Inn. This adults-only B&B features individually designed rooms and also serves afternoon tea daily!

Carriage House Inn – This luxury inn features rooms with fireplaces and two-person spa baths. It would be the perfect place to base yourself for a romantic weekend on the California coast!

Hyatt Carmel Highlands – If you’re looking for the ultimate in modern cliff-side luxury (including alllll of the giant windows), this is it.

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Addie Gray is a recent college grad and a passionate solo female traveler. Having traveled to more than 20 countries, she now shares her knowledge on budget travel, solo female travel, and travel photography.


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