Point Lobos SNR
State Natural Reserve
Until further notice, the steps leading to China Cove are closed due to erosion.
This area contains headlands, coves and rolling meadows. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales (from December to May). Thousands of seabirds also make the reserve their home. Hiking trails follow the shoreline and lead to hidden coves. The area used to be the home of a turn-of -the-century whaling and abalone industry. A small cabin built by Chinese fishermen from that era still remains at Whalers Cove and is now a cultural history museum.
On the central coast of California in Monterey County. The entrance is located three miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.
Fair sunny days, occasional winter rains, and dry summers, moderated by fog from July through September, characterize central California's climate.
Facilities - Activities
Guided Walks and Whalers Cabin Museum
A schedule of guided walks for the month is posted at the entrance station. The museums are open as staffing permits, generally from 9 A.M. until 5 P.M. Requests for nature walks, cabin tours, and slide programs led by rangers or docents for schools and private groups require advance written application.
Diving (SCUBA and free)
Diving is permitted only at Whalers and Bluefish Coves. Proof of certification is required. Permission to dive is given when entering the reserve. Reservations are recommended and a must for weekends and holidays.
Point Lobos Foundation - Dive Information
Half of the reserve is all you see unless you're a diver and visit the underwater world just offshore. This is one of the richest marine habitats in California. Its animals and plants are fully protected by state law from any disturbance.
Divers explore a realm of beauty that until this century was inaccessible except to a handful of pioneers. In the subdued light of the 70 foot-high kelp forests, animals without backbones and plants without roots create a world of vibrant color. Lingcod, cabezone and rockfish swim in and out of view. The unexpected appearance of a seal, a sea otter, or whale quickens the heart.
About the park
Deriving its name from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the sound of the sea lions carries inland, the reserve has often been called "the crown jewel of the State Park System." Point Lobos has offered many things to millions of people who have visited it over the years.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging. In addition to the spectacular beauty, nearly every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea.
Respect the power of the ocean. Help avoid a disaster and keep at a safe distance. Remain on the designated trails within the wire guides, and stay away from the rocky cliffs. Rock climbing is absolutely prohibited.
In 2014, a 3D Model of the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve was created to provide divers with landmarks to navigate the Reserve, and allow non-divers with a way to visualize the underwater wonders – without getting wet! The Point Lobos State Marine Reserve 3D Model is located near the parking lot by Whaler’s Cover. To learn more about this model and download a Map designed for divers, visit the Point Lobos Foundation website.
Monterey County Weekly story
KAZU audio story
Dogs are not allowed in the Reserve, even if they are in a vehicle.
- Hours of Operation:
Day Use Area
- Park Office Telephone:
- Purchase Annual Passes
8:00am to 1/2 hour after sunset.
Daylight Savings Time Hours:
8:00am to 7:00pm
9:00am to 5:00pm
(As staffing permits)
Whalers Cabin Museum:
9:00am to 5:00pm
(As staffing permits)
For special events of private or corporate groups, activities or weddings at the Carmel River State Beach call 831-624-3407 or email the Special Events Coordinator.
Route 1 Box 62
Carmel, CA 93923