If you are looking for the best beaches in Monterey, I got you covered. 

Monterey, located on the Pacific coast between Santa Cruz County and San Francisco Bay, attracts millions of visitors yearly.

Thanks to its ninety-nine miles of fantastic shoreline, from Moss Landing in the North to the Big Sur in the South, these gorgeous Monterey beaches are filled with teeming marine life and spectacular views.

Beaches in Monterey Bay are among the best choices for a vacation with family or a solo adventure. 

The dramatic cliffs, rocky outcroppings, and clear waters make them a perfect holiday destination.

Swim in the ocean or soak up some rays on the clean sandy beaches in Monterey, or indulge in activites like Whale watching tours, hiking or beach combing. 

Whether you are looking for the best Monterey Beaches with tranquil or bustling beaches in Monterey, California, with surfing and tide pooling, Monterey has something for everyone.

In this post, you will discover the best beaches in Monterey, tips to enjoy Monterey beaches to the fullest, and a glimpse of the Monterey beaches map.

First things first! I recommend you get travel insurance ALWAYS whenever you are on international or domestic travel! 

Check out this insurance by Safety Wing, which offers a pretty good cover for you and your family! They even provide monthly insurance, much required for slow travelers like us! Book here!


Although Monterey Beaches are enticing, it is good to know some facts and tips about these beaches.

1) Check the weather conditions: Weather at Monterey can be chilly and vary from the high 50s to the low 70s Fahrenheit year-round. 

So cover in layers and check the surf report before hitting the beach.

2) Swim with caution: Most beaches in Monterey have rip currents, are too choppy for swimming, and the temperature of the waters can be freezing. 

Wear a life jacket, stay close to the shore and always follow posted rules and regulations of the beach.

3) Respect Wildlife: Monterey Peninsula is a part of the protected reserve. 

You will see wide varieties of marine animals and plants; it is also advisable not to touch or feed them.

4) Wear proper beach shoes: Some beaches in Monterey are covered with a rocky shoreline, and you might have to ascend or descend a few steps to access the beach. Wear sturdy beach shoes.

5) Dogs and Parking: Some beaches in Monterey are dog-friendly, and on some, you need to take them on a leash. 

Parking is typically free, but some might require an entrance fee. Check out these items, which I regularly use on my trips:

If you want to drive along the beautiful Pacific shoreline and looking for a rental car, check out Discover Cars, one of my favourites in the US because of its ease of use, availability of vehicles and pricing!



  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free along Sunset Drive 
  • Amenities: Boardwalk, Trails, Dunes 
  • Pets: No

One of the best beaches in Monterey is Monterey State Beach, located along the beautiful Monterey Bay. 

It is one of the local’s favourites due to its incredible scenery, array of outdoor activities and easy access.

You will notice that Monterey State Beach is divided into two segments, separated by Del Monte Beach. 

So it is a series of three beaches spread apart a mile from each other.

Surrounded by a series of rugged cliffs, the Monterey Beach area is a perfect spot for hiking or relaxing.

Check out the Southern end of the Beach near Fisherman’s Wharf 2 Pier, known as Window on the Bay Beach, which has a long stretch of Sand ideal for working on your tan lines or Beachcombing.

best beaches in Monterey

You will witness a variety of treasures such as sea shells, driftwood and even some occasional pieces of sea glass for your souvenir collection. 

Look out for coastal sea birds like seagulls and pelicans around.

Monterey State Beach offers five miles of sandy shoreline which is apt for activities like beach volleyball or having picnic lunches or barbecues with families. 

Visit the Monterey Bay Waterfront Park, especially if you are with kids. 

If you love hiking, check out the Monterey Bay Recreational Trail. 

Monetery State Beach is dog-friendly so you can get your pup on a leash. Porty-Potties are available, which are basic.

I recommend visiting the Beach during the early hours since the small parking area has limited parking facilities.

Recommended: Monterey State Historic Park and Fisherman’s Wharf: A Self-Guided Audio Tour

Check out this guided tour to explore Fisherman’s Wharf and the state historic park. Book here.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free 
  • Amenities: Restrooms, Boardwalk, Dunes, Picnic Tables and Benches
  • Pets: On Leash

Nestled between two beautiful beaches on the Monterey State Beach stretch ( Windows on the Bay and Houghton M. Roberts), Del Monte Beach is one of the secluded and best beaches in Monterey, known for its white sandy shoreline.

The Beach is accessible via the boardwalk trail near the old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, West of Del Monte Avenue.

Del Monte Beach is also one of the quiet beaches in Monterey. Especially if you are an early riser and want to jog on the sandy shores, this is the best Beach. 

Fun Fact: If you want to take a self-introspection walk or are an avid jogger, you have the entire shoreline from the South end to the North and even further up to Sand City Beach and beyond. You can walk nonstop for miles along the ocean and on the Beach.

You can try swimming or kayaking, but the currents are rough. You might see Surfers trying their skills during the day.

Enjoy Kite flying or strolling on the boardwalk. Firepits and picnic tables are lined up along the boardwalk.

If you get contented with sunbathing or Beachcombing, explore the beautiful trails around Del Monte Beach, leading to spectacular cliff edges and dunes.

Check out the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, which meanders along the back of the Beach. 

This trail offers excellent views of the Pacific Coast Groves and is known for its vibrant wildflowers spread, especially during Spring.

Dogs are allowed but ensure to keep them on a leash since the area is a designated reserve to protect endangered birds. 

Parking at Del Monte Beach is not defined, but you will see some limited space. 

Visit during early hours to avoid crowds, especially during long weekends. Well-maintained porta potties are available.

Recommended: Full-Day Kayak Rental Monterey Bay with Otters, Seals and Sea Lions

When in Monterey, kayaking on the bay is a must. Most renters describe this activity as the highlight of their visit to the area. 

There are so many mammals and birds to see when on the water. Book here!


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset 
  • Parking: Nominal Fee 
  • Amenities: Historic features, tide pools 
  • Pets: No

Located on the South of Cannery Row off Hoffman Avenue, McAbee Beach is one of the best beaches in Monterey, known for its stunning high tide views.

McAbee Beach is one of the secluded beaches near Monterey Bay Aquarium and a local hotspot for Surfing, scuba diving, kayaking and paddleboarding.

The Beach is lined up with tall trees and has plenty of regions with shallow waters for wading.

Check out the rental kiosks around the Beach to rent a kayak, canoe or scuba diving equipment.

Go tide pooling when the tides are low. You will witness fantastic tidepools filled with seagrass, starfish, hermit crabs and anemones. Collect various varieties of shells on this beach.

The main draw of McAbee Beach is its location. There are tons of beachfront restaurants which offer mouth-watering seafood cuisines.

Go shopping on the Cannery Row, or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Steinbeck Plaza or Cannery Row Monument if you have spare time. 

You can always head back to the Beach via the stairs to enjoy an incredible sunset or a lovely evening stroll along the shoreline. Parking is limited near the Beach.

Recommended: Monterey Bay Drive: A Self-Guided Audio Tour from Del Monte Beach to Cannery Row

If you want to explore both sides of Fisherman’s Wharf, John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and the Aquarium, book the tour here!

Recommended: Historic Cannery Row: A Self-Guided Audio Tour of John Steinbeck’s Monterey

On this tour, you will learn about the rise and fall of the local fishing industry, Steinbeck’s work and the neighbourhood’s revival. Book here.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, rentals
  • Pets: On Leash on the sidewalk only

Located in the heart of Monterey Bay on the East side of the Monterey Peninsula, Lover’s Point Beach in Pacific Grove is one of the best beaches in Monterey.

It is located at a 1.5-hour driving distance from Pescadero, and you can conveniently put this on your day trip list if you are looking for things to do in Pescadero.

Lover’s Point Beach is a part of the beautiful 4.4-acre Lover’s point park, dotted with cypress trees and rugged cliffs.

Have lunch on the picnic benches and grassy patches, take a romantic stroll with your loved one on the sidewalk facing the Beach or play volleyball. 

An exclusive kids’ section on the Beach features a kids’ pool.

You will notice a concrete jetty-like structure dividing the two white sandy patches on the shoreline, making it a natural barrier to protect the shore from high tides and enabling safe swimming conditions.

best beaches in Monterey

If you are an artist and are into plein painting, this is one the best places in Monterey to draw inspiration. 

You might bump into fellow artists during the early hours of the day.

Lover’s Point Beach is also one of the local’s favourites, especially on the West Coast, since this is the only East facing Beach where you can glimpse a stunning sunrise.

Try stand Up Paddle Boarding, Scuba diving, Kayaking or Canoeing. You will spot various varieties of coastal birds, like Gulls and Pelicans, soaring above the waves.

Take caution before entering waters since the rip tides can be dangerous here sometimes, and the water is too cold due to coastal winds.

There are a couple of excellent beach-facing restaurants and grills with various varieties of mouth-watering seafood cuisines.

Parking is available along Ocean View Boulevard, and you can get your puppy on a leash only on the sidewalk.

If you have spare time, visit the nearby Lover’s Point State Marine Reserve to observe and learn about the diverse Marine wildlife or take a trip to Point Pinos Lighthouse, located 1.5 miles from the Beach. 

Recommended: Monterey Coastline Self-Guided Electric Bike Tour

What’s more fun than exploring the gorgeous coastline via E-bike at your own pace? Isn’t it? Book a self-guided tour here.

Another recommended E-bike tour: Monterey Half-Day Electric Scooter Rental.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Nominal Fee
  • Amenities: Public restrooms, Parking
  • Pets: Allowed

If you are looking for beaches near Monterey California, head to Carmel-by-the-Sea, which features a rugged shoreline dotted with rocky cliffs and is home to pleasant, sandy beaches, making it one of the pretty Northern California beach towns.

Start your beach excursion in Carmel-by-the-sea by visiting Carmel Beach, considered one of the best beaches in Monterey.

The gorgeous long crescent of white powdery and sandy shoreline bordered by ancient cypress trees is ideal for a perfect evening stroll.

The Beach is usually quiet, and you can spend a lovely evening witnessing one of the incredible sunsets in Monterey.

best beach towns in California

Access to Carmel Beach is relatively easy, and you will have to walk down Ocean Avenue’s white dunes, and you will see signages of Carmel Beach Parking and the entrance.

Strolling Carmel Beach during the early hours is a popular activity among the locals here. 

Lovely views of the Pacific, waves crashing against the shoreline and the views of colourful coastal birds; What else can you ask for a refreshing morning Jog!

Grab a cup of coffee from one of the cosy cafes on Ocean Avenue before heading to the Beach.

If you want a higher vantage point of the panoramic scene, walk on the long bluff above Carmel Beach. Take the stairs if you’re going to head back to the Beach.

Play beach volleyball, fly a kite, spread a towel on the powdery sand to work on your tans lines or go swimming. 

Caution; the tides are rough, and there aren’t any lifeguards on this beach.

Dogs are allowed both on and off-leash. Public Restrooms are available on both ends of this beach.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: Public restrooms, Parking, Rentals
  • Pets: On Leash

Carmel River State Beach is a stunning stretch of coastline in Monterey County, which spans a mile and cannot be missed on the list of best beaches in Monterey.

The main draw of this Beach is its formation from a lagoon, and this is where the Carmel River empties into the Pacific Ocean. 

The view and the water flow at this point are a visual treat. Fun Fact: The shape of the lagoon keeps occasionally changing! 

Try to capture pictures and compare them when you visit the second time.

This beautiful patch of lagoon beach is home to various land and coastal birds. 

Carmel River State Beach is a significant point on the Central Coast Birding Trail, which also features beautiful Wetlands Natural Preserve.

Carmel River State Beach is a must-visit location for birding enthusiasts. 

Nude beaches in California

Apart from flocks of Pelicans and Sea Gulls, you will witness various birds.

Get a pair of binoculars to spot colourful birds like egrets, Virginia Rails, Terek sandpipers, Californian brown pelicans, Great Blue Herons, terns and other coastal and migratory birds.

Try Kayaking at Carmel River State Beach, one of the best ways to explore the reserve and observe the stunning wildlife. 

The Beach is also a convenient Kayak launch point to access the nearby Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

The river side of the Beach is convenient for newbie swimmers and kayakers. The beachside is rough with rip tides, and swimming might be dangerous.

Several tide pools around this region are filled with vibrant marine life like sea anemones, urchins, starfishes and crabs.

The Monastery Beach on the far end of the Carmel River State beach, at a distance of 1.7 miles, is a hotspot for diving since the area sits right next to the lush marine kelp forest.

Public Restrooms are available at the entrance, near the end of Carmelo Street. Parking is available, but the space is small and quickly gets crowded.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: Public restrooms, Parking, Clothing-Optional
  • Pets: On Leash

Another popular destination in Carmel-by-the-sea is Carmel Meadows Beach, located in front of the Meadows Beach community.

It is an extension of the Carmel River State Beach, located a few miles from downtown Monterey.

Access Carmel Meadows Beach via Ribera Road or take a beautiful walk along the trail from the North end of Monastery Beach and take the stairs down to reach this beach.

Unwind on the white sandy shoreline and take in the views of rocky coves while appreciating the serenity.

Fun Fact: You can pop off your clothes at Carmel Meadows Beach since it is one of the best nude beaches in California.

naked in Texas

Walk on the bluff path that navigates from State Park to Monastery Beach, especially during Spring when the trail will be adorned with vibrant coastal wildflowers. 

You will be rewarded with fantastic cliff views and the best sunset views in Monterey.

Look for a teeming life underwater during low tides, including colourful starfish, hermit crabs, urchins and anemones.

I recommend taking a guided e-bike tour on this one of the gorgeous nude beaches in California to explore the naturally formed rocks and the rugged coastline.

Get your furry friend on a leash. The tides are rough and dangerous. Caution before you swim. Parking is available along Cuesta Way and Ribera Road.


  • Hours: 8 AM TO 7 PM
  • Parking: $10 per vehicle
  • Amenities: Public restrooms, Parking, Hiking Trails
  • Pets: Not Allowed

A 15-minute drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea will lead you to the “Crown Jewel of the State Park System” in California, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

The name is apt for this reserve since it is filled with fantastic hiking trails that offer splendid views of Big Sur and the best beaches in Monterey, which offer sweeping views of the Pacific. 

Managed by the Parks & Recreation Department of California, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, one of the best hidden gems in Southern California, is a haven for beachgoers. 

You will get to visit its series of eight gorgeous beaches.

hikes in Point Reyes

Go on a beach trip along the five miles of rugged shoreline dotted with dramatic cliffs and secluded coves and check out these eight beaches at your own pace: Weston Beach, Hidden Beach, Gibson Beach, Whalers Cove, China Cove, Headland Cove, Moss Cove, and Sea Lion Cove.

The natural reserve is home to rich marine life, and you can spot seals, sea otters, pelicans, sea lions and Whales. 

It is an excellent spot for Surfing, swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, SUP, or enjoying the panoramic views of the Pacific.

This area has lovely tide pools with colourful underwater life, making this one of the best California Tide Pools.

There are many stunning coves accessible by hiking or roads, with the famous ones Lobos’shaler’s Cove, Sea LDevil’se, and China Cove, known for unique colour rocks.

If you are up for hiking, check out the 6-mile trail that will take you through the ancient Monterey Cypress groves, one of Point Lobos’s main attractions. Devil’s Cauldron is also worth stopping by.

beaches in Monterey

The other famous hiking trails leading to magnificent views are the Point Lobos Loop Trail, South Plateau Trail, South Shore Trail for watching the sea lions, and Lace Lichen Trail.

For the best birdwatching experience, check out Bird Island. 

If you are here in winter, you may also spot the migrating grey whales. 

There are also picnic tables at Point Lobos for relaxing and eating.

Recommended: Half-Day Whale Watching Tour From Monterey

Look for whales as they migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of California on this half-day whale-watching cruise from Monterey. Book here.

Other recommended whale-watching tours: 

Monterey Whale Watching Tour

Afternoon Whale Watch

Whale Watching Tour


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: nominal fee
  • Amenities: restrooms, rentals
  • Pets: Allowed

Located on the Pacific Grove, Asilomar State Beach is a strip of a one-mile sandy beach and is one of the best beaches in Monterey.

The Beach is dotted with rocky coves and is ideal for outdoor recreational activities. Asilomar State Beach is a perfect stopover point if you drive on the 17-mile Drive.

The backend of the Beach is home to the rugged Asilomar coastal trail, which starts from Point Pinos on the North and ends on the back of the Asilomar State Beach. Go hiking to enjoy the fantastic ocean views on this trail.

Asilomar State Beach is a part of Conference Grounds State Park, an official conference centre for the YWCA in the early 1900s.

Julia Morgan, the architect of the world-renowned Hearst Castle, has designed 13 buildings on this campus which are used as a place for social gatherings and other community-based events.

One of the buildings also operates as the Asilomar Hotel, with well-equipped rooms, unique suites, and on-site dining.

You can access the Beach via a quarter-mile boardwalk through the Asilomar Sand Dunes. Go Kayaking, Swimming or unwind on the sandy shores to take in the incredible Pacific views.

california tidepooling

The rip tides are dangerous, and no lifeguards are on this beach. Asilomar looks gorgeous, especially during Sunsets with all hues of Purple and Orange in the sky.

Get a pair of binoculars; you might spot colourful coastal birds like Brandt’s Cormorants, Sanderlings, Pelicans and Gulls. 

Several Picnic benches are available along the Asilomar Coastal trail, which serves as vantage points for the best views of the Pacific Grove.

Learn about the importance and history of the region via informative placards on this Beach.

Fishing isn’t allowed in Asilomar State Beach since it is a protected Marine Reserve.

Recommended: 1-Hour Monterey and Cannery Row Sea Car Tour

2-Hour Monterey and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour

3-Hour Monterey, Cannery Row and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour

Drive through the streets of Monterey and Pacific Grove in a Sea Car, a 2-seat vehicle with a GPS-enabled tour narrative. Explore Fisherman’s Wharf, Lover’s Point, and Cannery Row. Book here! 

If you want a 3-hour guided sea car tour, book here!

If you want a 1-hour guided sea car tour, book here!


One famous Monterey activity is driving on the 17-mile Drive, an iconic stretch in the Monterey Peninsula that runs along the best beaches in Monterey.

Winding around Monterey Bay, the road takes through a lush forest area dotted with towering pines and foliage.

Check out the sandy beaches like Pebble Beach, home to the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course and a mansion.

Take a 2.5-hour e-bike tour to stop by beautiful beaches like Moss Beach, Bird Rock Beach, and Seal Rock Creek Beach, which are gorgeous vantage points on this route and offer incredible views of the Pacific.

best beaches in Monterey

Recommended: 2.5-Hour Electric Bike Tour Along 17 Mile Drive of Coastal Monterey

Don’t miss the iconic Lone Cypress tree, estimated to be 200-250 years old. 

Standing tall and proud on the rocky shorelines of the Pacific, this tree has been a symbol of resilience and strength for centuries.

Other notable pullovers on the 17-mile Drive include The Restless Sea and the Pebble Beach Visitor Center.

Recommended: Private Tour to Monterey, 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, & Carmel

If you are in San Francisco and are short on time but want to explore the gorgeous Monterey Beaches and epic 17-mile Drive, book this private tour here, which starts from San Francisco.

Other recommended 17-mile drive tours:

Private Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive Day Trip from San Francisco

BEST 17-Mile Drive, Carmel and Monterey Day Trip from San Francisco

The Best Adventure Tour to Monterey, Carmel and 17 Miles Drive

Discover Monterey, Carmel, the 17-Mile Drive & the stunning scenery of Hwy 1

Private Tour of Monterey, Carmel & the 17-Mile Drive from San Francisco

Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive – Full Day Tour from San Francisco

Scenic 17-Mile Drive Tour – Self-Drive Audio Guide from Monterey & Carmel


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: $10 along the Street, Free along Sunset Boulevard
  • Amenities: Boardwalk, trails, dunes 
  • Pets: No

One of the best beaches in Monterey, known for its stunning white sand and crystal clear waters, is Spanish Bay Beach, a beautiful extension of the Pebble Beach Stretch.

Walk on the half-mile rustic wooden boardwalk dotted with vibrant coastal wildflowers and meanders through the dunes, or unwind on the clean sand to enjoy the best sunset views.

Take as many candids as you want since the scenery is stunningly beautiful, with a vast expansive shoreline adorned with white sand and the turquoise waters of the Pacific in the background adding charm to the scene.

I insist on not swimming on Spanish Bay Beach since the tides are rough and dangerous. There are tons of other activites that you can do on this beach.

things to do in cambria county

Go for a walk, play with the sand, do sunbathing and Beachcombing, grab your surfboard and surf with fellow wet-clad surfers. 

Try Golfing in the adjacent Links at the Spanish Bay golf course.

Hike along the boardwalk trail, which navigates from Moss Beach in the South to Asilomar in the North and offers spectacular Pacific views.

You will see small stacks of rocks, a fun activity which has been quite popular on Spanish Bay Beach for decades.

During sunset, you will see the performance of the Bagpiper, which goes on for 45 minutes. 

The play starts on the first tee at The Links at Spanish Bay and ends on the second green.

Pets aren’t allowed at Spanish Bay Beach. Free Parking is available along Sunset Boulevard, a few meters from the Beach.

Recommended: Coastal Pebble Beach 17 Mile Drive Guided E-bike Tour, Cannery Row

Ride an E-bike from Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, navigating through historical spots and iconic landmarks in Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. Book here.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset 
  • Parking: Nominal fee 
  • Amenities: Grass lawn, picnic tables, paved bike path, restrooms
  • Pets: No

If you are looking for the best beaches in Monterey with Scuba diving, you should check out San Carlos Beach, located East of Cannery Row next to the Coast Guard Pier.

The Beach is accessible via many places, but the popular access point is from the San Carlos Beach parking lot. 

You can stroll from there or ride a bike on the coastal path.

Patchy grass lawns, white sandy stretches, and picnic tables along the perfect views of the Pacific make it an ideal location and one of the best beaches in Monterey Ca.

best beaches in Monterey

San Carlos region is home to lush kelp forests and varieties of marine wildlife, making it a haven for scuba divers. 

They usually go in search of discarded cannery gear and machinery.

Go hiking on the paved Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, which connects several vantage points and nearby Monterey attractions, including Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Grab your favourite drink from one of the cafes on the nearby Cannery Row and relax on the picnic benches taking in the gorgeous views of the Pacific.

San Carlos is also an excellent spot for birdwatching. You may spot various varieties of shorebirds like pelicans, cormorants and terns.

Watch for the seals lazying around on the shoreline.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset 
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: restrooms
  • Pets: On Leash

Located at the end of the State Beach stretch, next, to the Fisherman’s Wharf 2 Pier, Municipal Beach is one of the best beaches in Monterey, known for its safest and ideal swimming conditions in the region.

Since the Beach is North facing and is protected by the Wharf, it enables a favourable environment for a refreshing morning plunge.

Rent a watercraft or kayak and explore the calm waters of Monterey Municipal Beach. 

Go with your beach towel and maybe your favourite book since you can spend all day on this well-maintained Beach.

best beaches in Monterey

The Beach is also apt for long romantic strolls with your loved ones or a solo self-introspection walk. 

You can walk miles together until the Window on Bay Beach, part of Monterey State Beach.

Try various seafood cuisines in nearby restaurants or explore charming pubs. 

There are many cute gift shops if you want to shop for your souvenir collection.

If you have spare time, go hiking or cycling on the Monterey Coastal Trail, one of the region’s best trails for amazing Pacific views.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: None
  • Pets: On Leash

Along the Northern side of the Big Sur coastline is the Garrapata State Park, home to one of the hidden and best beaches in Monterey, Garrapata State Beach.

Navigating this park is not an easy task. But trust me, when you are there and walk a few miles, you will land in a 2-mile stretch of mini paradise.

The Beach is secluded, and you can spend hours together in tranquillity gazing at the lovely Pacific and the waves crashing against the rugged shoreline.

Hike to this Beach is an adventure in itself. Along the way, you will be greeted with gorgeous caverns, rocky cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and wildflowers in all hues of oranges and purple, especially during Spring.

beaches in Monterey

If you enjoy Surfing, you should try the two beautiful creeks at the Garrapata state park, which cuts through the Beach on its path to the Pacific. 

On the South end, Surf the Garrapata Creek, and somewhere in the mid of the Beach, you can try Doud Creek.

During Spring, you will witness beautiful calla lilies around Doud Creek; capture some insta worthy pics.

Though you may not spot wildlife, unlike the other beaches here, you may spot sea otters during specific periods of the year.

You can access this Beach from mile markers 18 and 19 at Garrapata State Park. I usually enjoy walking the trail until mile marker 19, and then I take the stairs that lead to the Beach.

Parking usually gets crowded on weekends and days when the weather is favourable. You can park along the shoulder of California Highway 1. Get your pups on a leash.

Recommended: Carmel Monterey and Big Sur

This private tour provides an excellent solution; you travel in the comfort of a private vehicle and can visit each stop at your own pace. 

Create your itinerary, or follow the recommendations of a guide as you explore Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, and more. Book here!


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: None
  • Pets: On Leash

If you are driving on California Highway 1, take a pit stop at one of the best beaches in Monterey, Monastery Beach.

This gorgeous crescent-shaped beach gets its name from the nearby Carmelite Monastery. Unwind of the clean sand and observe the chirping of colourful coastal birds.

During peak migrating seasons in Winter and Spring, you might spot grey whales. 

Monastery Beach is also a hotspot for scuba diving, thanks to the Monterey Canyon, filled with abundant marine life and fabulous kelp forests.

California secret spots

Rent a Kayak and launch from the South end of the beach. Monastery Beach is not an ideal swimming location; the tides are usually rough. 

Though you can see lifeguards on this beach, the locals call it Mortuary Beach.

Go hiking along the Moss Cove trail, which runs adjacent to Monastery Beach. 

If you have spare time, visit the Monastery, stroll along its beautiful gardens and take in the tranquillity of the church with the stunning Pacific views.

Park along California Highway 1. You can get your pup on a leash.



  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: portable restrooms, trails, dunes
  • Pets: No

One of the best beaches in Monterey and a bird watchers’ paradise is Salinas River State Beach, located on a strip of sand between the old Salinas River and the Pacific Ocean in the heart of Monterey County.

Salinas River State Beach is narrow, but there is a small wider portion of the beach near the Potrero Road entrance. 

The other two entrances are the Northern parking lot on Sandholdt Road, and the Southern entrance is via Monterey Dunes Way.

The best way to get the ultimate experience of Salinas River State Beach is to go hiking on the dunes trail that runs behind the beach and connects all three entrances.

Get a pair of binoculars to spot rare birds like Peregrine Falcons, Ospreys, American Kestrels, California Brown Pelicans, Western Snowy Plovers and land birds like Red-Tailed Hawks and California Towhees.

Try Surfing if you are an expert in it. The waves are treacherous, and swimming is not advisable. Go hiking, horseback riding or fishing. 

The shoreline is ideal for a lovely evening stroll, and you will be rewarded with incredible sunset views.

Explore Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge, located a few miles South of the beach. Check out Salinas River Mouth Natural Preserve and Salinas River Dunes National Preserve, which are a part of the beach.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: two lots with an entry fee of $12
  • Amenities: portable restrooms, trails
  • Pets: On Leash

One of the beautiful and beast beaches in Monterey is Pfeiffer Beach, located in Big Sur.

This beach is a standalone attraction maintained by the USDA forest service. A stopover at Pfeiffer Beach is a must, especially if you are on the Big Sur road trip.

Access to this beach is via the two-mile Sycamore Canyon Road, a narrow, bumpy and curvy trail. In most places, it narrows down to a single lane. 

So try to visit the beach during the early hours of the day. The beach is at a 5-minute walking distance from the parking lot.

Big Sur road trip

Pfeiffer Beach is known for its purple sandy shoreline, craggy rock formations and stunning keyhole rock, the main draw of the beach.

You will find the place pretty crowded during winter due to the extraordinary phenomenon on the beach. 

Photographers from across the globe flock to this beach to capture the sunset views through the keyhole rock.

Like most Monterey California beaches, Pfeiffer Beach isn’t ideal for swimming since the tides are dangerous. 

But you can walk on the shoreline and appreciate the beach’s beautiful caves and rock formations.

Dogs on leashes are allowed but must be on a leash at most 6 feet.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: restrooms, trails, dunes, rentals
  • Pets: No

If you are looking for one of the best beaches in Monterey filled with loads of adrenaline-pumping activites, check out the Marina State Beach, nestled between Monterey and Santa Cruz.

The vast sandy swathes of shoreline make it an ideal location for kite flying and hang-gliding and one of the hotspots for parasailing along the Monterey Coast.

Though swimming isn’t recommended on Marina State Beach, you can always go for a walk or do sunbathing on the well-maintained shoreline.

You might spot Dolphins frolicking in the waves and whales spouting in the ocean. You will enjoy Marina State Beach if you love watching birds. 

san simeon things to do

You will witness varieties of birds like Pelicans, Gulls, Coromants and Vultures.

Check out the Marina Dunes Preserve, a massive 170-acre coastal dune, apparently one of the highest dunes along the central coast known for its fantastic wildlife.

If you are short on time, walk along the short interpretive nature trail that winds through the dunes.

Grab a drink or a snack from the nearby beachfront cafes and restaurants and enjoy the gorgeous sunset views.

You must take Reservation Road, exit off California Highway 1 and drive West to the end of the road to access Marina State Beach. 

Once you reach the parking lot, you must take a small hike to the beach. The parking area is limited, and dogs aren’t allowed.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: restrooms, trails
  • Pets: No

One of the best beaches in Monterey along the 17-mile Drive is Seal Rock Creek Beach, where Seal Rock River tumbles into the Pacific.

The seal rock, the centrepiece of the beach, resembles the shape of a seal and hence the name. The beach is also a popular spot to sight seals and varieties of birds.

If you are a fan of tide pools, Seal Rock Creek Beach uncovers some of the most beautiful tide pools in Monterey, especially during low tides.

Recommended: 30 Beautiful California Tide Pools You Should Visit

Have a picnic lunch towards the South of the beach, where picnic tables and chairs face the beautiful beach.

The parking area is small and gets filled up quickly. Dogs are not allowed.


  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: restrooms, trails, marshes and wetlands
  • Pets: No

One of the remote and best beaches in Monterey is the Zmudowski State Beach, located North of Moss Landing in Monterey County.

This beach is known for its rustic beauty and the vibrant wildlife of the gorgeous Monterey County coastline, apt for Beachcombing.

Go hiking on the rugged and beautiful trails; you will be greeted with towering dunes on one side and stunning Pacific views on the other. You will see vibrant hues of wildflowers in the Spring.

Try Horseback riding on Zmudowski State Beach and relish the incredible views of Monterey Bay. Swimming could be dangerous due to strong rip currents and cold water temperatures.

Beautiful marshes and wetlands like the Pajaro estuary behind the dunes are a local’s favourite spot for fishing and birdwatching. There is a limit to the number of fish you can catch.

Pelicans, terns and avocets are common. Zmudowski State Beach is a nesting ground for the endangered western snowy plover. 

Look at the signages denoting nesting areas so you do not disturb the birds.

Parking is free. You can access Zmudowski State Beach via California Highway 1, and dogs aren’t allowed on the beach and the dunes.



Write A Comment