A Traveler’s Guide to the Best Beaches in Carmel

Carmel-By-The-Sea

Carmel is a small seaside city located along the coast of California. There are many things to see and do during your visit that will suit all tastes. As it is a coastal location, one of the most popular activities amongst those who visit Carmel is to spend time at the beach. You will find several beaches along Carmel’s coast, each of which has something different to offer. Extending beyond the fringes of Carmel, there are more beaches to visit if you are willing to walk or drive a little further along the Californian coastline. Here is a traveler’s guide to beaches in Carmel, CA.

Carmel City Beach

The most popular beach in Carmel for tourists and locals alike is Carmel City Beach. According to Carmel California, the beach is rated as one of the most iconic spots on California’s Central Coast. It is a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach with rocky bluffs and Monterey pines. Although people enjoy swimming and surfing at the beach, visitors are warned that there is no lifeguard service at the beach. Running alongside the beach is a scenic path for walking, jogging, and cycling. It is also worth noting that this is a dog-friendly beach.

Carmel River State Beach

Carmel River State Beach is located just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is a large sandy beach by a lagoon that constantly changes shape. It is known as the Carmel River Lagoon and Wetlands Natural Preserve. The land by the beach is predominantly wetlands. Carmel River State Beach is a popular walking spot and is also visited by divers and surfers. It is also a great place to visit if you enjoy birds and other wildlife, as there are multiple species living in the preserve.

Ghost Tree

Ghost Tree is one of the most popular spots for surfers near Carmel, says Surfline. It has just the right surf for enjoying surfing and a range of other water-based activities. It is by the 18th hole of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, and it is surrounded by rocky outlets, against which the waves break. It was given its name because of a spooky tree that is associated with various local legends.

Carmel Meadows Beach

Carmel Meadows Beach is often thought of as a beach in its own right, but it is actually part of Carmel River State Beach. This sandy west-facing beach sits by the Carmel Meadows housing community. It is one of Carmel’s less crowded beaches, so it is a nice place to visit if you want to enjoy a peaceful atmosphere. There is a trail leading from the beach in both directions, so it is a good starting point for exploring the local area.

Garrapata Beach, Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park is in Big Sur, approximately 10 miles along the coast from Carmel. It is home to several great beaches, and Garrapata Beach is one of the best. It is the only one of the beaches that is a true sandy beach. There are several dirt tracks that lead to the beach, although the easiest and safest is the one that takes you over the Garrapata Creek bridge.

Soberanes Point Beach, Garrapata State Park

Another good beach to visit in Garrapata State Park is Soberanes Point Beach, says California Beaches. Garrapata State Park includes four miles of coastline, and Soberanbes Point Beach sits in a central position. Although there are a few small sandy sections on the beach at the bottom of the cliff, the beach consists mainly of rocky bluffs. Therefore, it is more popular with people who want a scenic coastal walk than those who want to relax, sunbathe, or build sandcastles.

Little Sur River Beach

You will find Little Sur River Beach along the coast between Carmel and Big Sur. It sits by the mouth of the river, where lagoon pools have formed. The setting is picturesque, as the beach is against a backdrop of mountains. Some sections of the beach are privately owned, so they are inaccessible. However, you can get some fantastic photographs of the scenery and wildlife from the sections of the beach that are open to the public and from the trail next to the beach.,

Hidden Beach, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Despite the name, Hidden Beach in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is not hidden at all. Furthermore, it is an easy section of the beach to find. Go to the end of the park road to the main parking lot, then take the South Shore Trail. After only a short distance, you will see some steps, and these lead down to the pebble-filled beach. It is a narrow, rock-lined cove that is usually quiet. If you continue along the South Shore Trail, you will eventually reach Gibson Beach.

China Cove, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

If you are visiting Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and you have already seen Hidden Beach, then you should also see China Cove, which is only a short distance along the coast. There is a magical feel in this cliff-lined cove, as the waters are multiple shades of blue, green, and turquoise that looks almost unreal. You can also see an array of wildlife in the cove, including sea lions and multiple species of birds.

Monastery Beach

Monastery Beach is so-called because it is by the Carmelite Monastery Mission. It is a fantastic starting point if you want to explore the local coastline, as there are many trails leading from this beach. It is a popular spot with dog walkers due to the different routes you can take from the beach. According to California Best Beaches, it is a third-of-a-mile long beach that is also known as San Jose Creek Beach. Visiting this beach comes with a word of warning, as the tides are very strong, so it is not a good place for paddling, swimming, or surfing.


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