Paddling Point Lobos, California


Point Lobos, California is an incredible ocean sanctuary located just south of Carmel and the famous Pebble Beach.

Situated in a popular nature reserve, the area of Point Lobos can be easily enjoyed by foot or car all year round but exploring it’s beauty by SUP is a unique adventure that only a few get to experience.

There are so many different experiences you can have while paddling here. From hidden coves that can’t be accessed by land to watching the local seals and pelicans sunning themselves on the nearby rocks – and as a paddler you’ll often you have the water to yourself.

We set off from Monastery Beach at the northern tip of Point Lobos and paddled our way around the peninsula to China Beach. Here we laid down on our boards and watched as the seals slowly build up their curiosity, swimming over, popping up right next to our boards!


If you fancy getting away from the coastline it is worth heading out to sea and paddle around the point. The water can get quite choppy so make sure you are confident paddler. It is important to study the tides, swells and wind to make a safe outing here – this is not an area to go blindly and without planning.

The real reward though is China Cove. Here you can paddle through rocks and look down at the clear blue water and soak up the sea life around you. Paddling just south of the main car park you can admire the coastal mansion houses that line the cliffs.

Route Directions

  1. I captured our paddle on Garmin - 8.22 miles 4 hours 26 minutes with lots of stops along the way.
  2. Start at Monastery Beach and paddle around to Whalers Cove, then into Bluefish Cove to visit the Seals.
  3. From here paddle on to Big Dome Cove and Cypress Cove.
  4. If you are an experienced paddler, take the long paddle out around the point of Pinnacle cove, past Headland Cove and over to Sea Lion Cove and Sand Hill Cove.
  5. Paddle over to Hidden Beach and China Cove where you get to paddle through archways with crystal clear water and kelp.
  6. Return via the same route with a couple rests and some lunch.

Local Knowledge

  • Sat Nav


  • Nearest Parking

    Monastery Beach or Whalers Cove in Point Lobos

    Permits: If you enter from Monastery Beach there is no fee or permit. If you enter via Whalers Cove, there is a $10 fee per SUP. The Reserve extends off the coast to include the underwater world of the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve which can only be explored if Paddling or Diving.

  • Launch Point

    Monastery Beach or Whalers Cove in Point Lobos

  • Places to Stay

    Post Ranch Inn or Hyatt Carmel Highlands

  • Places to Eat / Drink

    La Balena

Things to Know

  • Take into account the seasons and conditions when paddling here. We explored at the end of September with low tides and swells but the wind picked up making it harder going on the return leg
  • This is one of the richest marine habitats in California. Its animals and plants are fully protected by state law from any disturbance, and you are prohibited to get within 50ft of the marine mammals.
  • It is important to study the tides, swells and wind before paddling here. Plan ahead.

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