I recently took a solo paddle around Point Lobos State Park. It was a beautiful windless day with a 2-3 foot swell. I launched from the south end of Monastery Beach, just north of the entrance to the park. The beach is rather steep making launches and landings relatively quick. Paddling in the area can range from easy to extreme based on the height of the swell and fetch.
Once launched I hugged the coast to the south of the beach entering sheltered bays filled with kelp, seabirds, otter, and seals. As I paddled toward the point I floated over dozens of moon jellies. I offered to tow a couple of divers in a Zodiak who were having trouble starting their engines. (I couldn't help myself)
As I approached the Point the water became very squirrely, undulating in disconcerting ways. Off of the Point the waves refract in such a way that the water is often very uneven. On a steeper day I would have turned back and explored the aforementioned bays some more.
I took a wide berth of the Point as there are quite a few 'boomers' lurking just under the surface of the water. Given a steep set of swells these rocks can just appear on the surface of the water to test a paddlers bracing skills and scratch up the bottom of a boat.
Once past the point I made my way for China Cove on the south side of the park and watched some otters feed for awhile. Just outside of this beautiful cove there are six or seven 50 foot high rock stacks. There are water paths between the stacks that are just wide enough to paddle a boat. It is a great place to explore.
On the return trip I knew that the tide was coming in and was able to hug the coast around the point. The landing back at the beach was uneventful. It again can be quite an adventure given steep fast swell.
A couple of important points. It is illegal to land anywhere on Point Lobos. Also, there is a marine mammal protection act in place. It is recommended that paddlers stay 50 feet away from wildlife. Also if an animals behavior changes because of your presence it is a good idea to give the animal more room. Finally, the conditions around the point can change quickly. Be very cautious, file a float plan, carry essential safety gear, and get a good sea and weather report before embarking.
Monastery Beach is four miles south of Carmel on Highway 1. It is about .5 miles north of the entrance to Point Lobos State Park.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking
- Skill Level: Advanced
- Water Type: Open Water/Ocean