- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos marks the north end of the Big Sur coast, as south of here, once past the small town of Carmel Highlands, the next 90 miles have no towns, just countless cliffs, coves and beaches, linked by California Highway 1. The point is small, just a mile long and a mile wide, but contains an extraordinary variety of scenic features, plants, birds and marine animals. The shoreline is formed by a mixture of sandy or pebble beaches, rocky coves, small islands and sheer cliffs, while inland are several bushy knolls, patches of pine/oak woodland, flower-filled meadows and grasslands. Varied plant communities include coastal scrub, coastal prairie, cypress forest and pine forest. The land is inhabited by up to a dozen types of mammal, many bird species, and (in season) abundant monarch butterflies, some of the islands are home to thousands of pelicans, gulls and cormorants, while other rocks provide a resting place for sea lions. Gray whales pass by in late winter and the underwater world harbors a rich variety of plants and fish. Point Lobos is a major diving destination and popular for many other types of recreation - photography, landscape painting, jogging, sunbathing, swimming, picnicking, wildlife-watching and hiking. The only activity not possible is camping, as the reserve is too small and delicate to have a campsite; for this there are paid sites along Carmel Valley or further south along the coast, and free sites in the mountains of the Los Padre National Forest to the east. It was landscape artist Francis McComas (1875-1938) who described Point Lobos as 'The Greatest Meeting of Land and Water in the World', a description that many of the today's visitors would agree with.