Point Lobos

Eco Guide to California
Central Coast

Mercifully spared the developer’s bulldozer early in the last century, Point Lobos has been preserved as a California State Reserve.

Its rare beauty and unique biology has made it a symbol of California Parks and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

It may seem peaceful now, but Point Lobos has a raucous history.

Point Lobos is the product of complex geology. Blocks of earth from three miles deep, and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains and some Pacific islands off southern Mexico collided here.

The sparkling granite cliffs that came from deep beneath the sea, emerged as molten lava and cooled very slowly. Here it cleanses the sea. A great progression of change is evident in the meadows and coves throughout Point Lobos.

Titillating geologic scenes look like Chinese watercolors.

The flora is delicate and overpowering at once. As exciting as the physical tableau may be, the way it intermingles with the sea, in interminably mysterious and inviting ways, is the start of the real story of Point Lobos.

Other Pelican pages to see about Point Lobos 

Notes about the creations of the State Preserve

Hiking Trails

“A Powerful Psychic Place”

Getting to Point Lobos

Photo of China Cove South Rim


Of the reserve’s 1250 acres, about 60 per cent are underwater. Much of it is both, constituting a large tidal pool system.

 John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts (“Doc” from Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday) were great practitioners of tide pool collection here. The discipline and theories they developed here mark their great scientific works that still stand today as the best in their field: Sea of Cortez and Between Pacific Tides.

Giant kelp beds, available up close here, inspire wonder of the sea. Spectacular scuba diving, endless gazing, and bird watching are favorite pastimes here.

Photo by Leora Worthington

Sea Otters lay on their backs and roll in the tide swell. Wrapped in strands of kelp to keep them from sinking while they nap, or cracking open abalone, these critters are a source of amused joy.

“Lobos” means wolves in Spanish, and the Sea Lion bark is loud. It can be heard up and down the Big Sur coast. Also, The Sea Lion is named wolf because they hunt in packs.

Steller and California Sea Lion pups lounge on the beaches of Point Lobos waiting for mom to return from her fishing. Spaniards named this peninsula for the bark of these precocious animals.

200 Year Old Cypress trees prosper here as only in a very few places on earth. Pine forests march right down to the sea.

Steinbeck’s affinity with Point Lobos was lifelong. In his childhood, and in his development years as as author, he made this peninsula a vital part of his conscience.

Robert Louis Stevenson hiked here while waiting for Fanny Osbourne to get a divorce. Local lore claims Point Lobos inspired Spyglass Hill in Treasure Island. Mary Austin, Lincoln Steffens, Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, Robinson Jeffers sauntered around the peninsula.

Notes About Creating the Reserve

Driving to Point Lobos
Point Lobos Hikes
“Powerful Psychic Place”

Accommodations for Point Lobos? Look at
Big Sur Lodge

Popular Pfeiffer Beach (left) is fabled, fantastic and fun.

Reserve a Big Sur Lodge cottage at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park online with Pelican Network.

Go to Big Sur Lodge

Guests receive the Pelican Network Guide to Big Sur

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