Best Beaches in & Around Carmel-by-the-Sea

Map featuring Carmel-by-the-Sea beaches. Click on pins to view beach details
  • Santa Cruz Main Beach

    Santa Cruz Main Beach
    David Merrett

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 1 hr

    Santa Cruz Main Beach is also known as Boardwalk Beach because it sits in front of the boardwalk amusement park. Dating from 1907, it contains the historic Big Dipper rollercoaster, a swimming pool, mini golf, and restaurants among its attractions.

    On the opposite side of the municipal wharf from Cowell Beach, Main Beach faces south and stretches on to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Despite its size, Main Beach… read more »

  • Capitola Beach

    Capitola Beach
    Dale Cruse

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 1 hr

    Often voted one of the top ten beaches on the US West Coast, this beach of fine sand lies at the northern end of Monterey Bay. It sits in front of the almost-neon homes of the village of Capitola, where you can also find a good choice of restaurants and shops. Very popular on sunny summer days when lifeguards are on duty, Capitola Beach is a south facing beach… read more »

  • McWay Falls Cove

    McWay Falls Cove
    © Pexels

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 1 hr

    Set in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park this beautiful little horseshoe shaped cove is surrounded by high, tree-lined cliffs. Perhaps the beach's most notable feature though is McWay Falls, a waterfall that vertically plunges 80 feet directly into the aqua-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. The cove here is one of the undisputed highlights of Big Sur and only a short trip from California's legendary coastal highway, Route 1.read more »

  • Pfeiffer Beach

    Pfeiffer Beach
    Robert Brett

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 1 hr

    Pfeiffer Beach is in the Big Sur area of California. Roughly a mile long, it is located down a twisting and unmarked two-mile paved road that is unsuitable for RVs and trailers as it has only five points at which vehicles are able to pass one another in opposite directions.

    However, this beach more than makes up for the slight difficulty in getting there in sheer beauty. Its main attraction is… read more »

  • Natural Bridges State Beach

    Natural Bridges State Beach
    David Merrett

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 1 hr

    Located at the end of West Cliff Drive, this sand beach is protected by its status as a 26-hectare California state park and marine reserve. Relatively sheltered, it is named after the natural archways that have formed over time in the rocks, of which only one now remains.

    Its marine reserve status means there's a possibility of observing seals and California's famed sea otters, while tidal pools provide a way of… read more »

  • Seabright Beach

    Seabright Beach
    Mike Fernwood

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 1 hr

    Situated just along the coast from Main Beach and the boardwalk, Seabright Beach runs from the mouth of the San Lorenzo River to the entrance of Santa Cruz Harbour. The beach is accessed via the western end of East Cliff Drive, near the Museum of Natural History, and where there is free parking.

    Seabright Beach is a wide stretch of richly-coloured sands that continue on for around 800 metres, with… read more »

  • Carmel Beach

    Carmel Beach
    © Blake Carroll

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 0.5 hrs

    Located in the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, in central California's Monterey County, Carmel Beach is formed of a stunning arc of pale sand that runs for close to a mile in length. Edged by vegetation to one side and clear Pacific waters to the other, it looks almost tropical in appearance.

    Despite slightly chilly water temperatures, which top out at around 61°F/16°C, Carmel Beach is a popular surfing spot. It is also… read more »

  • Fan Shell Beach

    Fan Shell Beach
    Clotee Pridgen Allochuku

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 0.5 hrs

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  • Gibson Beach

    Gibson Beach
    Eric Chan

    Travel time from Carmel-by-the-Sea: approx 0.5 hrs

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