Top 20 Monterey attractions

Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park includes 2-miles of California’s most incredible coastline.   

Garrapata State Park is located 15 minutes south of Carmel along Highway 1, at the northern end of the Big Sur.

If you’re driving too fast, blink and you’ll miss it!  The only parking is on dirt pull-outs along the side of the highway. 

There are no amenities at Garrapata State Park, and the gates are not well signed and almost impossible to see.  Here's a useful map with all the gates marked.

This former ranch land is so spectacular, it's worth the extra effort to find it. 

5 best things to do at Garrapata State Park

1. Walk down the stairs to stunning Garrapata Beach. 

Garrapata Beach is approximately 11-miles south of Carmel. The wooden staircase down to the beach, is 500 feet north of Garrapata Creek Bridge at Gate 19.

This beach is pure magic, with white sands and turquoise waters against the backdrop of the vivid coastal scrub.

Soberanos Point is visible in the distance, and juts out into the Pacific Ocean.

In springtime and summer the slopes are carpeted in wildflowers.

Heed the warning signs about the dangers of swimming and wading at the beach.  

This pristine beach never gets that crowded.  You might even have it all to yourself.

Discover unusual rock formations.

2.  Explore trails above Garrapata Beach. 

The trail snakes northwards along the bluff-top, providing elevated views of the beach, off-shore rocks and the headland, from chaparral covered slopes.

3. Stop at the gorgeous Soberanes Point headland (gates 8, 9 or 10). 

Soberanes Point is roughly 2.6 miles north of Garrapata Beach on Highway 1. The Soberanos Point Trail loops around the headland, and can be accessed from gates 8, 9 or 10. Soberanes Point is rugged with sheer cliffs, making it unsuitable for children.

4. Go to magnificent Notley's Landing Viewpoint, south of Garrapata State Park, then dine at Rocky Point Restaurant. 

Notley's Landing Viewpoint is 700 feet south of the Rocky Point Restaurant, on Highway 1. On a clear day you can get a great photo of historic Rocky Creek Bridge, and the sweeping panorama of the Big Sur coastline. See cattle grazing in the distance.  The land south of Garrapata State Park is still active ranch land.

Combine a visit to the Notley's Landing Viewpoint, with a meal at the cliffside Rocky Point Restaurant. The ocean views from the indoor dining room or patio are incredible!

5. Savor the views at Little Sur River Beach Overlook, also south of Garrapata State Park. 

The Little Sur River Beach is roughly 19 miles south of Carmel, and is privately owned, but you can see it from the highway.

See the mouth of the Little Sur River as it empties into the Pacific Ocean, in the final stretch of a long journey from its headwaters in Pico Blanco in the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Brightly colored succulents line the slopes, contrasted with the white-flecked, turquoise ocean.

Morning fog rolls off the mountains.

The Little Sur River beach is privately owned by El Sur Ranch, with barbed wire fences keeping visitors from trespassing.  El Sur Ranch has been a cattle ranch since 1834.

Know before you go 

  • Location: South of Carmel, along Hwy 1.
  • Map: check here.
  • Parking: dirt pull-outs along the highway.
  • Signage: poor.
  • Restrooms: no.
  • Swimming or wading: no, the ocean is too dangerous.
  • Camping: no.
  • Dogs: no.

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