Point Lobos State Reserve, Monterey
Point Lobos is another wonderful area that protects both land and water. On land you will find many well-marked trails. About half of the protected area is under water. Diving is allowed, but only by permit. First we stopped at Whaler's Cove where we watched a harbor seal swimming in a small cove, and a white heron standing on a patch of kelp. We then visited the Whaler's Cabin, which was built by Chinese fisherman in the 1850s. On the day we visited, we walked a few of the trails, and they were each wonderful in their own way. The first took us up to a knoll for a series of panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the rocky coastline below, then through a naturally growing stand of Monterey cypress trees. We then drove to the Bird Island Cove Trail, which gave us views of Bird Island, which had many cormorants on it, and China Cove where the water almost looked turquoise in color, as well as Gibson Beach. We walked the stairs down to China Cove, where we sat on the small beach for a short time. Unfortunately the stairs to Gibson Beach were closed off. As we walked along this trail we saw seals resting on rocks, and sea otters lying on their backs in the kelp. We then walked the Cypress Grove Trail and Sea Lion Point trail. Again we were treated to dramatic views of the rock coastline and nearby rock islands. We viewed sea lions resting on the rocks of an islet, and observed many blows of whales swimming north along the coast of what looked like a large pod. We could see their black, glistening backs as they sounded, throwing their water spouts high in the air. On one beach we saw at least 19 harbor seals lying on the shore, their fat bodies lying motionless in the sand. We also drove to a pull off where we stopped to explore some tide pools. Here we saw a variety of sea plants, small corals, tiny fish, anemones, fiddler crabs, snails, and sea urchins.
You also have Pacific Grove, right before Monterey that has some lovely walking paths as well Point Lobos State Reserve - http://www.pointlobos.org/
You can see photos in my webpage.
Enjoy the trip.
Just a little south of Carmel is this area of rugged coastline known as Point Lobos. Its favorite of seals, otters and hikers.