First and foremost beaches are associated with swimming and sunbathing. Quite a few of them are scenic or outstanding at a special time. Share your favorite beach which you already experienced.
The State Park is popular for the 2 miles long beach but not crowded due to a one-mile walk to get there. The gate is open from sunrise until half an hour after sunset.
The entire 2 miles beach is only accessible at low tide. Watch the tide and don’t get trapped between rocky outcrops.
The summer is the foggiest season. Clearer skies and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May.
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inch / 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.
The gray whales migrate from Alaska to Baja California and can be spotted during mid- December and February. And again on their northward migration with their new born calves from February to May.
The spectacular coastline, the beach, and hikes are worth for several stops year-round. The summer is the foggiest season. Clearer skies and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May. The beautiful scenery of Garrapata with very view visitors was a marvelous highlight for us in California.
Spring (special season):
An amazing time when colorful wildflower carpets cover most of the coastal area.
If visiting the beach, the best time is low tide. At high tide, parts may be inaccessible especially during strong surf. Tide times for Garrapata Beach
The Garrapata State Park is utterly overlooked therefore not busy like all the other State Parks. It's such a breathtaking coastal scenery with awesome walking tracks that you shouldn't miss. Plan at least half a day and make several stops. You won't regret it.
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches / 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
Where to Stay (bookmark the link)
Most people experience the Garrapata State Park by accident along the HWY 1 although it's worth to stay here for the entire day. It's one of the most beautiful parks along Highway 1. What we loved most; we were most of the time alone on the hiking trail. Very difficult to get such a benefit during August where all other parks are overrun. You always get a parking space even in the busy month of August. If your schedule allows staying at least a night here. The best situated hotel with spectacular views is the Resort Hyatt Carmel Highlands.
Popular small beach frequently with lifeguard during the day in summer. Less busy and even more beautiful in the evening at sunset and low tide. Tide pooling during the day is much fun for the younger ones at low tide. The Natural Bridges State Beach is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. The visitor center is open from 10 am until 4 pm. The State Beach vehicle fee is 10 $ a day.
There is limited parking in front of the State Beach allowed for 20 minutes only. Plenty of parking lots close to the visitor center, shoulder parking direction the entrance kiosk, and outside the State Beach. Anyhow, on weekends in summer it gets quite busy.
Walking through the bridge is possible at spring tide only a couple of times a year. It occurs in spring and fall when the full or new moon is closest to the earth. Tide times Natural Bridges
- On the second Sunday in October the monarch butterfly is welcomed from 11 am until 4 pm. It's an amazing festival for the whole family.
- The second Saturday in February is dedicated to the whale migration.
The park is a temporary home for thousands of Monarch Butterflies during the winter. They migrate from the cold Rockie Mountain Valleys. The mild climate and the eucalyptus trees provide a safe place for them. They feed on the nectar of the milkweed. The butterflies arrive around mid-October and stay until late January to mid- February. Guided Monarch Butterfly Tours are offered in fall and winter at 11 am and 2 pm.
During spring wildflowers are in bloom.
Weather and Water Temperature
During the summer from June to August, it's dry, and drought occurs. The average day temp is 17°C / 62°F, but 30°C / 86°F can happen as well. Water temp in summer around 16°C / 61°F only. Most precipitation in winter from December to February with its peak in February. Average day temps are around 10°C / 50°F.
Natural Bridges Park Map and Brochure including wheelchair accessibility
The trips are offered from March to October; at the peak season in summer up to 4 times and in the shoulder season twice each day.
The morning tours are slightly quieter, and it’s less hot in summer. We preferred the afternoon trip to get the best light for taking pictures. Usually, the sea is calmer in the morning and a bit rough in the afternoon.
Some providers offer sunrise and sunset trips in summer.
Less busy during the shoulder season. The sea is still a bit cold in May and June, September is great.
Despite the weather, it‘s a breathtaking beach where you walk between huge rock stacks for almost two kilometers at low tide. At high tide, the sea covers the entire beach up to the steps. The tidal range can be up to 7 meters during the big spring tides. The tides are coming in pretty fast. You need to enter a gate to get to the 120 steps down to the beach.
From November to February the gate is closed due to severe weather and surf and also during periods of bad weather. This spectacular beach is best visited up to two hours before low tide to maximise your time here. Plan at least 3-4 hours for a visit. Tide Times Bedruthan Steps
Often only the main car park is open. At low tide and around midday cars are queuing for space. If you arrive one or two hours before low tide, you increase your chance for a parking lot. The Café is popular for jacket potatoes, cream tea, and homemade scones; the reason that it gets busy at midday especially at weekends.
The coast experiences a mild climate throughout the year. The average temps in the summer are around 20°C, but 30°C are possible in July and August. Autumn is slightly colder on average 13°C to 18°C. The spring temps are around 11°C to 15°C. Due to drizzle, fog, and wind which occurs throughout the year, it may feel pretty chilly. Usually, the driest months are April, May, and August. The water temp is quite cold even in the summer maximum of 17°C.
Stay nearby in Padstow for a couple of days to visit Bedruthan, Tintagel Castle, Lanhydrock House. Bodmin Moor to mention a view of the many highlights.
Our favorite hike is the coastal path from Carnewas at Bedruthan to Padstow. The rugged scenery is just mind-blowing. We highly recommend staying in the luxury Padstow Townhouse B&B. The only issue you may have afterward is that you don't want to leave this awesome house and this high-level service. Another option for low budget travelers is the Hostel YHA Treyarnon Bay north of Bedruthan Steps.
Bolonia Beach and the shifting dune are worth a visit despite the season.
It’s a popular beach with Spanish tourists in summer and day trippers on Sundays. During the rest of the year and at weekdays it’s less busy. Morning and evening only a few people are on the beach and dune even in summer.
At midday, the sunlight is perfect for a good shot of the shifting dune. The golden hour in the afternoon/evening is also a good option for brilliant pics. Sunsets are awesome, but some of the car parks close at 9 p.m.