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Beach

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 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.

Garrapata Wildflowers

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

Garrapata Beach at Low Tide

Tourist Crowds

The Garrapata State Park is overlooked therefore less busy than other parks. 

Weather

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.

Garrapata in Fog

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 one or two days. It's one of the most beautiful parks along Highway 1. The benefit; this park is not crowded. The best-located hotel with spectacular views is the Resort Hyatt Carmel Highlands.

US United States

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.

Parking

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.

Short Term Parking at Natural Bridges State Park and Beach

Highlights

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

Events

  • 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. 
Winter

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.

Spring

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

US United States

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.

Avoiding Crowds

Less busy during the shoulder season. The sea is still a bit cold in May and June, September is great.

PT Portugal

Despite the weather, it‘s a breathtaking beach to walk between huge rocks 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 at the big spring tides. 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. This spectacular beach is best visited up to two hours before low tide. Plan 3-4 hours for a visit. Tide Times Bedruthan Steps

Bedruthan Steps in Fog

Crowds

Often the main car park is open only. At low tide and around midday cars are queuing for space. If you arrive one or two hours before low tide, you may get a parking lot directly. The Café is popular for jacket potatoes, cream tea, and homemade scones. The reason that it gets busy at midday.

Climate

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 occur year-round, 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 17°C.

Tip

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.

Bodmin Moor

We recommend staying in the luxury Padstow Townhouse B&B. Another option for low budget travelers is the Hostel YHA Treyarnon Bay north of Bedruthan Steps.

GB United Kingdom

Bolonia Beach and the shifting dune are worth a visit despite the season.

Crowds

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.

ES Spain

Crowds:
This marvelous beach is still a hidden gem and mostly the Spanish visit it. Due to the limited parking and accessibility, it can’t get crowded.

Between high- and low tide you can swim in the lagoon. At high tide, the beach is small, and at low tide, the lagoon disappears.

ES Spain