Point Lobos is a jewel among the State Parks for the whole family with four accessible wheelchair trails.
The park opens throughout the year at 8 a.m. but closes before sunset to protect the wildlife and to avoid disturbance (like deer, foxes, bobcats, and owls). Camping is not permitted. Clearer skies, warmest average temps and the best moths without fog are September and October followed by April and May during the harbor seal pupping season.
Crowds in Summer
This magnificent and popular State Reserve is located close to Carmel on HW 1. Point Lobos is a year-round destination and super busy during summer and especially at weekends. Limited parking within the reserve; 150 cars only. At weekends and especially Sundays during summer it’s advisable to arrive before 9 a.m. or later in the afternoon. Otherwise, you have to line up or park your car outside on the shoulder and walk in.
If possible visit the reserve mid-week. However, Point Lobos is also much loved by school classes due to the many opportunities to experience and learn about nature and wildlife. The foundation supports schools with transportation and offers adventure programmes for 8 to 12 years old youth in summer which fills up soon.
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate. The average temperature ranges from about 55 to 65°F / 13-18 °C year-round. Spring is sunny and cool before the foggy summer season starts with fog until the afternoon. Fog banks emerge from the cold water (around 50 °F / 10°C) and the warm coastal air to condense into fog. Fall (September to November) is the sunniest time of the year although evenings are more chilly. During the winter mist and showers occur between November to March.
Harbor Seal Pupping Season
From March until June you may spot harbor seals giving birth to a puppy at China Cove. It’s amazing that the new-borns start to swim just 20 minutes later. The best months to witness this spectacle are April and May.
Southern Sea Otters
They may be spotted offshore in the kelp beds during calm days. On windy days they are more often found in protected coves. They are living in waters with a temp between 35°F and 60°F / 1,5°C up to 15,5°C. This is important for their constant body temp of almost 100 °F / 37°C. They mate and give birth in the sea throughout the year with a peak of pupping from January to March, fewer from August to October.
They can be spotted throughout the year. Perfect spots to observe whales are South Point and Sea Lion Point.
Grey whales are most commonly seen from late December to January and again from March until early May.
Humpbacks are frequently seen from March until December.
- Minke whales are sometimes spotted from January until April. They migrate in larger numbers but due to their smaller seize often missed.
- Blue whales are sometimes spotted in summer.
Orcas; three different species of orcas can be found. The transient orcas feed on mammals, therefore, frequently seen when gray whales migrate with their calves their preferred prey. They can also be spotted at other times of the year hunting seals, porpoise, and dolphins. The resident orcas feed on fish especially salmon and always stay in the same area. Nowadays resident orcas from Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca can be found around Monterey. The offshore orcas are mostly seen during winter feeding on squid, fish and even sharks.
The sea lion population is much smaller in late spring and summer due to migration to the south for mating.
Spring and summer is the nesting season. The bird island trail is great to spot lots of birds in the morning or late afternoon. Two cormorant species can be found year-round; nesting on rocks offshore from March to August. We spotted several birds like the scrub jay and dark-eyed junco.
The wildflower season in spring; California Poppies, Douglas Iris, lilac Ceanothus and many more
A permit is required, and reservations can be made up two months in advance. 15 diving teams always two divers are allowed to dive at Whalers Cove and Bluefish Cove each day. Some caves are accessible in calm seas. Diving map of Point Lobos State Reserve
Where to Stay (bookmark the links)
Unfortunately, there isn't any campground or accommodation offered inside the reserve. The best-located hotel is the Hyatt Carmel Highlands with spectacular views. Nearby is the popular town of Carmel with a vast variety of hotels and lodges. An alternative and half an hour drive is Salinas. We'd chosen the Super 8 Salinas where breakfast is included.
Spotting the orca rubbing behavior or seeing whales offshore is a memorable experience. You could see humpback whales swimming close to the shoreline and listen to breathing orcas enjoying the pebb
The Orcas usually approach the bay to rub against the pebbled beach in shallow water close to the shoreline, in as little as 1.8 m (6 feet) of water. It can be very close to the beach during high tide. The sea should be smooth and avoid windy days. The chance to spot them increase if you overnight at the campground at Bere Point Regional Park and select an ocean view site. The campground is serviced during summer only.
In the evening we spotted Humpback Whales and in the morning Orcas which were rubbing on the pebbles.
Weather and Season Details
The precipitation of Vancouver Island's east coast is just 700-800 mm per year. In contrast, the west coast of the island is exposed to moisture-packed winds blowing from the Pacific Ocean and receives plenty of precipitation from October to March. Summers are in general relatively dry.
Spring is always a great time to visit Vancouver Island. Daily temperatures range from 11-15 ºC. It's a great time for wildlife viewing. The Pacify grey whales are on their route to Alaska, Grizzly and black bears finish their hibernation a looking for food along the shoreline.
From June through September, Vancouver Island is typically sunny and mild although the temperature at Malcolm Island seldom goes beyond 15-17°C but can reach up to 25°C.
In fall you may see a lot of fog especially in the morning which could last until mid-day or afternoon. The temperature is on average around 12°C.
Vancouver Island enjoys a moderate and mild winter in most regions. This allows outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking in the south-coastal areas even in January.
The beach is absolutely stunning, full of driftwood and a huge playground for kids. Most of the visitors are close to the entrance.
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 snorkel trips are offered from Khao Lak, and you get a pick up at the hotel.
Tours are offered from October until May. Very best time for snorkeling around Surin islands from late January until the end of February due to a very calm sea at this time of the year. The sea can be rough, and seasickness can be an issue. On the other hand, this time of the year is the busiest. Continue reading to figure out your best time for the Surin Islands and our top spot for diving.
Shoulder Season – Less Crowded
October, November and April, May except Easter
October is sometimes still too rainy and trips are canceled. May is hot but usually still nice.
December until March. Prices are at the highest level. Surin is not offered daily and should be booked a few days in advance. Similan Islands and Surin Islands are very popular for snorkeling. We got told that the reefs around Surin are more beautiful and Similan beaches are overrun. The trips are pricey therefore think twice where to go and when.
Tip for Divers
Divers should book a liveaboard trip for a couple of days. One outstanding dive spot is Richelieu Rock. Follow the link for detailed information and pictures.
It’s a marvelous spot for a day trip just a 2 ½ hours drive from Launceston and 1 hour from St. Helens. The Eddystone Point and Lighthouse is situated in the Mount William National Park.
Try to come here on a sunny day, not completely overcast to enjoy the picturesque fiery granite rocks at the clear blue sea. Best sunlight for these mesmerizing rocks is around midday. More rocks are accessible at low tide: Tide times Bay of Fires
From November to March pleasant temperatures mostly above 20°C. In the winter, most days with single-digit temps. Most precipitation roughly every second day occurs during the winter, although the highest amount of rain happens in November. The driest months are January to March. Even in the summer, the wind can be chilly. Anyhow, that's Tassie be always prepared for rain.
Due to the remote location and the gravel road, it’s not very busy. It only gets a bit busy during the Australian school holidays around the boat ramp.
The Eddystone Lighthouse was established in 1889 and is in total 42 meters high. The Aboriginal people are the owners of this land. Their indigenous name is Larapuna.
Most visitors come here in a rush. We spend half a day at Eddystone Point, and we also had a look at the Policemen Point. You can find an hour drive to the south in Saint Helens a variety of affordable and lovely accommodations. Stay here for a couple of days. Make a day trip to the Blue Tier Forest Reserve and the biggest tree of Australia; the Blue Tier Giant.
A short trail leads through the Evercreech Rainforest to the world's tallest white gums. Another beautiful walk leads the Halls Falls close to Pyengana. Excellent for a coffee or even lunch break is the Pyengana Cheese Factory. We combined the Bay of Fires with the Blue Tier Forest Reserve and the Evercreech Rainforest. We loved our three nights stay at the Pelican Point Sanctuary in a self-contained cottage.
The famous National Park was established in 1942. It’s a subtropical paradise of white golden beaches, turquoise blue crystal-clear sea and a lush coastal native bush with huge fern trees.
Abel Tasman is one of the most popular National Parks in New Zealand. Peak season from mid-December to March (Easter). Often several hundred day-trippers visit the park for a hike between Awaroa and Marahau. The crowds thin out after Awaroa. Best months for a visit with pleasant weather and fewer hikers are November, March, and April. Continue reading to get all the needed information for each season.
For the Coast Track of 3-5 days booking for the 4 huts and 19 campsites is essential for the entire year. For summer booking far in advance is recommended. Availability and booking
Split Apple Rock
Tide times must get as much consideration as the weather forecast for the coastal track and also for day hikes:
- Crossing the stream at Onetahuti beach is only possible around low tide.
- Awaroa inlet can be crossed only within 1 ½ hour before and 2 h after low tide.
- You can walk along the beach at Torrent Bay at low tide. At high tide, it’s a long way around along Cleopatra's pool which takes an additional hour.
A pick up at Torrent Bay is not any longer offered. Limited drop off between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. exceptions for overnight guests and residents. Next opportunity is Anchorage and Bark Bay.
Water Taxis at Kaiteriteri
Tip: Even for a day trip book your water taxi in advance during the peak season in summer.
Weather and Crowds
It’s one of the sunniest spots in NZ with over 2.200 hours of sunshine annually.
- Spring (Sept.-Nov.): Nature awakes, and the temps are perfect for hiking with temps below 20°Cs on average. Nights are pretty chilly. It’s the shoulder season and less crowded.
- Summer (Dec.-Feb.): It’s the best time of the year for hiking and swimming with less precipitation. From mid-December on the park gets utterly crowded with visitors from around the world, as well as from AUS and NZ in their school holidays. Day temps are above 20°C and nights are pleasant. January is the warmest month.
- Autumn (March-May): Still pleasant temps and crowds thin out. Not a high amount of precipitation on average 8 days a month. Temps are perfect for hiking. March and April are still very sunny. Nights temps in May are often below 10°C.
Winter (June-Aug.): Day temps are around 14°C while there are one digit temps in the night. Camping is pretty cold. The coldest month is July with a night temp on average around 6°C. Most rainfall occurs in June. It’s the perfect time for photographers without crowds on the beaches and the turquoise crystal clear sea looks breathtaking at this time of the year. Viewer people visit the park.
Where to Stay in Kaiteriteri - Abel Tasman National Park
There are plenty of accommodations in Motueka but not many in Kaiteriteri. To get one of the early morning water taxis we recommend staying in walking distance to the beach and the shuttle service. Torlesse Motels are just a 10 minutes walk where the boats depart. The staff is lovely, and the view from here is spectacular. Book a studio and prepare your picnic for hiking in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Don't miss the famous Wharariki Beach which is most picturesque at sunset. You may know it from the Windows 10 Wallpaper.
Wharariki Beach north of Abel Tasman