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.
- Sea Lions
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.
The name originates from three bridges in the early 1900s. The inner and outer arch are collapsed and only the middle one remained which is an Arch Rock now.
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
Rathlin Island lays at the top of Northern Ireland, in the Atlantic Ocean at the entrance of the Irish Sea. It's a Special Area of Conservation and has a lot of seabirds living on its cliffs.
Diving is possible all year round, but the best periode is the end of summer until the middle of oktober.
It is difficult to get there. The closest islands are Canna and Rum but you need either a boat or a tour operator.
To visit the island good weather conditions and a calm sea are essential. Best months are from May to September for snorkeling and diving. Water is even colder than at Cairns of Coll. It is a hotspot for basking sharks in July and August.
Jokulsarlon (Jökulsárlón) is a glacial lake at the Vatnajökull National Park in direct front to the Atlantic Ocean.
Jokulsárlón (Google Maps) is a truly striking spot to visit in Iceland and was one of the Game of Thrones filming locations for season 7. However, it does get incredibly crowded during the daytime. Read on for our guide on how to avoid the crowds, when to see the most icebergs and more useful tips:
The lagoon is accessible year-round. Even in the winter, the part of Route 1 (Ring Road) between Reykjavik and Jokulsárlón is usually snow-free. There might be some exceptions when heavy snow-storms occur. Tip: You'll have the best experience and more freedom if you rent a car, preferrably a 4WD. Most of our tips below can only be followed with a (rental) car.
The icebergs are present year round. However, it's impossible to predict the amount of ice on a certain day. Our tips on increasing your chances:
Visit In Winter:
You'll often see more icebergs during the winter months. Another great advantage to visiting in winter is the Northern Lights. The downsides: It's colder, and no boat tours are available in winter.
Visit In Summer:
In the summer, as well as late spring and early fall, there are slightly fewer icebergs, but boat tours are available, and the weather is more pleasant. However, you'll usually spot enough icebergs in every season. A great experience in the summer: Afternoon on a sunny day for incredible contrasts between light, ice and the black beach.
Stay Two Days:
Regardless of the season, you should stay at least two days. Book a nearby hotel (Best Hotels at Jokulsárlón). First you visit the Lagoon in the afternoon/evening, then you stay the night in the hotel and on the next day you get back to the lagoon early in the morning. That way you'll avoid the crowds at both times (evening and morning). Staying two days also means, you can experience different tide levels, often different wind/weather and different light. You'll maximize the chances to see enough icebergs as well. Few visitors report, that almost no icebergs were there on a given day. It's not very likely but possible. Visit 2 days to be on the safe side.
Avoiding the Crowds
Crowds at Jokulsárlón are usually present year-round. The peak summer months bring the most tourists. However, there are easy ways to get away from the crowds:
Be Early or Stay Late:
Be there as early as possible, preferably around 7:30 AM. Then you'll have about an hour or more until the first tour buses arrive. Since a drive from Reykjavik takes about 5 hours, the best bet is to stay at a nearby hotel the night before you visit early. We highly recommend to stay two days (see section above: stay two days for the icebergs and light). Example: Day #1: Stay late at the lagoon until at least 4 or 5 PM when most tourists are gone. Staying late is a great idea even if you are not planning to visit again the next day. The night: Stay at the nearby hotel. Day #2: Be at Jokulsárlón early in the morning (see above).
The area around the main parking lot is always crowded: Check out the layout drawing below. Most people stay within 60 m of the parking area. Just walk a little farther, and you'll get away from the main crowds. About half mile down the road is another parking lot. From there you can go down the cliff to the beach. It's significantly less busy here and most of the time you see as many icebergs. The two beaches are nearly identical, while one of them often has more icebergs than the other. It's impossible to predict that on a certain day. If you'd like to avoid crowds, just go to the beach with fewer icebergs.
Visit In Shoulder Months:
Usually, the place is busy year-round nowadays. The peak season used to be from June until August. However, in the recent years, many visitors also come for the Northern Lights in winter. A chance of a slightly less busy place is the months of late September - October or April - early May. However, don't expect a quiet place during daytime regardless of the season.
The gannets may remain together for several years. The mating rituals are spectacular to observe. The incubation of the egg lasts more than 40 days.
Birds Island is a year-round destination with a size of three hectares. Most interesting is the mating ritual between April and August. Breeding season from August/September until March.
The opening hours are depending on summer and winter time. Opening at 7 a.m. closing in summer at 7 p.m. and winter at 5 p.m.