Inspiration abounds in the vistas and tides of Point Lobos today as it has before any of us were around. A hike through this paradise inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Treasure Island, and convinced poet Robinson Jeffers to build a house of stone by hand while also becoming convinced that mankind is not worthy of such spectacular landscapes.
Natural beauty like this can make a strong argument in that direction, and although mankind’s encroachment has had its effect almost everywhere else, Point Lobos remains a pearl.
Point Lobos is a well chaperoned state park with maintained hiking trails, no dogs allowed, nothing to change the balance of the way nature and time made it. An abundance of wild flowers, mossy rocks and ancient wind ravaged trees.
A hike through Point Lobos today is refreshing to say the least, spiritual to say the most. Along the trail you come to The Whalers Cabin, now an incredible museum dedicated to Point Lobos’s whaling past. Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and indigenous fisherman and abalone divers worked these waters for hundreds of years. The museum’s parking lot used to be occupied by gigantic iron rendering pots that once turn blubber into oil, until kerosene came along and made whale oil less than profitable.
Walking past the lupine to the tidal pools you meet one of the area’s most prominent residents, the barking and basking sea lions. The deep waters just beyond the beach provide for a higher than average oxygen content and abundance of sea life; ideal for the restricted divers and a subterranean buffet for the sea lions, often occupying the beach nursing their pups.
On the beach the sea lions seem ungainly slugs, however underwater they dance and fly around the towering kelp forests with a grace that establishes the ocean as their true element, a place the human divers just visit.
Point Lobos is also bird watching haven. The Great Blue Heron, American Krestels, White-tailed Kites, Band-tailed Pigeons, Blue Jays, Red-tailed Hawks and the ubiquitous oft diving Cormorant – amongst countless others, make Point Lobos the place for all things avian. And of course one can not speak of prominent residents of Point Lobos without mentioning the Sea Otter, floating on their backs in the kelp beds using rocks to break apart shellfish gathered from below.
The kelp itself, although hardly seen above water is a complete forest towering dozens of feet over the seabed. At low tide the long green ribbons washing across the rocks.
A person could spend a lifetime exploring these bluffs below the Carmelite Monastery. The description “pristine” does not do Point Lobos justice. Myself, I was looking for a breath of fresh air, a recharge of sorts. Point Lobos put me in a place of understanding and peace that while far away from the office and made it okay to go back.
Where to stay
High end: Highland’s Inn, beautiful suites overlooking the point.
Bed and breakfast inns: Green Gables Inn – Pacific Grove
Low end: Clarion Hotel, Monterey
Where to eat:
The Highlands Innhas a California Market downstairs with an outdoor patio that overlooks the ocean. Lunch runs $9 to $25 without drinks, dinner slightly more. The Pacific Edge, upstairs, is a truly elegant dining experience, also overlooking the ocean. If you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it.
Peppoli at Pebble Beach, a Tuscan restaurant, is incredible and not cheap
There are lots of restaurants in Carmel, for all kinds of appetites. Pastisse Boisserie, Graslings, il Fornaio are all good