7 miles south of Carmel
3 miles south of Point Lobos
Hours vary, closes at sunset
Other than the turnouts with views of the ocean, there
are no accessible features due to the rugged terrain.
To quote the park brochure, "Inaccessible restrooms are located between gates 8 and 9, and 10 and 11."
Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.
Garrapata State Park is a spectacular shoreline area at the northern end of Big Sur. Trails lead up steep mountains, through redwoods, and along the rugged coast. At the far southern end of the park is a sandy beach, but extremely hazardous surf makes it far too dangerous even for wading.
Along the coast a variety of sea life can be observed. Whales pass during the winter, making their seasonal migrations. On some weekends in January the park staff leads whale watching outings. Sea otters are often seen in the kelp beds. Offshore on Lobos Rocks sea lions gather at the water's edge while brown pelicans roost higher up on the rocks. 110 species of birds live in the coastal woodlands.
Parking is in small areas adjacent to Highway 1. A series of 19 numbered signs mark various gates and trailheads along the highway.
There are no signs to mark the location of Garrapata Beach other than the three numbered turnouts along the side of the highway. The beach is 2.3 miles south of Soberanes Point. Visitors to Garrapata Beach are amazed by the beauty of this often overlooked little stretch of sand.
Beach-goers enjoy strolling along the beach, exploring the little caves, nooks and coves in the rock. Spring and summer wildflowers are breathtaking. Doud Creek spills over the bluff in the middle of the beach and finds its way to the ocean. Garrapata Creek arrives south of the beach.
Three parking areas along Highway 1 provide adequate space for visitors. The northern parking area (gate 17) connects to a trail that takes you to an informal overlook on the bluff. A steep, rugged side-trail leads down to the far north end of the beach - not recommended.
From the center parking lot (gate 18) several trails find their way down to the beach near Doud Creek. From the southern parking lot (gate 19), the left hand trail leads down stairs to the beach while the trail to the right continues along the bluff.
Unfortunately there are no restrooms at the beach. Restrooms are located 2.3 miles north on Highway 1 between gates 8 and 9 and between gates 10 and 11. Clothing optional visitors head to the north end of the beach, although nudity is not in accordance with park rules.
Dangerous surf makes the water too hazardous even for wading.
Geology buffs have taken note of a vertical fault with Salinian granite pressed against much younger sandstone. The fault zone is full of clay gouge. Smaller nearby shear zones in the sandstone display cemented breccia and rock damage resulting from faulting.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety