Editor’s Note: Due to the August 2020 wildfires and the coronavirus pandemic some destinations mentioned in this article may be closed. When planning a trip, be sure to check with your destination to make sure it is accessible and open.
When it comes to outdoor recreational activities in beautiful Monterey County, the region’s world-class golfing is at, or near, the top of every list.
But even if you don’t know a putter from a wedge, you’ll find more than enough exhilarating adventures to keep you busy — including the five possibilities listed here.
Given the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s always wise to consult official websites for closures and/or operational changes before you go.
Bike the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail: This 18-mile paved path hugs the coastline, following the old Southern Pacific Railway route. The two-mile section between Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Pacific Grove is the most popular, offering access to Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Don’t have your own wheels? There are several bike — and surrey — rental outlets in the area. Make sure to save some time for Lovers Point, an enchanting 4.4-acre park and beach prominently featured in HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” It’s a great place for picnics, swimming, rock-climbing and scenic photography.
Get your steps in
Hiking at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: Point Lobos has been called “the crown jewel of the state park system,” and it’s easy to see why. With its spectacular ocean vistas, rocky bluffs, hidden coves and coastal woods, it is breathtakingly beautiful.
The park features a number of superb hiking trails that range from easy to challenging. The relatively short Bird Island Trail offers access to two sandy beaches, Gibson and China Cove. (Access is cut off during seal-pupping season). Another favorite: the mile-long Cypress Grove Trail, which winds its way through a stand of the distinctively gnarled trees.
Kayak on Monterey Bay: Locals will tell you that there’s no better way to experience one of the prettiest bodies of water on the West Coast than aboard a kayak. Teeming with marine wildlife, the bay offers a chance to enjoy awesome close encounters with otters, harbor seals, dolphins, birds and a wide variety of fish.
Several companies offer rentals, tours and lessons, including Adventures by the Sea and Monterey Bay Kayaks.
Scuba diving in the bay (and beyond): Of course, if you’re even more adventurous, you’ll want to get down into the water. Wide-eyed divers are drawn to Monterey by the bay’s distinctive kelp forest, submarine canyon and generally good visibility.
The area also offers several popular beach dives for all levels of divers. Just make sure to wear a wetsuit in these often-chilly waters.
Check here for more information on Monterey scuba diving and local dive shops.
Between a rock and a hard place
Rock Climbing at Pinnacles National Park: You don’t have to have the skills of Alex Honnold to enjoy scrambling all over the park’s rugged volcanic formations, which are 23 million years old. There are many options here suited to both newbies and experts, and key areas are rigged with permanent anchors.
If rock-climbing isn’t your thing, this 26,000-acre park is also a great place for cave exploration, bird-watching and hiking. Find details, maps and closure information at www.nps.gov/pinn/.