Beautiful Salinas River State Beach offers sandy, dune-filled shores and deep, blue waves. Part of Monterey Bay’s coastal dune system, the beach is known as a great spot for birders, as so many unique species call the beach home. It’s generally not very crowded and is most attractive to those looking for a relaxing spot to visit and enjoy nature, rather than sunbathe and splash in the waves.
Parking at the beach is free, and it’s also just a short drive from both Monterey and Santa Cruz, making it a great pit stop if you’re visiting either city, or if you live there and would like to escape the tourists.
The area is perfect for long walks with your furry friend. A dune trail starts at the parking area and follows the dunes, which will give both of you great views of the local wildlife. (Just make sure Fido stays on the trail, as birds sometimes nest in the area!)
Other activities offered at the beach include birdwatching, fishing, biking and horseback riding. Swimming and surfing are not advised, as the waters off the shore contain the remnants of a sunken barge and water conditions are often unfortunately dangerous, with unpredictable, strong waves and currents.
No lifeguards tend to this section of the coast. Similarly, the weather is apt to change quickly and can be cool, which can make swimming and surfing unpleasant. Even if you’re just visiting the beach to go on a walk, you’ll want to bring a jacket or sweater, and you might even want to pack a vest or sweater for your dog if you know they’re likely to get a chill.
The rules for dogs in this area have been known to change over the years, so be sure to follow the posted signage. A leash is always required.