Carmel River State Beach may only be a mile long, but it nevertheless offers plenty to do in sunny Carmel, California. With 297 acres of protected beach with a lagoon, Carmel River State Beach is a popular destination for a variety of outdoor activities in and out of the water.
The lagoon, formed by Carmel River, attracts a wide variety of migratory birds, especially in fall and winter; this makes the park a notable spot along the Central Coast Birding Trail. Carmel State Beach also includes Monastery Beach, which is a popular spot for scuba diving and sea kayaking due to the access to the sea kelp forests in the area.
Fishing and boating are also popular activities at Carmel River State Beach. Swimming on this section of coast is not advised, since this area of the ocean can be hazardous and the currents strong, in addition to the steep drop-off from shore that may make the currents appear calmer than they actually are. On land, the park also offers hiking trails to explore, as well as exhibits, wildlife viewing, and family programs.
Dogs are allowed at Carmel River State Beach but are required to be on a leash at all times. Always respect park rules and other visitors. Don’t bring any aggressive dogs or those that may bother other guests. Bring waste bags and pick up pet waste.
There are no fees for admission, but there may be parking fees. Annual passes are available online or by phone. For specific park hours and availability, contact the park office. There are no overnight visits or camping permitted, but there are plenty of other camping areas or hotels if you plan to stay in the area overnight.
There is a ban on all fires on the beach at Carmel River State Park, due to fire hazards. If you plan on barbecuing, raised and self-contained gas camp stoves are permitted. If you find yourself near Big Sur and are looking for a dog-friendly beach area, come visit Carmel River State Beach.