Carmel is blessed with two very different beaches. The City Beach at the end of Ocean Ave. Is a busy, social beach. Dogs play off leash,
their owners visit ,
children play and surfers ride the waves. It is a fun, festive spot.
Bill and I first spot Carmel River State Beach while dining at the Mission Ranch. We see it across the sheep meadow and admire the view. It is here that the Carmel River empties into the sea.
When we are taking our walk along Scenic Dr., we again spot it, a glorious turquoise color on this sunny day.
We later discover that more often it will appear under cloudy skies.
But today we descend the stairway at the west end and walk the relatively deserted mile-long stretch of sand. This is a beach for contemplation and solitary walks
away from the flock.
This is also a beach where the waves surprise you with their sudden strength.
We later learn that swimming, wading or even just walking too near the ocean can be extremely dangerous as the water is known for its unpredictable riptide. We leave the beach with soaked shoes , jeans and respect for Mother Nature’s power.
We have a completely different experience when we approach the beach from the opposite direction. At first we just notice tall reeds, green hills and clouds.
Then the small parking lot comes into view.
We walk across the lot facing inland and discover a bird sanctuary in a lagoon.
During the dry summer months, the ocean beach blocks the Carmel River from flowing to the sea- forming a large “swimming pool” for the birds and creating a bird watchers’ paradise full of gulls, brown pelicans and a variety of shore birds.
The scenery is spectacular in every direction.
Inland, the reeds are backed by soft green hill and dramatic skys.
Sunset is our favorite time .
It seems so tranquil as birds fly home
Or line up to bid the sun “good night”
Or small groups have the delight of watching the sun set with Point Lobos in the background.
When I read reviews of this beach, I laugh when I find this review:
“Terrible. Awful. Don’t come.”
And this one :
“Don’t come here. It’s a terrible beach and no room for you. Sorry. Ok, just kidding. It is an amazing beach, but if it gets too crowded loses a large part of its appeal. It has always been a kinda hidden local spot and that’s a big part of the charm.”
Indeed it is.