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5 Must-Do Adventures near Asilomar, California

"A Refuge by the Sea"

By: Karissa Frye + Save to a List

Asilomar translates to “refuge by the sea,” a phrase that accurately depicts the Asilomar Conference Grounds. The area started as a YWCA women’s empowerment camp in 1913 and has since transitioned into a well-preserved state beach. It is located in the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.

1. Bird Watching

Upon my arrival, the first thing I noticed was the abundance of trees. Towering cypress trees and pines surrounding you. These trees are home to thousands of birds, which make Asilomar a popular bird watching destination. Hundreds of different species have been spotted on the property. There are designated bird-watching trails you can access from roads within the conference grounds that take you deep within the forests for your bird-viewing pleasure.

2. Biking

At Asilomar State Beach, adventure is accessible in many forms. During my stay, I had the opportunity to rent a bike from Adventures by the Sea. While you are required to walk your bike on the boardwalk, the land you can cover along the state beach on a bike is awesome! A quiet road runs parallel to the long rocky coast and there are large bike lanes for visitors. 

3. Exploring the Ancient Sand Dunes

Asilomar is an oasis of preserved nature and landscape oddities. The sand dunes stand as a beaconing sign of success through sustainability practices. We are grateful to the staff whose efforts have made this possible. While the area was being developed in the early 1900’s, a significant portion of these natural dunes were trampled and destroyed. Asilomar designed a boardwalk that winds through the dunes, protecting them. The boardwalk stretches over a large portion of the dunes, allowing you to explore in all directions. Visitors are advised to remain on the boardwalk and informed of the damage they can cause to the plant ecosystems that help to keep the dune stable by walking on them.

4. Appreciate the Architecture

I was greeted by a friendly staff that gave me a tour of the grounds. Tours are available to anyone upon reservation. The first thing to catch my attention was the intricate wood architecture that made up every building on the property. As an outdoor adventure photographer, buildings are not usually the first thing to catch my eye, but these structures were beautiful! It was like traveling back in time to 1913, when they were first constructed. The rooms were charming, each with a fireplace to add to the timelessness. 

5. Sunset on the Beach

Asilomar beach has some of the largest waves in the area, a surfer’s paradise. We didn't have wetsuits, so decided not to go for a swim, but we did enjoy a glass of champagne at sunset. 

Asilomar offers guests the opportunity to relax, disconnect from the world, and to get outside and enjoy nature.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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