The Best Swimming in Big Sur

Looking for the best swimming in Big Sur? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping and more around Big Sur. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top swimming spots in and near Big Sur

  • Big Sur, California

    Hike the Creamery Meadow Trail to Molera Beach

    2 mi
    Entrance to the parking lot is $10 per car, and once you get in be sure to use the restroom before you head for the trail, since you will likely spend a good amount of time out there.Look for the sign that says Creamery Meadow Trail. You'll know it's right when the very first thing you'll need to...
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  • Big Sur, California

    Explore the Big Sur River Gorge

    4.7
    1 mi
    If you are in the Big Sur area during the summer, exploring the Big Sur River Gorge is a must! The gorge is located in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and your closest parking will be day use parking lot 3. The trailhead to the gorge can be found at the northeast end of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park C...
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  • Big Sur, California

    Camp at Andrew Molera State Park

    4.5
    1 mi
    Andrew Molera is about 27 miles south of Carmel and one of the first State Parks you'll hit heading down the coast. There will be signs for the Park as you approach and the main parking lot is only a couple hundred yards from Hwy 1. There are a number of hiking trails and activities to do around ...
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  • Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

    Relax on a Secluded Beach Near Soberanes Point

    5.0
    0.2 mi / 40 ft gain
    When we stumbled upon this beach we were thrilled to have such great views with no crowds.  There is plenty of room to lay out in the sun, you can swim in the ocean to cool off, and the beach is surrounded by beautiful landscape.  If you decide to swim be very careful as the waves and currents ca...
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  • Greenfield, California

    Adventure at Arroyo Seco

    4.7
    This off-the-beaten-trail adventure has a little bit of everything for everyone, and is as challenging as you make it. Many just make it about a mile down to the river for a leisurely day of relaxing, swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying a few cold beverages. Others embark on a 7+ mile adventure up...
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  • Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

    Surf Carmel River State Beach

    5.0
    Carmel State beach is located in Monterey county.  It's your typical beach break with both lefts and rights.  One thing that is super unique about Carmel is that the water is some of the clearest in all of California.  Depending on the sandbars, this can be a really fun wave!  It's also a great p...
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  • Pacific Grove, California

    Relax at Lover's Point Beach

    4.8
    Getting there: Drive to the bottom of Ocean View Boulevard in Pacific Grove, California. You will reach a small parking lot. Unfortunately, the parking here is limited. On the bright side, this means the crowds never get too big! The ocean has open swells for surfers, diverse marine-life for snor...
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  • Marina, California

    Surf, Run, or Catch a Sunset at Marina State Beach

    From the moment you turn into the parking lot, you know Marina State Beach is special. Grab a parking spot in the large lot and then run down the dunes and onto the shoreline! The beach feels spacious on this section of the shore and gives plenty of room to run around or to put down a blanket to ...
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  • Big Sur, California

    Hike Salmon Creek and Falls

    4.5
    4 mi / 1300 ft gain
    Feel free to hike Salmon Creek Trail at your own pace – you can choose to turn back at any point, or at the Spruce (2 miles in) or Estrella (3.25 miles in) sites. The trail leads to open vistas of the coast, giving stunning views of the cliffs and ocean.Around 2 miles in, follow the fork to the l...
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  • Big Sur, California

    Explore Salmon Creek Falls

    5.0
    0.25 mi
    The trailhead to Salmon Creek Falls is located along a pullout just 45 miles south of Pfieffer Burns State Park on the Highway 1. The falls are only about .25 miles from the trailhead, perfect for a quick visit if you are already driving through Big Sur. Though the Salmon Creek Trail continues on...
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  • Watsonville, California

    Camp at Sunset State Beach

    4.5
    Campsites here come with a fire ring and picnic table, as well as bathroom and shower access. These sites are particularly recommended for families and large groups. Make a reservation here.
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  • Watsonville, California

    Camp at Manresa Beach

    4.7
    All 64 tent campsites here are walk-in, making them further in from the road, and more roomy. Each site comes with a fire ring, picnic table, and food locker. There is access to bathrooms and showers, as well. You can make a reservation here. 
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  • Santa Cruz, California

    Beach Day at Lighthouse Field State Beach

    4.0
    This beach is less crowded compared to other beaches in Santa Cruz.  I got there early on a Saturday and found easy street parking.  There was plenty of space to spread out on the soft sand.  Later in the day I saw dolphins several times!  This is close to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.  It’s als...
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  • Capitola, California

    Camp at New Brighton Campground

    / 0 ft gain
    This Capitola camping spot is the place to be if you're looking to do a variety of activities in a variety of landscapes. You can swim, fish, or explore the nearby forest of Monterey Pine and coastal Oak. In the evening, walk into Capitola for live music and great fish tacos.  The S.S. Palo Alto,...
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