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“Grey Whale Cove Trail”

Gray Whale Cove State Beach
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Attraction details
Owner description: Gray whales can often be spotted close to the shore of this scenic beach. Surrounded by high cliffs, it features a clothing-optional section during the spring.
Reviewed April 13, 2008

Grey Whale Cove Trail is a 1 mile easy hike between Grey Whale Cove Parking lot and the Martini Creek gate, (2 miles round trip). At each end there is a short, moderate incline then the trail levels off and contours the hillside above Highway 1. On a clear day the ocean view is breathtaking.You can see Montara State Beach from the southern end of the trail, (photo 1). Biking and horseback riding are also permitted on the trail, (photo 2).
Besides admiring the ocean view, the hillside is home to a diverse number of wild flowers that can be seen during spring months such as Douglas Iris, (photo 3).
If you are willing to descend a fairly lengthy staircase, I recommend visiting Grey Whale Cove State Beach, (photo 4). It is a lovely beach perfect for picnics and letting the kids play in the sand, (photo 5).
As an undeveloped area there is no drinking water. Portapotties are situated at the top of the staircase leading down to the beach.

18  Thank eagle88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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51 - 55 of 56 reviews

Reviewed January 29, 2008

Actually, historically the entire beach is a clothing optional beach. Has been since the "60's. It normally had a small fee to visit. Recently, the concession is gone so it is free. Now that it is free, more textiles visit, which is fine for the naturalist generally. Due to gawkers, some textiles, etc. watching from the cliffs above, the naturalist have moved more to the north end but still many ignore the "jerk" and enjoy the entire beach. It is family friendly. During the 60'-80's it was mostly familes but apparently due to the times, less families and more couples and singles. Great naturist beach.

7  Thank tcam55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2007

Gray Whale Cove State Beach is located just a few miles up Highway 1 from the town of Montera. (N. of Half Moon Bay) There is a good sized parking lot on the east side of the road (away from the ocean) and a safe but steep trail down to the beach. Actually the trail drops down about 50 feet from the road and then there are stairs the last 80 or so vertical feet to the beach.

Looking out at the ocean, to the left (south) is a fairly large expanse of sand nestled in a cove with steep vertical rock cliffs. Surfers and families like this section and it is usually free of litter and over crowding.

Heading north around a series of rocks jutting out into the surf (calm or violent depending on the time of year) is a much smaller beach. This beach historically has been a nude beach and the sheltering rocks and high cliffs on this end make it a good place to come on the days when the wind is blowing but the sun is still out.

On the days that I have visited both beaches – there were very few people. This is probably due to the somewhat strenuous walk down and up the steps and the trail to the parking lot. The nude section attracts about an equal percentage of males and females. The people that I have seen seem to be a mellow nature lovers just looking for a place to get an all-over tan.

Also, I have seen nude people on the south beach but that is not too common. There are more people there (and families) and the south beach can be seen from the road above in a few places.

The water is far too cold to swim in. The waves even on a calm day make it extremely dangerous for a swimmer without a wet suit. Also, dog are not allowed on either beach.

If you are looking for a couple of pocket beaches for a quick stop (and a vigorous walk and climb) or to spend the entire day in (or out of) a swimsuit, this is one of the best beaches in Northern California.

* Portable restrooms at the top of the stairs but not near the beach
* Seems to be no fee for the parking lot
* The parking lot is not guarded and not marked
* The ocean is so loud that you cannot hear the traffic on Highway 1 above
* Pack out your litter!

16  Thank MP5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 30, 2017 via mobile
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Thank Erika B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2016
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Thank Juwon E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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