Avoid Crowds At This Beautiful And Overlooked Northern California Beach

Looking for a quiet beach with plenty of space to spread out, play a game of frisbee, or simply stroll along the sand without bumping into anyone? Inevitably, the most popular California beaches are often the most crowded. But one stretch of shoreline in the northern part of the state might have just slipped under the radar. It offers natural beauty and a quiet escape, creating the perfect setting to spend quality time with friends and family.

Often overlooked by busier California beaches, Carmel Meadows Beach in Carmel, California is a quieter section of sand located between Carmel River State Beach and Monastery Beach. Carmel Meadows Beach is wide with plenty of open space flanked by rocks on each side. While it's not a beach safe for swimming due to dangerous rip currents, it is ideal for beachgoers seeking tranquility. With all the fun of a busy beach, this waterfront gem offers a chance to relax, listen to the waves crash on the sand, and inhale the salty sea air. Plus, it's easy to get to, and many attractions are nearby.

How to get to Carmel Meadows Beach and where to park

Getting to Carmel Meadows Beach is simple, as long as you have a car — just add it to your list of stops to make along the Pacific Coast Highway. If traveling south, take Highway 1 past Carmel-by-the-Sea and turn right on Ribera Road. If traveling north on Highway 1, pass Point Lobos and turn left on Ribera Road.

Luckily, free street parking is available in Carmel Meadows on Cuesta Way and Ribera Road. For those using navigation apps, type in 2575 Ribera Road, Carmel, CA 93923. This is close to the trailhead where Cuesta Way and Ribera Road meet. To get to the beach, take the trail. It leads to a coastal bluff near the shoreline, offering a few gorgeous viewpoints before the trail leads visitors down to the beach. Take your time and savor the views. Hikers will be able to spot Point Lobos, and you might even catch a glimpse of frolicking dolphins, otters, and other ocean wildlife.

What's nearby Carmel Meadows Beach?

The nearby bluffs above Carmel Meadows Beach offer a fun opportunity to hike. The official .06-mile Carmel Meadows Trail is a quick loop, easy enough for little ones, and you can even take your pup along for a day of well-deserved sunshine (as long as you keep them on a leash!). For animal lovers taking the trail, keep in mind that the best time to spot gray whales and dolphins in the nearby Pacific is mid-December through mid-April as they migrate south from Alaska.

After a quiet day relaxing on Carmel Meadows Beach and hiking on the bluffs above it, visitors have more options for entertainment. Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea is only 3.5 miles away, and while the seaside town is definitely not overlooked by tourists, it's beautiful, quaint, and relatively quiet. For those seeking a tranquil retreat similar to the peacefulness of Carmel Meadows Beach, this is just the place. Carmel-by-the-Sea is reminiscent of a fairytale. Explore the shops, restaurants, and galleries on Ocean Avenue, and if that feels too crowded, stroll the coastal path or get lost in the village's many quieter cobblestoned alleys and courtyards. Pick an intimate table for dinner next to a fireplace or in a colorful garden, and enjoy a delicious local meal before returning to watch the sunset at Carmel Meadows Beach.