First impressions are important.
I do not think they have to be definite. When you met a person, you can keep converse to develop a relationship. When you visit a new place, you can give it different tries until it grows on you.
But sometimes, a unique chance is all you get. My first visit to a restaurant is crucial. If I do not enjoy that first dish, the probabilities of returning are minimal.
Oh, I can tell you my first impression of the Monterey Bay was great.
After driving straight from Los Angeles (about 6 hours), after your right leg becomes numb and your neck is all twisted, well, you are anxious to get that first glimpse of your destination.
I have been to the southern part of the Peninsula before (Carmel, 17-Mile Drive). This time, I intended to visit the northern area and stop by several towns along the bay.
I knew I was close to where I wanted to go when I deviated in Salinas to Route 68. About 20 miles later, I connect to CA-1 and ended up in front of the Monterey Wharf. I kept driving east towards Pacific Grove, a small city located at the Peninsula’s northern tip.
Pacific Grove Lovers Point
For awe-inspiring ocean views, Ocean View Boulevard is the way to go. Once I got to this route, I proceeded to park and get out of the car.
Ahh, and that is when I got to see the Monterey Bay for the first time. Sapphire colored water, strong waves crashing close to the pavement. Cypress trees bent in magical shapes by the wind. Craggy stones jutting out of the ocean. This view was all I needed to relax after the drive. This first impression was charged with tons of positive emotions.
Along this boulevard, there is a park called Lovers Point. It consists of a rocky promontory extending into the ocean. The area closer to the road has amenities such as a café, picnic tables, and benches to admire the view.
There is a cove colored with different blue hues. People use it to sunbathe, swim or launch kayaks. I am from the Caribbean and, let me tell you, the color of the water took me back to my childhood.
Some people walk towards the rocks and climb them. The views from the top give you an interesting perspective of the entire place.
Everybody seems to be enjoying the balmy weather and the sound of waves breaking against the rugged coast.
I even think this little fella (pictured below) was having a good time. He was standing still even though the waves were crashing near him. Also, we got very close to him and he stayed. He was concentrated on the grass/flowers he was eating. We were able to see the wind moving his fur.
The Carpet of Flowers
Now, one of Pacific Grove’s claims to fame is known as the carpet of flowers. This refers to the pink and yellow flowers blooming close to the ocean. It is said this type of plants (lantana, yellow aster, Pride of Madera, and Mexican Sage) attract Monarch Butterflies.
Whatever the reason, seeing tons of flowers covering the jagged shores of the area is quite a spectacle. It is not just me who thinks so. I bumped into people visiting from Germany, Italy, and Australia.
Judging by the number of flowers, I think the blooming peak season was ending when I visited. To see the area in all of its glory, visit in April and May. Anyway, it was a memorable sight. I wish I could have stayed longer!
Walk along Ocean Boulevard toward Perkins Park to see the panorama from different angles.
Since I mentioned the Monarch Butterfly, let me point out that they winter in here. These Monarchs migrate 2000 miles to reach Pacific Grove after their summer in Canada (they migrate to other parts of the States and Mexico too).
The black-and-orange butterflies spend much of the fall and winter in the local Monterey Pine trees, roughly from Halloween until Valentine’s Day. There is a sanctuary in town that can be visited under the guidance of the local Natural History Museum.
North / South of Pacific Grove Lovers Point
After Lovers Point, keep driving along Ocean Boulevard to keep exploring the coast. There are formations with names such as kissing rock and heart-shaped rock. Plus, there are different parks and memorials to stop along the way.
North of Lovers Point, you are going to find the Pacific Grove portion of the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail. From Lovers Point to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a one-mile walk (or bike ride). The trail extends for 18 miles so you can opt to continue as far as desired.
You can rent bikes or kayaks in Lovers Point. Check Adventure by the Sea.
More of Pacific Grove
Pacific Grove is a cute and romantic city. It is small but with a nice selection of things to do. I encourage you to add it to your visit to the Monterey Peninsula. Make sure to read my full guide on the city.
How to Reach Pacific Grove
Pacific Grove is located in Monterey County, 320 miles from Los Angeles and 120 miles from San Francisco. The closest major airport is located in San Jose (75 miles). The closest Amtrak train station is located in Monterey. If you arrive by plane or train, it is advisable to rent a car.
The Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce is located at 584 Central Avenue. Pacific Grove, like many places in California, is a year-round destination due to the benign weather. Do not hesitate to visit even in the “colder” months.
More of Monterey and Santa Cruz
Have you seen a carpet of flowers extending close to the ocean? What about Pacific Grove Lovers Point?
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