Monterey - Beaches off the beaten path

McAbee Beach is on Cannery Row, it sits at the base of Steinbeck plaza and stretches out along a small area under one of the hotels. It's a short few steps to all the activities Cannery Row has to offer and the Row has some great photo opportunities.

Close by you'll find many restaurants, entertainment and the Monterey Bay Aquarium within walking distance. 

Many couples head to the Monterey Municipal beach, the big one that can be seen when driving into Monterey. There is another little beach that sits behind Wharf 1 and its colorful restaurants and shops. The small spit of sand has a wonderful opportunity for some semi-privacy with grand colors and a backdrop of the boats anchored on Monterey Bay. It's close to many things, located right off the recreational trail. Walking distance to restaurants, the Wharf stores, Starbucks, hotels and Parking.  The few couples that have taken the plunge here have appreciated its uniqueness. 

Pacific Grove
Lovers Point and neighborhood beaches.

Lovers Point in Pacific Grove - A popular Beach with two sections separated by an old cement pier. Just beyond the pier and main beach is a set of steps leading to the small more private beach. This is a great little spot for a ceremony. Parking is relatively easy, there are public restrooms available, the park is great for an outing before or after. There are two cafes and one fine dining establishments steps away. The Location is also an easy drive to downtown for great restaurants with both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as close enough to Monterey and Carmel for other dining choices. 

Along the coastal road here there are pullouts for vehicles, some with amazing views, there are also small beaches that not many people, other than locals area aware of. Depending on high/low tide these may be options for you. 

lovers point park

VIDEO: the smaller section of Lover's Point Beach accessible by stairs and somewhat less view of the public. Do remember though, weekends and all week during the summer and holidays can be busy, though most people are quite kind and give space to couples I've had out there for ceremonies both on the beach or in the park as well as on the cement pier.

Pacific Grove - Asilomar State Beach

Gorgeous beach near Asilomar Conference Center. The 1/2 mile stretch of beach is a local and tourist favorite. There's a boardwalk to the rear that borders Pebble Beach Property, and at the end of the 1/2 stretch you can continue along the boardwalk and into the Pebble Beach area and its scenic pullouts and additional small beaches. Parking is along Sunset Drive and can sometimes be difficult. There are no restrooms. 


Near Asilomar beach is the Asilomar Gazebo. It sits along the coastal path and is a lovely spot for a small wedding. The parking again is along Sunset Drive and on weekends/Holidays can be challenging but those going early enough in the day or midweek are usually fine to find a spot. The great thing about this location is its backdrop for photos and the quaint Gazebo for the ceremony. There are no public restrooms. There are small strips of beach accessed off of the walking trail.

Carmel-by-the-Sea at Scenic Drive between 8th and 9th

On the walking path that runs along Scenic Drive/Carmel Beach there's a small area with a gentle slope leading to a short walk to the beach and bay. This particular location may give a little more leeway for parking than others as there is an actual cross street where neighborhood parking is often used for those visiting this entry site to the beach. Restrooms are a few blocks north toward Oceanview Avenue and several blocks south near Santa Lucia (cross-street).  The photos give you an idea of the lovely background for pictures as well as ceremony. The trees here have proven great for framing pictures, and the mild slope to the beach is one of the better entrances for clients that may not wish the bigger 'hikes'. 

2 benches, gentle slope down to the beach, likely one of the easiest access points in this regard along Scenic Drive. In the background at end of short clip you can see an area of green off to the right, that's Pebble Beach Golf course and the peninsula of land is Arrowhead Point. 

As with all Carmel locations, parking can be challenging.

Carmel-by-the-Sea : Mara Beach

Mara Beach and Carmel Wetlands is underutilized. It's less crowded, but the parking lot is tiny. The upside to this location is it's still in Carmel, there's public restrooms, the beach has a great view of the bay to one side, then behind is the wetland area where birders enjoy a variety of species to be found. Use THIS LINK for some photos of the area.

Point Lobos - Carmel

Point Lobos is spectacular state park where a great number of proposals have taken place. Park use for weddings is strictly regulated and require permits. Use THIS LINK for some photos of the area and to get information for permits.

Big Sur Coast
Garrapata State Park - Trails overlooking the ocean

Garrapata State Park, the hiking trails on the west side of the highway, is a lovely spot for a small wedding. the scenery is breathtaking, but the weather can be hit and miss depending on fog and wind. There is hiking involved and I've had more than one wedding party family member have difficulty on some of the terrain. It's a great place though if you're party are up for the easy-ish hike (when in appropriate shoes) and don't mind the incline / don't have breathing difficulties. 

Picture #1 "Painter's Point", Picture #2 Entrance to trails, Picture #3 small footbridge on trail.

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road to Painters Point

road to Painters Point

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Left Path from road

Left Path from road

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Video 1 is the walk down to "painters point" on the trail. A small wooden porch-like structure sits here and is frequented by hikers. A wonderful spot but can be busy, and have plenty of people stopping, not very private. 


Video 2 is a small easily accessible clearing within a tree tunnel. It's a simple walk from the roadway / parking. Just beyond this, through the tree tunnel there is a small path that leads to the cliff edge with a lovely view. More private than video 2.


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The iconic Bixby Bridge on Highway 1 has hosted Television and movie shoots and has been a backdrop for some stunning photography. While some have called it an unconventional spot for a wedding others have insisted that this unique bridge along the Big Sur Coast was the only place they'd ever wanted to wed.

The Lodge at Julia Pfeiffer is a lovely spot that easily accessible, but also close enough to hiking and coastal locations ideal for wedding photography. Set in the Redwoods this location gives you the opportunity for both indoor and outdoor events. 

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Glen Oaks Big Sur Lodge River

From the Glen Oaks Big Sur Website:


Imagine getting married under majestic redwood trees that have stood the test of time for many centuries. Embrace your soul mate and commit to your life long bond with these giant and noble trees as your witness.


Take a deep breath and listen…


Experience your magical day next to the Big Sur River with the trees gently blowing in the wind, the sunlight glistening down upon you and the gentle babbling of the river in the background.


We would love to share this special day with you and your loved ones. Please reach out to us so that we can connect and assist you with the wedding of your dreams.

From the Henry Miller Library Website:


It is smart to be out in good time, we book far in advance. This place is beautiful and it has a spirit all its own. Walking in for the first time, you easily feel transported, away from where you came and into, what many have said is, the “jewel” of the coast. For some pictures click here.

Weddings are by far the most common reason for a private event. However we welcome any kind of private event: Birthdays, Bar Mitzvah, Quinceañera, your own film night, private concert, staff party etc. Call 831-667-2574 or e-mail.

Note: By renting the Library you are supporting a non-profit arts organization with deep roots in Big Sur since 1981. Thank you!