CARMEL, Calif. - There's no doubt that the Central Coast of California is filled with natural wonders. We will bring you these wonders every week as part of a new series appropriately named "Wonders of the Central Coast!"
The first selection is a favorite place for many locals and visitors: Point Lobos State Reserve
Point Lobos reaches out to sea on the coast south of Carmel. It's been called the "greatest meeting of land and water in the world." Its stunning views have attracted visitors for generations, but there's more than just a view.
"There's wildlife galore here," said Augie Louis, president of the Point Lobos Foundation. "We've had whales this summer, harbor seals, sea lions, birdlife."
James Bilz, superintendent of the Monterey Sector of California State Parks, outlined what visitors can and cannot do while in the reserve.
"Picnicking is allowed in certain areas," he said. "You have to stay on trail. You cannot take things from the park. You cannot pick up items such as shells and whatever you see. They're protected.
Protected, because the area became a state reserve in 1967. With over five hundred thousand visitors per year, managing the reserve can be difficult for State Parks. But they have help from the Point Lobos Foundation.
"Protect Point Lobos and yet share Point Lobos with all the visitors," explained Louis.
The foundation also helps by securing funding for park projects. And it's not just the foundation; a large group of docents also lend their time.
"A very solid volunteer group of about a hundred and eighty volunteers," said Bilz. "They're actively in the park every day, interpreting."
That includes volunteers like Bob Petty, who I found talking to visitors about the various types of wildlife in the area.
If the wildlife and incredible views aren't enough, Point Lobos is also popular with hikers and diver.
"It absolutely is a wonder of the Central Coast and some of the things that contribute to that are its diversity, its accessibility and on any day you pick, there's always something different about it," said Margaret Gaston, a resident of Pacific Grove.
"We like to think of it maybe as the jewel of the entire California State Parks System," said Petty.
With the diversity of wildlife and stunning views, there's a little for everyone to see at Point Lobos and it's easy to see why it is considered one of the Wonders of the Central Coast.