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Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach

Spanning the area between Pebble Beach and the Carmel Point, Carmel Beach lies within the jurisdiction of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  This lovely beach is heavily visited by both locals and tourists.  It’s many attractions include the white sand, pretty sunsets, and the fact that dogs are allowed to run off leash so long as they are under voice control.  There is easy access to this beach from several places along Scenic Drive.  Many locals and regional visitors love to have picnics and parties on the beach. There are two restrooms, one at the north end at the foot of Ocean Avenue in Carmel By The Sea and one at the south end of the beach at Scenic Road and Santa Lucia.  Curfew is 10 pm.  Large parties require a permit. Smoking is not allowed (seagulls and fish eat cigarette butts). Alcohol use is OK.

Because so many people visit this beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea and several volunteer groups, such as the Carmel Residents Association and Save Our Shores, work hard to keep the beach trash and pollution free.  Increasingly, however, this task has been growing in difficulty and has proved unsuccessful.  As of the writing of this section, various approaches are being taken to control the air pollution, charcoal and burnt wood litter, and trash from previously-allowed beach fires.  Historically, an unlimited number of fires built on the sand were allowed south of 10th Ave. and 25 feet from the beach bluffs. However, as beach fires along the California coast have been severely limited or banned, the numbers of fires on the Carmel Beach ballooned to the point where over 100 fires on busy weekends here caused smoke pollution to drift onto Carmel and Carmel Point properties. On heavy fire evenings, people downwind can smell smoke in their homes even with doors and windows closed.

Trash, charcoal, and burnt wood litter also have been ruining the beach and fouling the bay when washed out by the surf.  Also, to avoid having to use the beach access steps, people have increasingly been transporting their beach fire supplies onto the beach by trampling the planted beach bluffs and creating illegal “bluff cuts”, which destabilizes the bluffs and creates a safety hazard. Current efforts to limit the damage include pilot programs to install more beach rule signs, lower the numbers of fires, prevent fires from being built directly on the sand, promoting the use of propane-fueled fires, and banning all wood fires as a health and safety nuisance. As of the writing of this section (April 2016), the City Council has adopted a moratorium on wood burning fires for one year to allow the beach to be cleaned of fire debris. During that time, propane fueled devices will be allowed as a pilot project, which is an attempt to compromise by allowing fires but abating the smoke pollution. These devices will be available for sale or rent by the local hardware stores.

To learn more about the current state of affairs, consult archive articles in the local paper, The Pine Cone  Carmel Pine Cone Archive

To report problems or send photos of trash etc, contact the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea Forest and Beach Department

To report problems with air pollution from beach fires, contact Richard Stedman at the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District:  [email protected]

Everyone here needs to be mindful of controlling runoff that can send polluted water into Monterey Bay.

According to the Monterey County Health Department, all local beaches have the following caution:
Do not swim in or have contact with water coming from storm drains. Such water may be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or chemicals, and contact with storm drain water may cause illness. Do not enter water after rainstorms as bacterial levels increase with the increased runoff into the bay.

California Beach Report (Monterey page 39)

For the latest information about beach postings or closures based on the most recent bacteriological test information, call the Beach Condition Hotline 1-800-347-6363. Heal The Bay also records bay water pollution testing and reports these results at Heal the Bay

So far, while Stillwater Cove in Pebble Beach and Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz have had significant problems with pollution, Carmel Beach has not been plagued with closures for these reasons.  But, nonetheless, the water quality is tested periodically. To obtain information about Carmel Beach water quality, see

Last Updated 6/27/17