Point Lobos is the common name for the area including Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and two adjoining marine protected areas: Point Lobos State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Point Lobos State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA). Point Lobos is just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States, at the north end of the Big Sur coast of the Pacific Ocean.
Point Lobos contains a number of hiking trails, many next to the ocean, and a smaller number of beaches. It is the site of a historic marine reserve, which was expanded in 2007. It is also the home to a museum on whaling, which includes a historic building once used by area fishermen. The longstanding wildlife protection and scenic seascape have led to Point Lobos' reputation as an unparalleled local recreational scuba diving destination. The park's origins lie in the purchase of a large parcel of land in 1933 from engineer Alexander Allan. Alexander Allan himself bought the land to prevent it from being developed. The land that now makes up Point Lobos Natural Reserve was set up to be subdivided into 1000 lots under the name of "Carmelito."
The iconic Point Lobos area is geologically unique and contains a rich and diverse plant and animal life both on shore and in the water. Called the "greatest meeting of land and water in the world" by landscape artist Francis McComas, Point Lobos is considered a crown jewel in the California state park system. The geological history of Point Lobos describes the rocks that create the headlands and inlets that make Point Lobos famous.
Carmel submarine canyon lies just north of Point Lobos. Like Monterey Canyon to the north the canyon provides cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface during upwelling events. These nutrient rich waters fuel the high primary productivity seen in Carmel and Monterey Bays, which in turn support the high diversity of life observed in the water and on land at Point Lobos.
Navigation is limited by Mile Rocks, a low shelf that is only sometimes above the surface. These rocks are at the bottom of the Point Lobos cliffs. In February, 1901, a passenger ship, City of Rio de Janeiro ran aground with 210 passengers aboard ran aground. Only 82 were saved.
As a result, great efforts were made to build a lighthouse on the rocks. Completed in 1906, the structure was well within sight of land, but was isolated by the dangerous waters. In 1965, the lighthouse was replaced by an unmanned beacon. It was demolished and only its base, now a helicopter pad, remains.