Tag Archives: beach

Carmel-By-The-Sea Day Trip, Point Lobos and Mission Carmel

A Picturesque Location Where Mountains Meet the Sea

Just about an hour and a half south of us here in San Jose lies the world famous Carmel by the sea. While we’ve visited Monterey, which is just a few miles north, we had yet to really take in Carmel.

The picturesque location of mountains meeting the sea shore gives no wonder to why it’s such a popular day trip for many in the Bay Area. We had been back in California for a couple months at this point, and I was really itching to get a good coastal hike. After some research I decided I wanted to go to Point Lobos State National Reserve and Briana planned a couple other stops for our time down there such as Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo (better known as Mission Carmel). 

Whaler's Cove Point Lobos

Mission Carmel

Stairs At Mission Carmel

We arrived at the Mission just after noon on a very clear and somewhat warm Sunday. It was pretty busy, as it is an operating mission, but we managed to get parking easily enough and made our way in to see the site.

The campus is large, and a perfect example of a classic Spanish Mission: adobe plaster, warm colored brick, and ceramic tile roofs. Mission Carmel had a distinct charm and personality to it, one that I find perfectly characterized by it’s crooked window above the entrance to the church.

Fountain At Mission Carmel

The grounds were well landscaped with numerous flowers and fountains. Throughout the compound there were also numerous rooms that we could visit that held various histories and artifacts related to the Mission and surrounding area.

Chapel Entrance At Mission Carmel
Fountain At Mission Carmel

The mission was established June 3, 1770. The mission served primarily to baptize the native Ohlone Indian population. It reached a peak of 927 members in 1794, but had dwindled back down to 381 by 1823.

Graveyard At Mission Carmel

The missions was secularized in 1833 by the Mexican government and slowly fell into ruin and disrepair until the Roman Catholic Church regained authority of the mission in 1863, with extensive restoration beginning in 1931.

Tomb At Mission Carmel

Today the mission serves multiple roles as a museum, working mission, and minor basilica.

Display In Mission Carmel

Carmelite Monastery

We also planned on visiting the Carmelite Monastery on our way to Point Lobos. I had thought this would make for a good starting point to our Point Lobos excursion. I was wrong – but it was still a nice stop.

Carmelite Monastery Monterey

The Monastery is mostly closed off to visitors. While you can visit, you will need to set up an appointment first. With that being said, you can walk around the grounds and enjoy the sea breeze.

Bri in The Carmelite Monastery Garden
Carmelite Monastery Garden

Point Lobos State National Reserve

Monastery Beach

Having parked at Monastery Beach, which sits across the street from the Carmelite Monastery, we made our way along the beach in search for the trail into Point Lobos. The maps online are very misleading, because it appears that you can enter the park via a trail at the far end of Monastery Beach – you cannot do this. As such, we walked about a mile up the road to main entrance to the park. It also turns out this is the only entrance into the park.

Monastery Beach
Warning Sign for Monastery Beach

Parking costs $10, however, there is no charge for people just walking in as we did. When you enter the park, you are a little bit away from the actual coast. Because of this, we set off for Whaler’s Cove via the Carmelo Meadow Trail.

Forest Trail through Point Lobos

Whaler’s Cove

Whaler’s Cove is the largest cove in Point Lobos, and it offers stunning views the seashore. Upon arriving, we were treated to a fresh breeze and picturesque landscapes. We slowly made our way around the top of the cliff sides until we reached a boat launch.

Whaler's Cove Panoramic

Here at the boat launch, we were treated to a great surprise: a Sea Otter with her pup, eating crabs. We sat here and watched for nearly a half hour before proceeding on. It was mesmerizing to watch the wildlife here, and we managed to snap a few other pics of the local sea life.

Sea Otter Eating A Crab
Crab on the Rocks

From here, we proceeded up a trail along the cliff edge and continued on the trim around the coastal trail. Here you can find a small whaling museum to visit. The museum features stuff such as the equipment used by whalers, whale bones, and baleen.

Whaling Display Near Museum
Bri With Whale Bones

Cannery Point

Cannery Point offered a great view of the ocean (as did most spots). Artists sometimes will take advantage of the location.

Overlooking Whaler's Cove
Man Painting At Point Lobos

We kept on, passing through Big Dome and Cypress Coves before beginning to head back. While we only saw half the park at this point, we were beginning to get tired and the sun was beginning to go down, and we wanted to get back home before dark (we didn’t).

Cypress Cove Point Lobos

So when we came to a trail junction near Headland Cove, we turned inward back towards the park entrance. The park was very well maintained, so these trails in the interior were well manicured, paved, or had wooden walkways.

Meandering Trail In Point Lobos

The southern half of Point Lobos is considered phenomenal as well. We plan to return to see the rest of the park. For those interested, you can also go scuba diving here in the Point Lobos Marine Reserve. Visit the park December through February and you might see migrating gray whales.


Sea Otter In Whaler's Cove Point Lobos

bali indonesia tanah lot holy flower on beach

Tanah Lot And Pura Batu Bolong

During our week in Bali, we chose to visit one of the iconic temples on the sea. There are seven in Bali, all within eye sight of the next one, but we really were only close enough to two of them, and we chose to visit Tanah Lot and the adjacent Pura Batu Bolong.

Tanah Lot from the cliff Bali

Our Journey Begins

We began our day by jumping on a motorbike and heading to the Color Digital Photo Lab to get some film developed, which we later picked up on our way to the Ubud Monkey Sanctuary.

After dropping off the film, we then began drove down to Zula Vegetarian for lunch and an opportunity to charge my phone a bit and then over to Tanah Lot, which wound up being about an hour and half’s drive. It really wasn’t too bad a drive to make and we arrived sometime around 2.

Hindu Gate at Tanah Lot Bali

Arriving at Tanah Lot

When we arrived, I was surprised to find the parking area was quite a ways away from the actual temple and thought that we might be in the wrong spot. However, everything indicated that we were in the right spot. We purchased our entrance tickets for 15,000 IDR each (~$1.15) and began our walk through the numerous shops, stalls, and restaurants on the way to the temple.

Street Art at Tanah Lot Bali
Street in Tanah Lot Bali
Store at Tanah Lot Bali

There was so much art we would have liked to get, but we just couldn’t. We also got a view of some of the local animals: owls, civets (famous for their Luwak Coffee), and a few Flying Foxes. We really question why the animals were there.

Owl at Tanah Lot Bali
Civets at Tanah Lot BAli
Fruit Bats at Tanah Lot Bali

Finally, after about ten more minutes, we found ourselves down at the entrance to Tanah Lot.

Entrance Statue to Tanah Lot Bali

Tide Pools and Waves

The Hindu temple itself is set on a stone outcropping which can only be accessed during low-tide. We made our way across the rocky outcroppings and spent a while watching the surf and tide pools which were teeming with life, as well as trying to get our own space amongst the hundreds of other tourists.

Tidal Pools at Tanah Lot Bali
Us at Tanah Lot Bali

The rocky shore was quite nice.

Kyle at the shore Tanah Lot Bali

Blessed be Those Who Enter

We then made our way to the actual temple. Before being able to visit the temple, we first had to be purified by the holy water. Religious men blessed us after we washed our hands in the fresh spring water pouring from the island outcropping. We were sprinkled with incensed water and then had rice pressed to our forehead and given flowers.

Holy Spring beneath Tanah Lot
Us Blessed
At that point, we were then able to proceed up to the see the temple. Unfortunately, there was a gate that prevented us from actually getting inside the temple, but it was nice nonetheless.

Briana overlooking Tanah lot Beach Bali

A Fisherman By The Sea

Tanah Lot, means Land in the Sea in Balinese and claims to be the work of 16th century Dang Hyang Niratha. He claimed to have stopped during his travels and to rest on the island. Fishermen saw him, and brought him gifts.

The fishermen told him to build a shrine because they felt the place to be holy. The temple worships Bhatara Segara, the sea god, and it is believed that venomous sea snakes at the base of the rock protect the temple.

Tanah Lot Bali
Tanah Lot Bali


In the 1980s, erosion had begun to cause significant damage to the structure, and the Japanese government provided significant aid to renovate and stabilize the temple. Today, the extensive repairs are unnoticeable and allow for the continued enjoyment of the site.

Caves at Tanah Lot Bali
Beach at Tanah Lot Bali

A Quick Jaunt to Pura Batu Bolong

We walked out from the temple and up the ridge to view the other temple: Pura Batu Bolong. The name means hole in the rock. Quite fitting for a temple sitting on a rock with a giant hole in it, creating an arch.

Beach at Pura Batu Bolong Bali

Unfortunately, the temple was also closed off to us at the time. However, there was a large park in the surrounding area for us to enjoy. We sat for a few hours enjoying our time there watching as the sun sank low.

Park at Tanah Lot Bali
Snake Handler at Tanah Lot Bali
Park at Pura Batu Bolong Bali

Making Friends With the Locals

Some of the locals were quick to take pictures with Briana. We’re not so sure why they wanted pictures with foreigners here (since there were so many). It made since back at Borobodur. In any case, Briana made a few new friends.

Briana With a Local Tourist

Not much is known about the temple itself. Built in the 14th century, legends point to it being built by a hermit in meditation and the king’s master Kuturan.

Statue at Pura Batu Bolong Bali

Sinking Sun

We intended to stay for the sunset. Unfortunately, cloud cover made it apparent we would not actually get to the see the sun sink into the ocean. Because of this, we left a few minutes early to get on the road before dark set in.

Park at Pura Batu Bolong Bali
Pura Batu Bolong Sunset Bali

The ride home was alright, although my phone ran out of battery and required us to stop at a Circle K for a little while to charge so that we could have GPS.

The temples were great, we just really wish we could have gotten the chance to go inside them.


Sri Lanka Weligama Beach Surf paddle out

Surf Weligama Sri Lanka

Much of Sri Lanka is a surfers paradise. There are many beaches with great breaks, especially along the southern shores from Galle to Arugam Bay. So let’s go surf Weligama.

Briana at Weligama Beach

Surf Weligama Bay

We spent our time in Weligama, which is a wonderful town on the southern tip in the Matara district. The town sits on a neat half-moon bay, with nice sandy shores and consistent waves. There are also a few large rocks within the water, but few if any reefs. It is primarily just a beach break.

Due to the nature of the bay, the waves tend to not be quite as big as they may at be some of the other beaches, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The bay protects the waves from being blown out during high winds, but also allows in decent swells. This allows for ideal conditions for a beginner or intermediate rider, with waves ranging from 4 – 9 feet on a typical day.

The high season is during the winter months from October to February, however you’ll find that some areas are able to be surfed year-round.

Weligama Beach

This was good for me, because I am a beginner surfer. I’m quite comfortable in the water and have gone before at Cocoa Beach in Florida, USA. My experience here was quite different though.

Surf Weligama at Surf’n Lanka

If you want, you can get surf lessons for around 1200 LKR (~$8) or you can opt for the route I went and just rent a board by the hour. Because it was the off-season here (June), I was able to just walk up to the beach, look for a guy with a surf board and rent it for 250 LKR (~$1.70). Not a bad deal (usually it’s 300 LKR / $2). They offered advanced or beginner boards, I decided to just go with a beginner board.

Surf'n Lanka Sign
Surf Rental Weligama Beach

Then I went off into the water to give it a shot. Briana stayed behind on the beach to photograph and read – she wanted to see how I fared before giving it a shot herself.

Briana Reading at Weligama Beach
Cow On Weligama Beach

Lots of waves

The current was pretty strong, but not too difficult for me to fight. What I found most difficult however was actually paddling out. I kept fighting the waves, as soon as I ducked under one wave, another one was atop me. I spent quite a few minutes before I managed to get to the first break and try to actually catch the waves. The waves themselves were around 4 feet that day.

Surfer Pose
Paddle Out Weligama Beach

Once I got into position however, the waves were perfect to ride. They were long, had a slight curl, and decent size and power. If you were better than me, you could certainly ride them pretty well. I managed to catch a half dozen, and miss a dozen or so more. My biggest issue was paddling out, which would exhaust me and then I’d get impatient and try to ride the wrong waves.

Managing to surf Weligama is harder than it looks

I’ve since learned you should look for the outflow of water and follow that so that you don’t have to fight against the waves. Rip currents = bad for swimming / good for surfing. Lesson learned. Towards the end of the hour, exhaustion was getting to me and I was getting quite sloppy with my riding and thrown around by the waves.

At one point, I somehow got rolled by a wave and then came up facing the beach to see another huge waves crashing atop me. I’m really not sure how a wave came from shore, but it did.

When I came back, I had to take a rest before going on with the day. Briana decided she didn’t want to fight the waves that much. I would have liked to go again on a different day, but my arms were so sore I was out of it for a few days, and then things just didn’t work out with all the other things we did.

But for surfing, you should definitely head to Weligama and give it a shot. For those looking for bigger waves, just head a few miles down the road either way. Mirissa, Matara, Koggala, Unawatuna, Dikwella, and Tangalle all have great breaks. There are waves for all kinds of riders here.


Matara Beach