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Central Coast Caves

Central Coast Caves Overview

Central Coast

Central Coast Caves include sea caves and ancient lava tubes of a dormant volcano. Central Coast Caves are all uniquely interesting. Rent a kayak and explore secluded sea caves in Santa Cruz, Avila Beach and the Channel Islands. Navigable sea caves on the Channel Islands number in the hundreds. View an active bat colony at Balconies Cave in Pinnacles National Park.

WARNING: Caves can be dangerous and deadly. Please use caution and common sense when exploring a cave. Don't enter a cave without a light source and necessary safety equipment. Sea caves can be especially dangerous when tides and waves are up. Choose not to explore a cave if in doubt and stay alive.

WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME: Bat populations in the U.S. are suffering devastating losses due to White-Nose Syndrome. Learn about this disease before entering caves and see what you can do to prevent its spread.

Central Coast Caves

Pinnacles National Park is located east of Soledad off Highway 101 in Pinnacles National Park. The park resides on the remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, spires and sheer-walled canyons create a breathtaking landscape of more than 12,000 acres. Pinnacles is renowned for the beauty and variety of its spring wildflowers. Activities include hiking, rock climbing, cave exploration and wildlife viewing. Pinnacles includes two large caves with an active bat population and Tunnel Trail where a bridge meets a tunnel blasted through solid rock.

Pinnacles Caves
Pinnacles Visitor Center
5000 Hwy. 146
Paicines, California 95043
(831)389-4485

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Davenport Sea Cave is located north of Santa Cruz in Davenport. Davenport Cove is a small secluded cove located approximately a half-mile south of the town of Davenport. Park in the dirt lot north of Bonny Doon Road and follow the trail to Davenport Cove where there is a large sea cave.

WARNING: Davenport Cove is a clothing optional nude beach.

Davenport Cove Sea Cave
Highway 1 & Ocean Street
Davenport, CA 95017

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Fern Grotto Sea Cave is located north of Santa Cruz at Wilder Ranch State Park. Fern Grotto is a large sea cave that's covered with lush ferns. Visit at low tide for access to the sea cave. Park in the main parking lot at Wilder Ranch State Park. Head south from the parking lot and cross the railroad tracks. Stay on the trail past Wilder Beach and parallel the bluffs back west. Pass several inaccessible coves to where the trailheads north and hooks back south around Old Landing Cove where Fern Grotto is located.

Fern Grotto Sea Cave
Wilder Ranch State Park
1401 Coast Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 423-9703

State Park Map  |   Fern Grotto Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Spooner's Cove

Montaña de Oro State Park is located off Highway 101 just south of Morro Bay. Views of Morro Bay and the coastline are spectacular from many of the hiking trails. The beautiful Spooner's Cove is easily accessible and located halfway into the park, adjacent to the campground. Several hiking trails lead to large coves and sandy beaches. Activities include primitive camping, hiking, surfing, horseback riding, swimming and picnicking. Several sea caves exist in the southern portion of the park including one with a window where the roof caved in. Bluff trail follows the coast with glimpses of some caves but with difficult to impossible access. All of the caves could be discovered and explored from Spooner's Cove by kayak.

Montaña de Oro Sea Caves
Montaña de Oro State Park
Los Osos, California 93402
(805)528-0513 or (805)772-7434

Map  |   Cave Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


San Simeon Sea Caves are located off Highway 1 at William Randolph Hearst State Beach. Many activities are available at the pier including fishing, bodyboarding and kayaking. Sea For Yourself Kayak Outfitters offers tours of beautiful San Simeon Bay that can include several small sea caves along San Simeon Point when conditions permit.

San Simeon Sea Caves
750 Hearst Castle Road
San Simeon, California 93452
(805) 927-1787

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Avila Sea Caves are located south of Avila Beach off Cave Landing Road. From Avila Beach Road turn onto Cave Landing Road and head up the steep hillside road and follow to the end and a large parking area. Bluff-top trails branch out across the bluffs to several sea caves including Fossil Cave and Sea Star Cave. Some sea caves are accessible while others are only viewable from the bluff, kayak or Zodiac. Trails heading south go to Pirate's Cove, a local clothing-optional nude beach.

Avila Sea Caves
Cave Landing Road
Avila Beach, CA 93424

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Dinosaur Caves

Dinosaur Sea Caves are located north of Pismo Beach off Highway 101, in Shell Beach. These sea caves are only accessible by kayak. Some of the sea caves are viewable from Shell Beach/Frontage Road at Dinosaur Caves Park. Contact Central Coast Kayaks for group tours and kayak rentals.

Dinosaur Sea Caves
Cliff Avenue
Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Pismo Caves are located at the far north end of Pismo Beach off Highway 101. Also known as 'White Caves', these sea caves are accessible from Ocean Way, Wilmar Avenue or just head north along the beach from the Pismo Pier. Large crevices and caves are cut into stark white cliffs. The cliffs alone are worth visiting for their unique color and flowing layers. Wheelchair accessibility from the Seacrest Hotel.

Pismo Caves / White Cave
Wilmar Avenue
Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Painted Cave photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Channel Island Sea Caves are located in Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Los Angeles, Oxnard, Ventura and Santa Barbara. Access to the islands is available via Island Packers from Ventura and Channel Islands Harbors. Channel Islands National Park includes San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands. Sea caves are only accessible by kayak or boat. Many of the more easily accessible sea caves are located on Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. Boat trips heading to Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands stop off at Painted Cave on the northwest side of Santa Cruz Island when tides permit.

TIP: If you are not familiar with sea cave exploration you should hire a guide. Some caves are large enough that a rising tide or a rouge wave could injure or kill an inexperienced explorer.

Channel Islands National Park
1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, California 93001
(805) 658-5730

Islands Map  |   Harbor Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

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