A beach guide for CSUMB students

If you’re new to the Monterey County, you may be wondering two things: where are the best beaches and how do you get to them? Many California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students have traveled far from their hometowns to attend the university, which is the closest CSU to the beach!

To help guide new students who are looking for beaches that are near campus, or anyone looking for some new terrain to travel, here are some great places to dip your toes in the sand

Fort Ord Dunes State Park

Perfect for: relaxing, running and strolling

ETA: 5 minute car ride, 45 minute walk

Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Photo by Sydney Brown.

Fort Ord Beach is the closest beach to campus and walking there with a group of friends can be a great adventure. If you take Inter-Garrison Road and pass the Otter Sports center, turn on to Divarty Street and take it all the way down. You’ll walk under the highway, and after you make it through, you will have arrived at the State Park.

You’ll see a beautiful trail amidst colorful flowers and bushes that takes you into the rolling dunes – keep on going and you’ll make it to the beach. Fort Ord is filled with pretty scenery and it’s serenity gets its visitors ready for some chill-time. But, there’s also more to see than the beach area.

An active jogger and CSUMB student, Emma Homes, likes going to Fort Ord in the mornings to work out. She mentioned that she “stays on the bike path because it’s more flat, but the dirt trails are fun because they go closer to the beach and there is a better view.”

Fort Ord is really beautiful, and it has several pathways in front of the beach and sand dunes, so it’s nice to head there to enjoy a nice workout or walk. There’s also great viewpoints where you can look out at the gorgeous horizon if you don’t feel like walking down to the water.

Marina State Beach 

Perfect for: an all-day beach trip

ETA: 10 minute car ride, 45 minute bus ride (Reservation and Beach bus stop)

Marina State Beach. Photo by Sydney Brown.

Marina State Beach is a couple miles from campus, but isn’t a hassle to get to. There’s a huge sandy area before you reach the water, so there’s plenty of space to lay a blanket down and hang out. If you bring any beach games, like pickleball or frisbee, you’ll have lots of your own space to do so, because this beach rarely gets crowded.

There’s a restroom facility and an industrialized parking lot practically on top of the sand itself, so it’s a really comfortable place to stay for a whole day since everything you need stays close by. Because the stretch of this beach goes for miles without any dunes blocking the water, you can see the horizon really clearly. Sometimes, you can spot whales and dolphins in the waves, and the sunset here is simply gorgeous. It’s a nice, quiet getaway that’s only a little ways from campus.

Seaside State Beach/Del Monte Beach 

Perfect for: bonfires

ETA: 10 minute car ride, hour bus ride (Del Monte/Canyon Del Rey bus stop)

The reason these beaches are paired together is because they’re right nextdoor to one another and located in Sand City, which is a neighborhood just a few miles from the CSUMB campus. The two beaches meet in the middle at the Monterey Tides Hotel, which is a great area to have bonfires. As long as you keep your bonfire in front of the hotel area, it’s totally park-ranger approved. The structure of the hotel also blocks the wind a little bit, so your fire won’t blow out. Bring some friends and get your s’mores on!

These beaches are super easy to locate, as they’re right off of the Del Monte freeway exit. If you’re planning on going during the day, the waves are nice and mellow. There’s a long strip to walk down, since the area is technically made up of two beaches and not just one. It’s great for strolling along the water if you’re brave enough to face the cold, Northern California water. If getting in the water isn’t your thing, it’s still a great place to lounge at.

“It’s a really clean beach, and not too crowded,” said CSUMB student, Lauren Rafter. “It’s a great beach to sit and enjoy the view.”

Asilomar State Beach

Perfect for: exploring and sightseeing

ETA: 20 minute car ride, 2 hour bus ride (Asilomar-Conference Center bus stop)

Although this beach is a bit far out from campus, it’s breathtaking views are well worth the drive. Asilomar beach is filled with beautiful rock formations surrounding the waves of the ocean, and has “amazing, soft, fine white sand,” as described by CSUMB student Matt Tepas. Visitors can either walk along the wooden trails surrounding the beach, or venture out to the rocks on the sand to create their own pathway. There’s tide pools on top of the rock formations, where crabs and sea anemones can be spotted, which are definitely worth checking out if you’re comfortable with doing a little adventuring. If not, the sand is very comfortable to sit in, and you can practically relax there all day while encountering the stunning landscape the beach has to offer.

All of these beaches are amazing, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of wonderful beaches to visit on the coast of Monterey County, but the ones listed above are each a little different, and all of them are fairly close to the CSUMB campus. So grab a beach blanket and have a blast!

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