Pirate’s Cove: a little more booty than you’d expect, but still a coastal gem

I’ve been to Pirate’s Cove a few times, and it’s always been a treat.

Pirate's Cove

Parking is free, and there’s a few different fun spots you can go to from the trails. There is a cave overlooking the water and tide-pools to explore (both found by heading right on the trail and following the signs), but most recently I’ve gone down to the beach area.

Once you make your way down the steep little trail leading to the beach (be careful climbing down–I’ve watched someone fall and have to get carried up firefighters), you’ll find yourself on a skinny stretch of sand sandwiched between the cliffs and the waves.

beach photo credit: R. Seidman

It’s very pretty there, and when I went in the mid- afternoon on a weekend day it was not crowded at all. There is plenty of room to stretch out a big blanket and relax on your own or with friends. Don’t be alarmed when a less-than clothed body walks by- this beach is also a nude beach, though the boldly undressed tend to stay at the far end of the beach.

Of course, the water is icy cold, so try going for a walk along the sand, enjoying the view of the ocean. Occasionally you will catch a sea lion playing near the rocks or a sailboat drifting by the cove.

a beautiful afternoon with the parking lot in the background overlooking Pirate's Cove

About halfway down the beach are some rocks that are fun to climb on and explore. There is not much life to see here, though, so for the real tide-pools walk all the way to the rocks down the beach or head back up the trail towards the cave.

google satellite view of Pirate's Cove

There’s only one thing about Pirate’s Cove that I don’t like, and it has nothing to do with the natural cove itself. It’s the trash. People leave behind things like food wrappers, bottles, cans, shoes, boxes, plastic bags and I’ve even seen a display of undergarments adorning the brush along the trail. All the trash takes away from the beauty of the cove, and quite frankly, it’s just gross. So, I encourage visitors of this little central coast gem to leave behind only footprints on the beach, instead of trash.

When I went last weekend, my friends and I just threw down a couple towels and lounged around in the sun for a few hours. It was much quieter than Avila Beach or Shell Beach on a weekend. Pirate’s Cove is a wonderful escape, and a laid-back, secluded beach perfect for a lazy afternoon– whether you’re clothed or baring it all!



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