Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
Guided tours
No
ADA accessible
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Carpinteria Bluffs is a 21-acre nature preserve with scenic oceanfront views just south of Santa Barbara. The bluffs feature soft chaparral, eucalyptus trees, wildflowers, and a harbor seal rookery – one of just four left in Southern California.

Numerous trails meander through the chaparral, offering plenty of options for a leisurely stroll. You can opt for a more difficult walk by heading down the steep path to the beach. Alternatively, you can remain on top of the bluffs and walk past a row of large eucalyptus to the seal sanctuary. The trail there does cross railroad tracks. Be on the lookout for oncoming trains, and cross when safe.

A small lookout area on the bluffs above the rookery provides the best and safest view of the seals. From December 1 to May 31, the small piece of shoreline is closed and used as a birthing habitat for roughly 100 adult harbor seals. New seal pups can normally be seen in February or March and are not usually far from their mothers, which nurse their young for four to six weeks. Watching the seals wiggling on the sand is immensely entertaining. Don’t forget your binoculars at home!
    
The sanctuary is a special place for the seals and Carpinteria residents because the proximity of these seals to human activity is rare. Please be aware that no dogs are allowed at the seal sanctuary and that approaching the seals should not be attempted. Dogs are allowed at other areas of the bluffs but should be on a leash. Volunteers from Carpinteria Seal Watch are typically on-site at the lookout to collect rookery and visitor data, provide educational information about the seals, and to prevent large disturbances (human or dog) to the seals.  

The Carpinteria Bluffs was long sought after as a prime location for resort development. The preservation of this oceanfront is thanks to the local community who rallied together to raise the $6.9 million dollars to purchase the acreage.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Seal viewing. Coastal views.

Cons

None.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Features

Family friendly
Big vistas
Wildlife
Bird watching

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

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