Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
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.

San Simeon pier is a pure and beautiful place to take a stroll on the pier above healthy kelp forests, shoals of fish, sharks, otters, sea lions, and even elephant seals. Like the ocean, San Simeon Pier offers more than meets the eye.

For starters, the pier is located directly across the street from the entrance road leading up to Hearst Castle. In its heyday, William Randolph Hearst (the newspaper tycoon and grandfather of Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped in 1974 and brainwashed to rob banks for a terrorist organization) held his court in a spectacular estate that overlooks San Simeon's honey-colored hills.

Those hills are home to the last free-ranging herds of zebras, antelope, and elk from Hearst's private zoo. If you're interested in lions and elephants, San Simeon Beach has you covered there as well. Down the coast (south) a few miles is a large rookery of elephant seals. Occasionally, a few of these massive creatures make their way to San Simeon Beach to lounge around on the uncrowded shores. You may also glimpse sea lions and/or otters occasionally playing around in the waters. If you're lucky, dolphins or whale sightings are not unheard of. Great whites and other sharks are lurking below on their coastline migrations. It's a busy place.

All this ocean wildlife is indicative of the unique nature of these waters. After all, San Simeon Pier is one of the southern reaches of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), a safe space for marine wildlife that runs a shoreline length of 276 miles and 6,094 square miles of ocean surrounding Monterey Bay. The shoreline includes the stunning Big Sur. Big Sur is a place, but it's also a vibe, and San Simeon anchors its southern shorelines.

Near the parking lot is the MBNMS Coastal Discovery Center, a joint venture between California State Parks and MBNMS. It's a modest space with exhibits and dioramas. It is also completely free and offers some educational programs. Hours are limited, so if you're set on visiting, go online and time your visit accordingly.

Before you walk on the pier, you'll pass through a small but fragrant grove of eucalyptus trees. The pier is dog-legged, and interpretive panels line the walkway. Bring a sweater, even if it's summer—especially if it's summer! A cool breeze off the chilly Pacific waters and the nearly omnipresent fog bank guarantee cooler temperatures. It's an excellent place to seek respite from the inland heat. A mere 10 to 15 miles inland on a July or August day, you may encounter triple-digit temperatures. If you continue through the grove, you'll find another parking lot and a path that leads you to the William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Donation

Pros

Easy to find. Beautiful. Lots of interest.

Cons

Often foggy. Breezy.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Features

Vault toilet
Family friendly
Surfing
Whale watching
Picnic tables

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.