331. Point Lobos: Bird Island

Bird Island view from Pelican Point
Cormorants nesting on Bird Island
Black crowned night heron and chick
Western Gull chicks on Bird Island rock
Gibson Beach

Bird Island Trail (331)

As you ascend Bird Island Trail, be prepared for some of the most spectacular sights in Point Lobos.  On the way to the Bird Island overlook at Pelican Point, you pass between woods and sea, high above two white, sandy beaches–China Cove and Gibson Beach. China Cove’s sparkling, jade-green waters are framed by hanging, cliff-side gardens, and becomes a harbor seal birthing beach each spring. Gibson Beach, where swimming and wading is allowed, is accessible via a long staircase.

Into these cliffs the ocean surges, cutting through the tiny cracks and faults in the rock, and in time creating caves that slowly become archways. These eventually collapse–forming islands like Bird Island.

 As you walk the loop on Pelican Point you pass wildflower displays that change seasonally. Here you overlook Bird Island, which becomes a large sea bird colony in spring and summer. Hundreds of Brandt’s Cormorants nest on the flat part of the island. Upon closer inspection, you may spot nesting Black-crowned Night Herons, Western Gulls, and Pelagic Cormorants. Watch for sea otters resting in kelp offshore and for basking harbor seals hauled out on rocks. With luck, you may catch a glimpse of resident Peregrine Falcons.

 The Trail is accessed via the wheelchair accessible ramp or the stairway at the south end of the parking lot.  A round trip to and from the parking lot is approximately eight tenths of a mile and will take you 30 minutes, depending on the time you spend enjoying the scenery and wildlife on display.  Just before the bridge overlooking Gibson Beach, you can also access the South Plateau Trail, either to descend the stairs to Gibson Beach, or to return to the Entrance Kiosk.