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5 best places to propose in Monterey

couple dancing on the beach

Where to propose in Monterey, CA

Monterey Bay is the ideal proposal and engagement location for those not wanting a busy beach tourist town. With its multiple picturesque beaches, Monterey is the perfect intimate getaway for you and your partner.

With its moderate and foggy weather year round any time of year is great to propose to your loved one at one of these five romantic locations including romantic activities, restaurant suggestions, and photo ideas for engagements. 

Adding a little adventure to your proposal will make more memories to cherish As these locations start at the gateway to Big Sur the wild and adventurous coastline home to Monterey.

There are so many quaint restaurant and lodging accommodations I had to include some ideas to make the perfect setting for romance.

Point Lobos- Cypress Grove Trail

“Point Lobos is the greatest meeting of land and water in the world “

Francis McComas (1875-1938)
couple kissing on a rock

See for your self why this is the number one place propose and have engagement photos.

The rugged coast line and blue water is breathtaking. Start your hike early to avoid the crowds, maybe as soon as the park opens. I recommend beginning at cypress grove trail then heading to see the sea-lions basking in the sun on Sea Lion Trail.

Each trail is short and beautiful. You may choose to pop the question early as you walk to the south point on Cypress tree trail, this is a great spot to photograph your engagement as it has a panoramic view of the rugged ocean and beautiful cypress tress.

Make your trip complete by staying the night near Point Lobos. I have made a list of some of my favorite hotels that have great views of Monterey.

Hotels near Point Lobos

Tickled Pink Inn

After your amazing proposal spend the night at Tickled Pink Inn, a luxury hotel overlooking the Big Sur coastline. 

Your room will have spectacular ocean views from private balconies. Complimentary amenities include- bottle of champagne on ice, robes and slippers.

After a day at the beach relax in front of the wood burning fireplace siping your favorite drink in one of their suits. 

hotel with views of coast

Hyatt Residence Club Carmel

Hyatt Residence Club Carmel is also wonderful and might be slightly easier on the budget. 

They have ocean view and garden view rooms as well as spa suits, ocean view suites with fireplaces. 

The hotel amenities include on site restaurant, room service, complimentary mountain bikes, babysitting services, heated outdoor pool and three outdoor jacuzzi’s. 

hotel pool overlooking Monterey coast

A great date idea could be riding your bikes along 17 mile drive in Pebble Beach then eating at The Bench which sits on the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links .

Great Restaurants Near Point Lobos

Mission Ranch Restaurant

After your engagement photos, head to lunch at Mission Ranch Restaurant romantically located behind the historic Carmel Mission.

Restaurant deck with outdoor seating on ranch

It serves ranch themed goods like steaks, prime rib and twice baked potatoes, full bar and the view is incredible.  You can also stay the night here too.  

Carmel River Beach

This iconic white sand beach is unique in that one side is the ocean and the other side is the Carmel River and Wildlife Sanctuary. 

It is truly a beautiful and tranquil beach that is optimal for engagement sessions. 

couple standing on rocks in the ocean

Enjoy sunbathing and wading in the river but the calm ocean is not safe for swimming as the undercurrent can be strong.  

Places to Eat in Carmel-by-the-Sea

La Bicyclette Restaurant

Start your proposal date off at one of the many restaurants in Carmel like the quaint La Bicyclette Restaurant featuring European country cuisine. 

The food is made from scratch using local ingredients and old world artistry. They claim their food is simple and spontaneous, blending flavors and cooking techniques in a way that is rooted in tradition yet creative.

restaurant with outdoor seating

After dinner take your fiancé to the Carmel River Beach for sunset, take a blanket and watch the birds and wildlife as the sun is setting.   Take this moment to tell your love why you want to spend the rest of your life with them.

This location is perfect for photographs and engagements as the sunsets are always spectacular.  

Places to Stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Pine Inn

Spend your proposal night at the Pine Inn, an elegant full service hotel.  Its first and oldest hotel built in 1889 its unique historic building blends old with new.  Deluxe rooms have jacuzzi tubs and luxury bedding.  

hotel entrance with gate and sign


Tradewinds Carmel is another unique hotel with Asian influences in its design and decor. Since 1959 this boutique hotel offers high end amenities like spa-style tubs, fireplaces, Japanese tansu wet bars, vanities, silk pillow, and goose-down featherbeds.  Rooms have oceans views but most importantly- free parking (hard to come by in Carmel) and a quiet romantic location.  

Garapata Beach

Drive along Highway 1 in the gateway to Big Sur. There are many hidden trails and pullout you can stop and explore. Garapata Beach is a beautiful spot and great for engagement photographs.

Drive south on highway 1 until you see cars parking along the side of the highway about 9 miles south of Carmel. Be aware that there is no cell phone service south of Carmel and beyond Big Sur.

Grab your love, a blanket, some warm clothes/jackets and some snacks to watch the sunset. Before you head down to the beach take the side trail to see the view (another great spot for engagement photos).

couple dancing on beach with sand

The stairs will take you down to a beach that has large shore breaking waves. Walking north will take you to some cool rock formations and a small hidden cave.

Find a spot to settle down as the sun dips lower in the sky.

This will be a good spot to snuggle tight and tell your loved one how important they are to you. It might be windy and cold so be ready to hold them tight.

Cool Restaurants by Garapata Beach

Rocky Point Restaurant

Don’t forget to make reservations at Rocky Point Restaurant and enjoy the views from there as well. Dinner might also be a good romantic place to propose to your love.

Unique places to stay near Garapata Beach

Not a whole lot of close places to stay but check out these house rentals in the area. Carmel is just 15 minutes north as well and there are plenty of other hotels available as well.


Spectacular Carmel Coast Retreat is an oceanfront home with sweeping views of the ocean where you can view dolphins and whales from your window and is perfect for couples.  

Cabin Nestled in Redwood Canyon  is a cabin from the 1930 updated to modern conveniences.  The large windows let in the morning light and allow sweeping views of the ocean.  

Bixby Bridge

This bridge can be busy with tourists getting photos as it is an iconic view associated with Big Sur.  There is a dirt road where you can park and walk along to get a great view from above or you can propose with an audience. 

couple kissing by bridge overlook

If that is not what you have in mind you can wake up at sunrise for less people or drive down to another pull out.  Like Hurricane Point.  

Food (or lack of) by Bixby Bridge

Brunos Market and Deli

Pick up a picnic for your engagement hike from Brunos Market and Deli before you head out to the bridge.  Bixby Bridge is smack middle of the main hub of Big Sur and Carmel with not a lot around. 

So while in Carmel stop here then put on your backpack go on a hike for behind the bridge. 

Places to stay near Bixby bridge


If  the viewpoints were too crowded for your taste, take your loved one to the romantic Big Sur Dream Home cabin for the night with a private outdoor hot tub and fireplace.

Pfeiffer Beach

Last and certainly not least- Pfeiffer beach is an excellent location for engagements.

Very busy on the weekend and the small parking lot down a narrow canyon can fill up quickly.  I recommend visiting either early in the morning or right at sunset on a weekday.

couple walking on beach with keyhole arch

This beach is so so beautiful and can be the perfect backdrop for a proposal in the morning or the evening.

Awesome Places to eat near Pfeiffer beach

Big Sur Bakery

Grab some snacks and drinks at the Big Sur Bakery for your engagement and get your parking spot at the bottom of the winding narrow road.

If you want some privacy there is a small trail to the right as you are walking on the beach that will take you on top of a large rocky hill.

bakery in the forest

Climb to the top to view the beach and keyhole arch below you. Propose here as the sun sets behind the sea stacks.


So many cool restaurants in the area with awesome views like Nepenthe. If that is full you go just eat at their cafe below called Cafe Kevah.

outdoor restaurant overlooking big sur


For less fanfare, I love to eat at Ripplewood Cafe on the Ripplewood Resort great for their chile verde made from scratch. This can also be an option to stay with their modest cabins and quaint property amongst redwoods.

cafe in big sur with garden

One of a Kind Places to Stay near Pfeiffer Beach

Big Sur Lodge

Big Sur Lodge is not the swankiest place to stay in Big Sur but the cabins are affordable and the location is convenient. There is a pool and a small restaurant/food-mart down the road.

hotel pool in mountains


Spa Alia or Ventana is a private and quiet spot that is perfect for romance. There are options for private rooms or glamping. This place is stacked high with fun activities from hiking to relaxing the the garden or pool.

Each stay includes a picnic program, daily hikes, snacks, yoga, meditation, tai chi, couples massage, Japanese baths, and heated infinity pools.

Go to the front desk and check out a range of gear for any excursion whether beach or hike and it’s free. Its outdoor luxury at its finest.


Oceanfront Romanic Big Sur Cottage with Stunning Coast Views is the only rental I could find for under $1,000 a night.  But, this rental is around $300 at the time I wrote this post so its affordable to most.  

  1. […] For more ideas on proposals or engagement photography visit my blog about it here. […]

  2. […] They said that the beach and the ocean was a special part of their relationship. Andrea even proposed to Alexis at the beach in Monterey. Which is so perfect because I wrote a blog post about proposing and getting engaged in Monterey and you can read it here. […]

  3. […] It all came together so beautifully and they will cherish these images for a lifetime. I love helping couples plan engagement and proposal photography in Big Sur and the Carmel/Monterey Peninsula read my blog post about the 5 best places to propose in Monterey here. […]

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