Map of Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park
Although close to Highway 1, the state historic park is accessed by a parallel side street (Point Cabrillo Drive
), starting a couple of miles south, beside Russian Gulch. The road sees little traffic, and passes through a peaceful residential area. The paved parking lot for the lighthouse is right beside the road, next to a restored farmhouse lined by wind-sculpted cypress trees. Just beyond is a field used for overflow and large vehicle parking. Another road (half mile) leads directly to the lighthouse, but this may be driven only by disabled visitors, guests at the vacation homes, state park staff and the lighthouse keeper; all other people have to walk. An alternative approach is along a parallel path to the north, through long grass prairie and coastal scrub.
If visiting all the shoreline, the northern path is the best route to start. A walk along here, then on a linked, less-used path to the right, reaches the main beach in the park (Frolic Cove
), a still relatively small stretch of sand and stones, overlooked by houses on the bluffs to the north. The bay is named after the ship Frolic
, wrecked here in 1850. Moving southwards along the coast, the next inlet is a rocky cove with sea caves on both sides, and a small island, all viewable via an easy climb down. Beyond here are various terraces and bays, extending south to the lighthouse, which is built just 60 feet from the edge of the bluffs at the closest point, on a peninsula that is gradually being eroded to form a detached plateau; the peninsula is 500 feet across at the widest point, but just 100 feet wide at the inland edge. The coast is similar south of the lighthouse, with several more inlets and little beaches, but no more routes down to the water's edge. The intermediate-level terraces can be explored however, and they are formed of grey-brown greywacke sandstone eroded into a variety of shapes, though not any of the photogenic tafoni textures. The very edge of the bluffs are home to great colonies of invasive iceplants, mostly carpobrotus chilensis
, the sea fig. The southern section of the park seems less visited, and the shoreline path is narrower: another residential area borders the preserve, with more homes constructed right at the edge of the coast.