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Carmel Bay
Map of Carmel Bay by NationalAtlasDotGov.png
Carmel Bay, labeled
Note much larger Monterey Bay to its north
Map per NationalAtlas.gov
Location Monterey County, California
River sources Carmel River
Ocean/sea sources Pacific Ocean
Basin countries United States
Max. length 4 miles (6.4 km)
Max. width 2 miles (3.2 km)
Settlements Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean, along the central coast of California in Monterey County. The bay is 4 mi (6.4 km) long and 2 mi (3.2 km) wide with its mouth about 3 mi (4.8 km) across, between Point Carmel to the south and Point Cypress to the north; Monterey Bay is about four coastline miles north, with Point Pinos intervening.

The bay's coastline includes Carmel City Beach and Carmel River State Beach, with wildlife largely protected by the 'Carmel Bay Ecological Reserve'. The City of Carmel, formally "Carmel-by-the-Sea", adjoins Carmel Bay, with the cities of Monterey, Pacific Grove, California, and Santa Cruz about 5 mi (8.0 km), 4 mi (6.4 km), and 45 mi (72 km) north, respectively.

Marine protected areas

Several areas in Carmel Bay have been designated marine protected areas under California's Marine Life Protection Act. 'Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area' (SMCA) is entirely underneath Carmel Bay, and both 'Carmel Pinnacles State Marine Reserve' (SMR) and 'Point Lobos State Marine Reserve' are partially underneath Carmel Bay.

Along with the immediately adjoining 'Point Lobos State Marine Conservation Area', nearly 17 square miles (44 km2) of marine protected areas in the waters in and around Carmel Bay are like underwater parks, helping to conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems. No living marine resources may be taken from these areas, except from 'Carmel Bay SMCA', and from there only recreational fishing for finfish and limited "by hand" commercial harvesting of giant kelp and bull kelp, by permit.

Toponymy

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo circa 1910 William Amos Haines
The Mission at Carmel, circa 1910.

The first Europeans to discover the bay were Spanish mariners led by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, sailing up the California coast without landing. In 1602, Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno named the nearby "Rio de Carmelo" to honor the three Carmelite priests on his expedition; the river empties into the bay, and so the names Carmelo and Carmel were later applied to the bay, a mission, the settlement, and other nearby features.

Climate

The beach at Carmel-by-the-Sea 2009-07-26
Carmel Bay on a foggy afternoon.
Carmel
Carmel Bay on a sunny afternoon.

The area around Carmel Bay experiences a cool summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) typical of coastal areas of California. The wet season is from October to May, and summers are often overcast, the sun blocked by marine layer clouds which can produce drizzle. September and October (Indian Summer) offer the best weather of the year, with an average high of 72 °F. The average annual rainfall in Carmel-by-the-Sea is 15 inches per year and the average temperature is 57 degrees F.

Climate data for Carmel-by-the-Sea
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.6
(60.1)
16.1
(61)
17.8
(64)
18.3
(64.9)
19.4
(66.9)
20.0
(68)
21.1
(70)
21.7
(71.1)
21.1
(70)
17.8
(64)
16.7
(62.1)
15.6
(60.1)
18.4
(65.1)
Average low °C (°F) 6.1
(43)
7.2
(45)
8.3
(46.9)
8.9
(48)
10.0
(50)
11.1
(52)
11.7
(53.1)
11.7
(53.1)
10.6
(51.1)
8.3
(46.9)
7.8
(46)
6.1
(43)
9.0
(48.2)
Precipitation mm (inches) 106.4
(4.19)
95.3
(3.75)
89.7
(3.53)
37.6
(1.48)
12.7
(0.50)
5.1
(0.20)
2.3
(0.09)
2.8
(0.11)
7.1
(0.28)
26.9
(1.06)
61.7
(2.43)
69.3
(2.73)
516.9
(20.35)
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