Insider’s Guide to Flying to Carmel and Monterey, California

Pebble Beach view from the air near Monterey Airport

Nestled along the beautiful pacific coast, Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea have been popular destinations for those searching for a relaxing California escape for decades. The region offers an attractive alternative to the sun and surf of SoCal and the sprawling tech communities of the SF Bay Area.

The area has an immense offering of attractions and activities that everyone in the family can enjoy, including shopping and dining at Monterey’s historic Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf, golf at the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, or Carmel’s vibrant art scene and secluded, pet-friendly beaches.

With everything both Monterey and Carmel have to offer, its off-the-beaten-path location away from major transportation hubs make it challenging for people looking to plan a stay. Drive times from southern California average around 5 to 6 hours (people coming from cites further south like San Diego face a 7 hour drive), and out of state visitors coming from Arizona or Nevada are looking at a whopping 8 to 10 hour drive.

That being said, flying is a more convenient option that visitors often overlook. Although there are three major airports in the Bay Area, the nearest to Monterey is still a 90-minute drive away (San Jose International). For those looking for more direct access to Carmel, Pebble Beach and the surrounding attractions, the Monterey Airport is a much better option.

The Monterey Regional Airport

The Monterey Regional Airport is a “non-hub” airport (meaning it is not used by airlines to strategically concentrate passenger traffic and flight operations) currently offering commuter flights to and from five major western cities, including San Diego, Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The Airport, which is utilized by four major commercial airlines (Alaska, Allegiant, American and United), fields a mixture of twin jet engine and smaller teleprop planes for those looking to avoid the sitting in hours of traffic that an average drive into the area takes.

The airport also offers several enticing short-term and long-term options, including premium parking that allows you to conveniently park right in front of the terminal (you also get the first 30 minutes free!).

Those looking to for an exclusive and luxurious flight into Monterey, and don’t mind breaking the bank to do so, would be happy to know that the airport is utilized by several charter airlines offering private flights from dozens of cities across the country. Costs for charter aircrafts is often priced on an hourly basis and can vary based on the length of the flight as well as the number of passengers.

For example, a one-way flight from Los Angeles with 4-8 people on board can cost upwards of $3,500, but if you and 10 of your friends want to fly private from NYC you could be looking at a $35,000 bill!

Ground Transportation in the Monterey Peninsula

Once you land in Monterey, you wont have much trouble getting a lift to the hotel. Several cab companies are permitted to operate at the airport and can help you get to your destination The airport has an on-site taxi coordinator that can help make arrangement for you so there is no need to call ahead make reservations. carmel-by-the-sea limo service from monterey airport

It’s important to note that a $3 surcharge is added to fares going to and from the airport, but those who are uncomfortable paying that fee can just as easily catch an Uber or Lyft from the airport as well. Aside from the standard options noted above, local limo companies in the area can offer high end rides into town for those looking to complete the last leg of their journey with style.

Travel Times to and from Monterey Regional Airport

Overall, while the Monterey and Carmel communities seem sequestered from convenient transportation, visitors coming in actually have more options than they think.Once on the ground at Monterey Regional Airport, the following are the average drive times to nearby attractions:

  • Downtown Monterey: 10 minutes (3.5 miles)
  • Pebble Beach Golf Course: 15 minutes (8.0 miles)
  • Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea: 14 minutes (7.0 miles)
  • Laguna Seca: 13 minutes (6.9 miles)

Next time you are planning a trip to the area, be sure to explore flight options to and from Monterey to make your travel time as relaxing as your time spent here.

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