Guide to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of the wonders not only of the California coast, but of the entire United States. The biodiversity of marine life found here is amazing and visiting the area is a must for marine life lovers.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers a variety of attractions ranging from whale watching to coastal tours. An adventure here is suitable for families, friends and even couples. As long as you love the sea, this is a great place to visit.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Known as the “Serengeti of the Sea”, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers some of the most spectacular views of marine wildlife. This protected area stretches along the central coast from San Francisco to Cambria. Along the way, stunning beaches and tidal pools, as well as kelp forests make up the coastline. The terrain of the land beneath the waves itself is made up of deep canyons rich in life. The biodiversity of this region ranges from animals smaller than shrimp to blue whales, the largest animals on the planet. This protected area is maintained by the National Marine Sanctuary System and is open to travelers.


Related: See dolphins, sharks and more on Texas’ Galveston Island

Do whale watching

Whale watching offers a chance to experience creatures up close that most of us have only seen in TV documentaries or movies. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to a wide variety of whales that can be found in the area, making it the perfect destination for whale watching.

  • gray whale – Found during winter and spring, when the entire gray whale population migrates through the sanctuary.
  • Blue whale – Found during summer and fall, as blue whales move along the entire California coast in search of prey.
  • Humpback whale – Found during summer and fall as they feast on krill.
  • minke whale – Found all year round, but less common in winter.
  • orca – Transient pods of killer whales are found throughout the year, usually with prey such as gray whales and sea lions.


Discovery Whale Watching

Departing from Monterey, this whale-watching expedition gives you the chance to see grey, humpback and blue whales as they migrate. You will also have ample opportunity to spot other marine life in the area, such as sea lions and dolphins. You will also be guided by a naturalist guide who will be able to tell you and explain to you what there is to see. They offer a variety of travel options, but most are usually half-day trips departing in the morning or afternoon.


Chris’ Whale Watching Tours

Chris’ Whale Watching Tours are the oldest of the whale watching tours available at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and their skippers will whisk you out of the third largest deep underwater canyon in the world. They are also very good at locating gray whales, orcas, dolphins, turtles, porpoises and other sea creatures here.

  • Ticket costs – Adults $60, Children $40
  • Duration – 3 hours
  • Contact – (831)375-5951
  • website

Have fun on earth

Not only is there so much to discover in the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, there are also various activities to enjoy along the coast. There are self-guided car tours as well as e-bike tours that offer another way to experience this magnificent sanctuary.


Monterey and Cannery Row Sea Car Tour

Rent a two-seat convertible scooter car and take it on a 1, 2, or 3-hour self-guided tour of the Monterey Peninsula and Pacific Grove. These cool cars are GPS guided and a lot of fun.

Related: 10 Attractions to Explore in Rocky Mountain National Park

Big Sur Adventures, Electric Bike Tour Along 17 Miles of Monterey Coast

Take an e-bike along the Monterey Coast on a 17-mile trip. Travelers can explore must-see spots like the Pacific Grove and the Coastal Trail while enjoying the sea breeze. There are places along the route that are also great for photography, such as scenic views and groves of cypresses.


  • Meeting space – 2106 Sunset Drive Pacific Grove, California 93950
  • Cost – $79 per passenger (16 years and over), $59 for youth in tandem (10 to 15 years, 4’8″ min), $29 for passenger in e-cargo bike (2 to 15 years, 120 lbs max)
  • Duration – 2.5 hours
  • Distance – 17 miles
  • Contact – (831)244-0169
  • Website

Food and Food Tours!

Chances are that travelers to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary will get a little hungry at some point. Carmel offers a walking food tour, but there are also delicious restaurants to discover.

Small-Group Food and Culture Walking Tour of Carmel

Carmel is a beautiful little town not too far up the coast from Monterey. Here you can join a guided walking tour with a small group that will introduce you to the delights of the small town rich in culinary culture. Sample food, wine, and even chocolate while learning about the city’s history.

  • Address – San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, USA
  • Cost – $139 to $649 per person, varies depending on group size
  • Duration – 3 hours
  • Contact – 831-216-8533
  • Visits

Loulou’s hot plate in the middle

This is a friendly American-style breakfast spot that has been featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. It’s a great place to bring the family before you start your day!

  • Address – Municipal Pier 2, Monterey, CA 93940
  • Contact – 831-372-0568
  • Cost -$$-$$$
  • must try – The House Sausage
  • Menu

Montrio Bistro

This restaurant offers a mix of American and European cuisine while being recognized as one of the five greenest restaurants in Monterey. Their goal is to offer sustainable seafood, as well as local produce and organic meats.

  • Address – 414 Main Street, Monterey, CA 93940-2706
  • Contact – (831)648-8880
  • Cost -$$-$$$
  • must try – Duck
  • Menu


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