Monterey Bay

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Monterey Bay: Our most recommended tours and activities

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

The tour departs from Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where the boat sets sail into the harbor, home to breathtaking sea views. As the tour leaves the dock, catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Upon leaving the harbor, the boat passes the historic Cannery Row and then enters the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Monterey is one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to the deep submarine canyon close to shore. This is where the search for the wonders of the bay’s marine life begins. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled as you scan the water for the abundance of marine life that lives here. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, fin whales and more. As you sail, listen to the onboard biologist provide fascinating insight into the creatures of the bay, and what is done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. You can expect to see humpback whales daily but, you may also see blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales. One of largest movements of mammals on earth happens just off the coast of Pacific Grove, CA – the south end of Monterey Bay. Gray whales pass by the coast, about a 30-minute ride from Monterey Harbor. Due to the short distance from the “gray whale super highway”, the trips can be shorter in duration for the winter time.

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Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

2. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

Soak up the beautiful coast of Northern California on this 3.5-hour guided e-bike tour. Visit Lover’s Point with a gorgeous view of the ocean and try to catch a glimpse of sea otters as you ride through the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Conservation Area. Pay homage to the memory of John Denver as you pass his memorial, continue your trek up the coast, and have a chance to see the Point Pinos Lighthouse, which has shone since 1855. Pedal past the sandy shores of Asilomar State Beach, making stops at viewpoints to take in ocean vistas and the fresh sea breeze. Marvel at The Links at Spanish Bay, a stunning golf course with fairways overlooking the ocean, and snap a photo of China Rock and Bird Rock. Last but not least, take a minute to imagine yourself in one of the luxurious mansions along the path. Your local guides will share their knowledge of the area’s unique ocean wildlife and iconic landmarks throughout the tour. The full ride is 21 miles round trip and lasts approximately 3.5 hours, including plenty of time for photographs.

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Monterey: Catamaran Sailing Cruise

3. Monterey: Catamaran Sailing Cruise

Experience a 1-hour sailing journey around the coast of Monterey. Enjoy Monterey Bay in a relaxing and quiet way without burning fossil fuels and see many well-known areas from the boat. Begin your sailing experience by touring the harbor to see some inquisitive sea otters and sea lions. Next, head to the bay, set the sails, and venture out sailing on the Pacific Ocean. Get a great view of Monterey, Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz, and Moss Landing from the sea. Look out for whales and dolphins in the water as you sail. Join the ecotourism movement and choose sailing for your next tour of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

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Monterey Bay: Sunset Catamaran Sailing Cruise

4. Monterey Bay: Sunset Catamaran Sailing Cruise

Find peace and tranquility on a 1.5-hour sunset catamaran sailing cruise in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. You’ll depart on this cruise about an hour and a half before the sun sets. Take advantage of the limited guests aboard the MMAD Catter for a guaranteed view of the sunset over the horizon. To complement the beautiful scenery, enjoy a free beverage and snacks while sailing. You’ll have a choice of beer, wine, soda, and water onboard for your enjoyment. Sailing is an eco-friendly way to tour the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary because fossil fuels are only burned when necessary to get in and out of the harbor. Sit back, relax with a glass of wine, watch a gorgeous sunset, and keep a lookout for wildlife on this one-of-a-kind tour in Monterey.

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Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

5. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

Experience one of the most famous scenic drives in the world with a live GPS route and auto-playing narration for a complete hands-free and fully guided driving experience along the 17-Mile Drive. Simply download the app and drive hands-free like Google maps. On approaching an attraction, it’s photo pops up and you will hear its audio story, just like having a local guide sitting with you. The tour is developed by local tour guides, curated by creative writers, narrated by professional voice artists and put together using an award-winning platform. Start your tour at Spanish Bay. It is recommended to enter the 17-Mile Drive from Pacific Grove, then follow the directions towards the Inn at Spanish Bay, where you can stop for refreshments at the beach before continuing along the sandy beach at Spanish Bay and Point Joe, enjoying the ocean's soothing music as you drive along. At Point Joe, stop and listen to the audio guide to learn about the European explorers that first came to this part of the coast. Later, drive past Bird Rock, where you can see Brandt's cormorants, pelicans, and California sea lions sharing the rock. At your next stop, get to see the harbor seals at Fanshell Overlook and learn about their pupping season from your guide. As you continue your drive, learn about the history of the 5000-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees and listen to the intriguing story of a 250-year-old Lone Cypress that isn't entirely alone. Finally, stop at the Lodge at Pebble Beach and rest at one of the public areas or putter around in one of the many charming shops in the area. 

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San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

6. San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

Explore the Big Sur and Monterey areas of California at your own pace, and avoid the hassle of organized bus tours. Traveling by private car, enjoy the comfort of seeing the places you want to see without worrying about your departure or arrival time. Learn more about the famous landmarks with a reliable service, offering maximum security and, most of all, the best level of hospitality in the industry. Following a pick-up from your accommodation in San Francisco (pick-ups in other cities in the Bay Area are available on arrangement), get recommendations on the best places to stop to take pictures or explore further; you decide where you want to go. Take a scenic drive from San Francisco to Carmel and Big Sur via State Route 1, the north-south highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California. Travel the forested road of 17-Mile Drive. Discover the Mission District and Monterey Bay Aquarium. See all the sights of Fisherman's Wharf. Drive down to the Big Sur Bixby Creek Bridge, and marvel at the flora and fauna of Poit Lobos State Reserve south of Carmel before your return to San Francisco.

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From San Francisco: Highway 1 Self-Drive Audio Tour

7. From San Francisco: Highway 1 Self-Drive Audio Tour

Hop in your car and enjoy this self-guided audio tour along the Pacific Coast Highway. Start in San Francisco or LA, and simply follow the GPS guide to explore one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal road in the world. Take your time driving through Monterey Bay, artsy Carmel and more. Your virtual audio guide will share interesting facts and insights as you drive. Admire views of rocky headlands, jewel-like coves, waterfalls and the famous bridges of Big Sur as you explore California’s coastal highlights. Your downloaded guide will give you plenty of opportunities to pull off the road and explore local beaches, wildlife and towns on foot. Wander through San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, Ventura & Malibu before wrapping up the tour in Los Angeles. You will receive an email with the audio tour app link and a unique password from the local supplier within 1 hour of booking. Once the app is downloaded, take the tour whenever you would like. Just head to stop number 1 and begin exploring.

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Monterey: Half-Day Electric Bike Rental

8. Monterey: Half-Day Electric Bike Rental

Begin your adventure at the Monterey Coastal Recreational Trail, near the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Enjoy a great place to practice with the bike's throttle and to experience a low-level of pedal-assist. You'll soon forget the controls and begin to marvel at the breathtaking ocean vistas. See harbor seals on the beach near the Hopkin's Marine Station, where the sweeping vistas start. After a few minutes, arrive at Lover's Point Park (featured filming location for "Big Little Lies."). There, hop on the wide and scenic Ocean View Boulevard, and share the road with slow-moving cars for a short while. Make sure to stop at Kissing Rock, Pacific Grove's beautiful little sea arch. Take your own pace as you ride this scenic stretch of coastline. Pass the John Denver Memorial, Point Pinos Lighthouse, Asilomar Beach, and the Pacific Grove Links Golf Course. After Asilomar beach, experience the full power of the electric motor. Go full throttle as the road pulls inland and climbs a long hill to the entrance of Pebble Beach. Turn right on 17 Mile Drive, and take the bike path back down to the ocean. Scan the golf courses and yards for deer — you're sure to see a few along the ride. In Pebble Beach, ride past even more stunning vistas: Spanish Bay, Point Joe, Restless Sea, and China Rock. Make sure to stop at Bird Rock (public restrooms here) to watch the sea lions splash and sunbathe. Hop back on your e-bike and continue along the ocean to the Lone Cypress. To spot some sea otters, stop at Fanshell Beach Overlook and Cypress Point Lookout. Here the true mansions start. Follow the road that winds through 300-year-old Cypress Trees and some of the most expensive homes in Pebble Beach. Suddenly, break out into a clearing and see the Lone Cypress perched on its stony outcropping. Your next stop should be the Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point where a short walk brings you to a beautifully sculpted coastline. For a little "nurture," continue on just a little further to Pebble Beach Lodge for food, restrooms, amd shopping. From here, you can either ride back the same route, take a shortcut, or continue on to Carmel to explore its coastline and cottages.

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Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

9. Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

Enjoy the wildlife, then relax as you take in the beautiful sunset over Monterey Bay on a sightseeing cruise. Meet your guide at the wharf and climb aboard the boat to start your tour. Spot whales, dolphins, and a wide variety of marine wildlife in Monterey Bay. Whales are seen every day in this area. Listen to your marine biologist or naturalist guide as they share interesting information about the animals you see, the natural history of the local area, and conservation. Witness scientific research in action as marine biologists and naturalists collect sighting data to learn about the local wildlife. Then, sit back and relax as the sun sets, reflected in the water, providing lasting memories and incredible photo opportunities. Finally, return to the wharf and dry land.

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Monterey: 24-Hour or 48-hour Motorcycle Rental

10. Monterey: 24-Hour or 48-hour Motorcycle Rental

Rent a motorcycle to explore California’s Big Sur in an unforgettable way. Begin your adventure in the Monterey area after your motorcycle delivery to your local hotel.  Head out on your adventure to explore Cali’s diverse landscapes, whether you choose 24-hour or 48-hour hire. Ride a 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 400abs, selected for its ease of operation by novices and more experienced riders alike. Appreciate the Pacific Coast as you hit the road, or head inland to explore the canyons and mountainous terrain. Enjoy the freedom to choose what you see. Even meet fellow motorcyclists on the way.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Monterey Bay

Want to discover all there is to do in Monterey Bay? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Monterey Bay

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 249 reviews

Crew was very friendly and very knowledgeable. We learned many new things about whales, other marine life and the unique aspects about the ocean around Monterey. We felt safe under the expert navigation and the sailing of the captain.

Knowledgeable naturalists add to trip. Clean ship and great experience. Would definitely book again.

A magnificent afternoon where we could see orcas, whales, dolphins! Amazing!

It was an nice experience.the crew is awesome and they were so friendly.

Dont have anything bad to say at all!!!! Would recommend to everyone!!!