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Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay: Our most recommended tours and activities

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being 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. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for 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 at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

2. Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

Hop onboard one of the largest vessels in Monterey for a guided whale-watching tour. Leave the harbor and head out into Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in search of whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife that migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Relax in the heated cabins of the 110-feet Princess Monterey and the 100-feet Atlantis Monterey. Grab a snack or drink from the onboard bar, enjoy spacious indoor and outdoor seating, and never miss a moment with a 360-viewing walkaround deck. With deep nutrient-rich waters just offshore, Monterey Bay hosts humpback whales and blue whales during summer and fall. Gray whales pass by the coastline as they navigate one of the longest migrations of a marine mammal during winter and spring, while dolphins come to the bay throughout the year. Every trip is different, so whether it’s your first time on a marine wildlife cruise or you’re a whale-watching veteran, see what Monterey Bay has in store for you.

Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

3. Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

Discover the diverse wildlife of Monterey Bay on a guided dolphin and whale watching boat cruise. Feast your eyes on massive gray whales, watch playful dolphins leap from the water, spot turtles skimming underneath the waves, and learn about the ecological landscape of the bay's oceanic habitat. Begin your tour by meeting your captain and boarding the boat at the Old Fisherman's Wharf. Sail into Monterey Bay, watching for birds and otters along the wharf's shallow banks. Learn about local efforts to protect what is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse bays in the area. As you sail further away from the shoreline, watch for harbor seals, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, elephant seals, and even sharks. Catch sight of gray whales leaping alongside the boat and curious killer whales, with their characteristic black and white coloring, swimming nearby.

Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

4. Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

Get up close and personal with some of California's marine life on this whale-watching cruise in Monterey Bay, departing from Moss Landing. See humpback, orca, gray, and blue whales, and get the chance to spot a friendly dolphin. Start your cruise in the quaint fishing village of Moss Landing. From here, depart from the harbor and listen to your marine biologist guide talk about the local area and its abundance of sea creatures. In the harbor, you can spot the beloved Monterey Bay sea otter and numerous species of seabirds as you listen to the sealions' bark. Continue into the open waters of Monterey Bay, one of the top whale-watching destinations in the world. The bay's unique ocean floor allows for frequent upwellings of food, meaning you can see both resident and migrating whales year-round. Learn more about the area from your naturalist guide and spot whales including humpback whales, gray whales, killer whales, blue whales, sharks, and other sea life such as mola mola, sea turtles, and jellyfish. Finish your cruise with a relaxed ride back to the port in Moss Landing and get one last glimpse of the wildlife of Monterey Bay.

Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching Cruise with A Guide

5. Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching Cruise with A Guide

Take an ocean adventure on this whale-watching cruise at sunset from Monterey. Keep an eye out for gray, humpback, and blue whales as they migrate along the Pacific coast, along with sea lions and dolphins. Hear commentary from your naturalist guide and take in the sunset over Monterey Bay. 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.

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

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

Soak up the beautiful coast of Northern California on a guided e-bike tour through Pebble Beach on the famous 17 Mile Drive. Ride on powerful eBikes which make climbing the region’s hills and inclines a breeze. Watch for deer, sea lions, and flocks of sea birds as we roll past famous golf courses with fairways overlooking the ocean. Feel the soft, white sands at the Spanish Bay Beach and smell the sagebrush mixed with the sea air. Snap a photo of China Rock, Bird Rock, and the Lone Cypress Weave through the Del Monte Forest of 300-year old Cypress trees, and take a minute to imagine yourself in one of the luxurious mansions along the path. Stop for a quick break at the Pebble Beach Lodge where you can enjoy coffee and gelato while gazing over Carmel Bay and Point Lobos. Your local guides will share their knowledge of the area’s unique ocean wildlife and iconic landmarks throughout the tour.

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

7. 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.

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

8. 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. 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. 

From San Francisco: Highway 1 Self-Drive Audio Tour

9. 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.

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.

Available activities

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Other Sightseeing Options in Monterey Bay

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What people are saying about Monterey Bay

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 898 reviews

The day exceeded all our expectations. We saw hundreds of dolphins, Orcas, and whales. Our guide seemed exceptionally professional, knowledgeable, outgoing and friendly. The actual whales were spotted about a half hour before we were due to return and in order to get the actual sightings in it was necessary to extend our trip. The fuel and time cost the company money but the crew seemed more than happy to incur the extra expense in order to ensure a successful voyage. Impressive!

This was me and my wife’s first time being on a boat in the sea. I must say that the crew and the captain were very helpful as well as knowledgeable. I would recommend Discovery whale watching

Daniel the captain, Andrew and Kayla were fantastic hosts, we saw 5 whales, dolphin, sea lions and otters, highly recommend Travelling from Wales in the UK

Friendly knowledgeable staffs. We got to a few marine life: grey whales, humpback whales, otters, dolphins, and sea lions. It was a wonderful experience.

ben was very knowledgeable and literally came out of his way to personalize the tour for us…