Things to do in Monterey

Our most recommended things to do in Monterey

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.

From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

5. From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

Discover the scenic coastline of California on a day trip by air-conditioned bus from San Francisco. Visit the Monterey Peninsula, Cannery Row, and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Travel scenic California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1 to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, famous for its spectacular ocean views, abundant wildlife, and historical past. Stop at Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck, where there are great shops and restaurants overlooking the Pacific. Next, travel through the famous 17-Mile Drive and see Pebble Beach Golf Course. Photo stops will be made along this gorgeous drive.  Your tour continues to Carmel by the sea where ample time is given to walk through this charming town dotted with lovely shops, and beautiful architecture.

Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching Cruise with A Guide

6. 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

7. 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.

Monterey: Scenic Half-Day Self-Guided Electric Scooter Tour

8. Monterey: Scenic Half-Day Self-Guided Electric Scooter Tour

The experience begins with check-in at the local partner’s office in Monterey and a short video and demonstration on how to use the electric scooters safety. Once you’re kitted out with your riding gear, hop onboard and set out onto the streets of Monterey where adventure awaits. The tour allows you the flexibility to follow the route on the app or explore the area according to your interests, taking any detour that looks appealing to you. On your scooter, follow the GPS driven app on your phone to a selection of different locations. The tour starts on Wave Streets, traveling towards San Carlos Beach and onto Breakwater Cove Marina where sea otters and sea lions are frequently seen frolicking among the jetties and the kelp forest tops. Stop by Hopkins Marine Sanctuary next, which is home to harbor seals soaking up the sun on the beach or nesting their young. Continue the tour to Lover’s Point, followed by Perkins Park, then see the great tide-pools that dot the shoreline and offer epic scenic views. Soak up the tranquility at Asilomar Beach, then head to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary where you can admire clusters of butterflies in the pine trees above. At the end of an unforgettable day of exploring, return the scooter to the starting point.

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

9. 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: Adobe Ghosts and Dark History Walking Tour

10. Monterey: Adobe Ghosts and Dark History Walking Tour

Nestled in a crook of the California coastline, Monterey is known as a scenic waterfront city — but there’s something dark and sinister lurking in the bay. Come explore the bone-chilling, haunted history of this iconic port. You’ll meet your guide at Colton Hall Museum and Jail, where the spirits of innocent prisoners can be heard gasping, wailing, and picking guitars. From there, you’ll wind through seven other historic, haunted locations, including the famous Monterey Hotel. Scan the water for sea monsters at Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Learn why John Steinbeck ordered a priest to exorcise the Lara-Soto Adobe before he moved in. You’ll hear tales of murderous doctors, fun-loving tavern owners, and the victims of a bloody 19th century tragedy. By the time you reach the final stop, you’ll have plenty of spooky stories to fuel your nightmares. You may even have a ghost story of your own…

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What people are saying about Monterey

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,098 reviews

I would highly recommend this tour. Our group of friends did the 3 hour wine tour and it was excellent. Evan picked us up at our hotel in Carmel and we visited a vineyard and two winery tasting rooms. Evan knows the area well and pointed out many interesting details as we drove. His agricultural knowledge informed us and his easy and kind personality contributed to a fun filled adventure. Even if you have been to Carmel often you will likely learn something new and see the area in a different way.

Perfect activity for our quick trip to Monterey. Guides were friendly and very knowledgeable. We saw many different varieties of sea animals including a few jellyfish floating past the boats. Seeing the dolphins and Humpback whales interact with each other was incredible as they hunted for food.

Incredible experience seeing the Humpback Whales, Orcas and Sea Lions. On some trips you may see the numerous species of Dolphins too. The staff on the boat were knowledgeable and very engaging, walking around the boat and chatting to customers. Highly recommend this trip.

Roman is hands down one of the best tour guides I have ever toured with! We will be back to do a tour of Yosemite with him.

Best of 4 whale watch trips I’ve done by far! Superb! Great crew and naturalist.