Heading Up To Monterey
After our stay in San Luis Obispo, we headed up Hwy 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway – PCH) for some time to enjoy the sea views of Monterey. The most direct route was inland up Hwy 101. But what fun would that be? When we last travelled along the California coast, we generally opted to travel right on the water’s edge. So we knew the drive up Hwy 1 was a long trip on the twisty cliff-hugging road, so we headed out early.
We had stops planned along the way to see the Hearst Castle and to view the elephant seals. And we knew that the scenery along the way would required several stops at viewing points to catch the stunning sights.
With a long travel day to get to Monterey, we knew we really only had two days to visit. On our last visit to Monterey, we went whale watching. We passed on that on this visit. But we did want to re-visit the Monterey Aquarium. Walking on Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row is an essential stop to get the sea views of Monterey. And an afternoon spent watching crashing waves at Pacific Grove kept us mesmerized.
Stunning Sights Driving The PCH
Our first planned stop along the way was to see the amazing Hearst Castle. We explored the grounds and did the Grand Rooms Tour. This gave us just a small taste test. Definitely a stop we will make many more times when we visit this part of California.
At the second stop we made, we saw the elephant seals lounging on the beach. All along the beach we saw these guys. But there was a dedicated viewing spot to park and walk. The elephant seals lazed and played as we watched. It was a fun stop.
The drive up Hwy 1 was stunning. There were pullouts along the way to look up and back along the coast. We never tired of this view.
Several times we stopped for highway cleanup work. We saw the large parts of the road that were still impacted by landslides. But the route was all open, if slow.
The sun was ready to set when we finished our drive along the PCH. We were happy we were not driving the wild twisty road after dark. But we were still excited when we got more sea views of Monterey when we arrived.
A Room With A View Of Monterey Bay
We checked into the Monterey Marriott. After a bit of discussion, we got the upgraded room that our Marriott Bonvoy loyalty status got us. It was a large suite with a patio. From the patio we looked out over Monterey Bay. It was certainly a great spot for the sea views of Monterey. And we got the most amazing pink sunrises one morning.
There were lots of spots close by to eat within a short walking distance. One day we could not resist a visit to Rosine’s Cake Shop for dinner. The portions were the typical massive size we found everywhere in the U.S. We took enough food back to the hotel for 2 more meals. But we could not resist the cakes.
It was an easy walk from the hotel to Fisherman’s Wharf. A local shop had bikes and eBikes for rent. Our you could take one of the pedi-carriages or a Sea Car.
We initially wanted to stay right on Cannery Row. But this spot was a great base to explore the sea views of Monterey.
Sea Views Of Monterey From Fisherman’s Wharf
No visit to Monterey is complete without a stop at Fisherman’s Wharf. We loved that view of the boats in the harbour.
The colourful shops drew us along the pier. We sampled clam chowder as we walked along the pier. It was hard to choose the spot for fresh seafood. But when we stopped, we had the best seafood lunch.
All along the pier we found shops selling whale watching trips. The signs outside showed recent sightings. We were less interested in going out just to see grey whales. Certainly we saw lots of those on our last whale watching stop in Monterey.
We walked around the pier to look at the sea views of Monterey. We heard the call of the sea lions but could not find them anywhere close to the pier on Fisherman’s Wharf or at Cannery Row. With a good zoom lens we found them out on a piling in the harbour. Certainly not the fun jumping sea lions we found on our last visit to Monterey.
As we wandered along Fisherman’s Wharf, we got great sea views of Monterey.
A Walk Along Cannery Row
We headed off to Cannery Row early one morning. All along the street we found interesting stores and restaurants. The iconic brands like Bubba Gump’s Shrimp were popular spots for photos. Interesting art drew our attention until it was opening time at the aquarium.
The sea views of Monterey are not the only interesting sight when you wander around Monterey.
Under The Seas At Monterey Bay Aquarium
When we visited Monterey the last time, we paid to see the special jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We were entranced for hours. But we rushed through most of the rest of the aquarium. So it was worth a return visit on this trip. We downloaded the app and scheduled our day to see some of the feedings.
As we wandered around the Monterey Bay Aquarium we saw a wide variety of different fish. Colourful aquariums showed off tropical fish and coral. The kelp room showed the fish that lived in the local kelp forests. Models of whales hung from the ceiling
And of course, we could not pass on a visit to see the jellyfish again. We were captivated as they moved through the water. The detail in their designs continued to amaze us.
And interesting indoor exhibit talked about the damage that plastics are doing to the seas. The exhibit included some interesting art pieces built from recovered plastic.
The outdoor decks were open. We checked out the sea views of Monterey. We still heard the call of sea lions. But we were unable to locate them.
There was lots to see when we wandered the Monterey Aquarium.
Feedings At The Monterey Bay Aquarium
Our first feeding stop was at the penguins. The penguins here were the African penguins (also known as Jack Ass Penguins for the sound they make). We had fun watching these penguins when we visited Cape Town in South Africa. As the crowds grew bigger around the exhibit, the penguins grew more active. They were ready for the feeding.
We next headed to the Open Sea feeding. Turtles and fish swam past in the giant aquarium. The actual feeding was from outside on the open deck. So we could only see it on monitors. Large swarms of sardines seemed to be safe from the giant fish. With plentiful food, the big fish did not seem very hungry.
The Open Sea feeding was less interesting than I expected. When we went to the theatre to listen to a talk about sharks, we wished that the facility still had sharks. It would have made the Open Sea feeding a bit more interesting.
We missed the sea otter feeding. When we first looked in the tank we thought the sea otters were away sleeping off their last feeding. But then a playful pair decided to entertain the crowd. This was a fun part of our visit.
We were glad we went back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to explore the under the sea views of Monterey. But we must admit that we felt a bit jaded. When we visited Osaka, Japan we spent a few hours in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan watching the amazing whale sharks and large fish in the vast central tank. It may have spoiled us forever.
Enjoying The Wild Sea Coast
The days in Monterey started off raining. But the strong winds seemed to blow the rain away. On our second day, we watched the surf pounding in on Monterey Bay. It looked like a good day for a drive to see the great coast views in California.
We headed south out of Monterey along the shore. The plan was to take in the views along the 17 Mile Drive. We had such vivid memories of the lonely cypress trees.
But we never made it further than Pacific Grove. At every viewpoint in Pacific Grove, the waves seemed wilder. We stopped and watched the waves crash. Until the view drew us on to the next point. We spent a few hours just watching the sea views of Monterey.
The skies darkened and we saw rain off in the distance. At times the sun broke through. It was a day to enjoy all that nature had to offer.
Great Sea Views Of Monterey From Above And Below
We enjoyed our return visit to enjoy the wild sea views of Monterey on our road trip along the California coast. There were lots of opportunities to catch views from Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row. The Monterey Bay Aquarium gave us a great view under the seas. As water babies, we felt totally at home by the sea.
From Monterey, we headed back inland. Our next stop was three days of wine tasting in Napa. The only sloshing sounds we heard in Napa, were the sound of wine swishing in the glasses.
Did you visit the wild seas of Monterey? Did you explore above and below the seas?
PIN To Pinterest:
Monterey area is one of my favorite places to visit especially the drive along the PCH. The city is filled with so much maritime and fishing history and I really love the spectacular marine museum there.
Noel, We are sorry we missed the marine museum when we visited. Especially since hubby is a navy guy! Linda
We went through all those amazing sights along PCH and in Monterrey in 2009. However, I was a newbie in photography. Your photos make me want to go back to try again!
Carolina, We have visited Monterey on every trip we have done in California. Always something to see. You should definitely head back! Linda
Your photos are so gorgeous!I miss Monterey. Such a cool town. I used to live in San Francisco so Monterey was a great get away spot. That is also where I had my first encounter with an Elephant Seal. I had thought the poor thing was sick and stupidly approached it. I had no idea they could rear up to such a height! Looks like the aquarium has a lot of new additions since 10 years ago too. Love the recycled rubbish art pieces. Thank you for the revisit to Monterey, now I want to go back!
Vanessa, I am glad I gave you a tease to return to Monterey. How great that you live so close that you can easily re-visit. I am glad I did not have a close encounter with an elephant seal. Must have been scarey! We love to visit Monterey whenever we are in California. Linda
I absolutely love the Monterey Coast. During the nearly 30 years I lived in the Bay Area I visited many times and never got enough of this area! Even in the most touristy parts I still had so much fun and the food was great! We explored much of the surrounding area and the wildlife is amazing, our favorite was checking out otters in Moss Landing.
Andi, So great to live close to Monterey and get to visit on a regular basis. We have returned whenever were are in California. I am sure there are great spots to explore from Monterey. Linda
It looks like you had a lovely drive. We’ve driven on the Pacific Coast Highway before, from LA to San Francisco. It was a beautiful drive. I loved watching the waves crash. I saw Ginger Torch flowers in one of your photos. I didn’t know they grew in the U.S. I’ve only seen them in the Caribbean before. If we ever go that way again, I will have to check out the Hearst Mansion and the Aquarium. Have you been to the Winchester Mansion? It’s pretty interesting.
Kathleen, I did not know that the flowers were Ginger Torch! I loved that touch of colour with the so blue skies and water. This is a great drive to make in California if you visit. I will have to add Winchester Mansion to my list of places to visit. Linda
This post made me so nostalgic for Monterey! I loved walking along Cannery Row – all the places to eat and drink and shop! Such a shame the aquarium didn’t live up to the one in Osaka – try the Atlanta aquarium if you get a chance – their whale sharks were amazing!
Hannah, I am glad this brought back great memories for you. We liked the aquarium. Always something new to discover. We will put the Altanta one on our “list”. Linda
I took a road trip from SF to LA along PCH. It was such an amazing trip and your post took me back! I love Monterey Peninsula and Carmel-by-the Sea is my favorite place on the West Coast. Such a lovely and idyllic small town. Pity you haven’t made it further than Pacific Grove. But, hopefully, some next time …
Thanks, Linda and David for bringing me back wonderful memories of the Monterey area.
Hugs from Croatia
Milijana, I am so glad this post took you back to your trip along the PCH. It is a trip we love to do over and over again. We stayed in Carmel on our list visit. But are sorry we did not get to go back on this trip. Hope you get to visit again. Linda
What a great trip you guys had. The view above and below the sea in Monterey are amazing. We too would love driving here and making multiple pit stops. Your pictures are beautiful and have made us curious to visit this place soon.
Suruchi, I do hope you get to visit this part of California. The coastal drive is stunning. So many things to see. Linda
Oh my gosh, I love Monterey. Not only because of Steinbeck, but mainly due to the move Alice doesn’t live here anymore. That was the reason I visited – and then I saw what a beautiful place it is. Love the whole area – and the aquarium is the nicest I’ve ever visited.
Renata, Monterey has a place in many people’s hearts. Many like you and I have visited many times. And keep going back. Glad to bring back the memories. Linda
wow great place and trip you have shared I really loves to visit there I never visited there but after read your Blog i will keep this place on first in my travel destinations to explore thanks
I am glad this blog post might inspire you to visit Monterey. Linda
This is one of my favorite areas of California. I love the elephant seals and have done several of the Hearst Castle tours. Monterey Aquarium is always a worthwhile stop, I get mesmerized watching the sardines swim in a circle
Sherianne, We too love visiting Monterey. It is a standard stop on our California visits. I know what you mean about the sardines being mesmerizing. Linda
Your pictures are amazing. I feel like enjoying Monterey through your lens and story. Just like you, I will also revisit the jellyfish in the aquarium. They are best performers for sure. The portion at Rosine’s is truly massive. I don’t think I’ve ever ate with a portion like that in Texas, where everything is bigger. Haha..
Umiko, We do love to stop in Monterey when we are in California. Always something new to discover. Linda