Families enjoy exploring the tide pools at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Residents of Monterey strive to protect the natural beauty of Monterey County.  By protecting the ocean, beaches, harbor and green space, Monterey has established many eco-friendly activities, such as exploring local tide pools, hiking open space preserves, or simply taking in the breathtaking beauty of our local beaches.

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Half Moon Bay (90 miles north) or Santa Cruz (40 miles north)


Andrew Molera State Park

Big Sur, Hwy. 1

Containing 4,800 acres, Andrew Molera State Park is located in the spectacular Big Sur Area. The Big Sur River runs through the park. Miles of trails wind through meadows, beaches and hilltops. Primitive campsites, popular with hikers and bikers, are located approximately one third mile from the parking area.

Birding in Monterey County

For a very detailed list of the best birding locations and organizations, please review tour page dedicated to bird watching.

Elkhorn Slough Foundation

Box 267, Moss Landing, CA 95039  (831) 728-5939

Elkhorn Slough harbors the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay. This ecological treasure at the center of the Monterey Bay coastline provides much-needed habitat for hundreds of species of plants and animals, including more than 340 species of birds.

Docent-led tours of the Reserve are held every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is also an early birding walk the first Saturday of every month at 8:30 a.m. For the kayak lovers, the reserve is absolutely wonderful! Click here to read how to protect the reserve and where to launch and land your kayak >>

Julia Pfeiffer Burns California State Park

Big Sur, Hwy. 1

The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. The park features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail.  A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1. The park offers Environmental Camping only. Located west of the highway a little over 1/4 mile from the parking lot, Saddle rock (No 1) and South Garden (No. 2) are the park's only campsites. Visit their Web site for additional information.

Monarch Grove Sanctuary

250 Ridge Rd, Pacific Grove, CA 93950   (831) 648-5716

Every October the migrating monarchs return to Pacific Grove to weather the winter months.  The best time to view the monarch butterflies is mid-October through mid-February at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA (831) 648-4888

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California offers visitors nearly 200 award-winning galleries and exhibits. Explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium web site to learn about ocean life, take a virtual tour of the aquarium or plan a visit.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

7700 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, CA  (831) 775-1700

MBARI's goal is to develop state-of-the-art equipment, instrumentation, systems, and methods for scientific research in the deep waters of the ocean.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

This site is dedicated to the preservation of Monterey Bay.

Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary Map

Monterey California State Beach

The beach is a favorite place for surfers and tide pool watchers. Fishing is popular, too. The cities of Monterey and Seaside share the park, which has three separate beaches approximately a mile apart.

Whale Watching –  Monterey, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay

Gray Whales – 20,000 Gray Whales pass by the Central Coast two times every year. During December through mid February, the whales migrate south from the arctic waters off the coast of Alaska to their winter birthing grounds off of the Baja Peninsula. Then from mid February through April, they return to the arctic waters to feed.  Peak viewing times are usually mid January and mid March.   More background on the Gray Whale >>

Humpback Whales – Spending the winter months off of the Mexican Coast to breed and give birth, the Humpback Whales migrate north to polar waters to feed during the summer months.  Humpback Whales are most common off the Central Coast from April through November.  More background on the Humpback >>


See also

State Parks & Beaches