The entire length of Cannery Row runs parallel to the coastline of the Monterey Bay, which means you’re never more than a few minutes from the water. This might be why Coastal Living magazine recently named Monterey as the “Happiest Seaside Town in California.” There are so many ways to enjoy the bay that it would be a shame if you didn’t try to tear yourself away from the shops and restaurants to get in some quality time with the Pacific. These are our top eight ways to get some sand (and some saltwater) in your shoes:
1. Take a Cannery Row kayak tour
Kayaking is hands down one of the best ways to see the bay. You can rent kayaks and paddle out on your own or book a Cannery Row Kayak Tour at Adventures by the Sea. The tour starts in the heart of the Cannery Row kelp forests and offers some up-close views of marine wildlife. You’re almost guaranteed to see otters, harbor seals and/or sea lions on this tour.
2. Scuba dive at San Carlos State Beach
San Carlos State Beach is located at the end of Cannery Row and is a popular launching point for scuba divers, as well as a peaceful place to relax in the beautifully landscaped green area. If you’ve always wanted to scuba dive, this is a great place to learn due to its clear sandy bottom and abundance of sea life.
3. Picnic at McAbee Beach
Stop in the shops for snacks, ice cream or clam chowder, and bring it down to McAbee Beach for a picnic with a view. This little beach is a family favorite due to its soft sand and beautiful sea glass that washes ashore. It’s dog friendly too, so bring the whole family out for a fun picnic in the sun.
4. Watch whales from the shore
California is one of the few places in the world where you can observe whales year-round, and there’s no better place to do it than the Monterey coast. On Cannery Row, you can spot whales offshore with the naked eye due to the great depth of the Monterey Submarine Canyon, which allows several different species of whales to come especially close to the shore to feed. April to mid-December is best for humpback and blue whales, and mid-December to March is best for dolphins and grey whales.
5. Go tide pooling
If you’re fascinated with marine life but don’t want to get soaked, check out the tide pools at McAbee Beach under the pier of The Fish Hopper restaurant. Be sure to check online first to find the times for low tide. Look for living sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, anemone, algae, barnacles, spider crabs and other fascinating plants and animals that live in this rugged natural landscape.
6. Ride bikes along the coast
The Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail follows the shoreline above Cannery Row and winds along the coast to Lover’s Point where a bike lane picks up along the Pacific Grove coastline. If you didn’t bring a bicycle, you can rent a variety of different bikes at Adventures by the Sea, including cruisers, mountain bikes, tandems and hybrids. Paths and bike lanes vary in difficulty from beginner to intermediate, depending on how far you ride.
7. Explore the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
The Monterey Bay is home to one of the nation’s largest marine sanctuaries, larger than Yellowstone and deeper than the Grand Canyon. It contains one of the largest kelp forests in the United States and harbors an impressive variety of marine life, including 34 species of marine mammals, 180 species of birds and more than 525 species of fishes. There are a variety of ways to enjoy this “Serengeti of the sea,” including diving, whale watching, tide pooling, fishing, boating and exploring local beaches.
8. Paddleboard the bay
If you’ve ever wanted to walk on water, this is about as close as you can get. You can rent stand-up paddleboards at Adventures by the Sea and even take lessons to help you get your sea legs. Young or old, this is an invigorating and enjoyable way to experience the bay in a whole new way.
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