Outdoor Adventure Tour

Monterey is one of the richest ecological regions along California's central coast, as proven by the diverse species that call it home and abroad variety of options exist for exploring its natural bounty.

Many agree that a kayak is the best way to get up close and personal with Monterey's marine life. Rent a kayak for an afternoon or sign up for a guided tour of Monterey Bay or Elkhorn Slough with companies such as Adventures by the Sea, Kayak Connection and Monterey Bay Kayaks. It won't be long before guests come face to face with sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and shorebirds galore!

Other wildlife viewing options for groups include an Elkhorn Slough Safari, an exciting way to visit the Elkhorn Slough; a natural, calm water habitat that provides excellent opportunities to view and photograph wildlife up close. This two-hour boat cruise includes an in-depth look at various aspects of slough ecology, fascinating history and birding in the company of a naturalist guide. Guests can relax and enjoy a roomy, stable ride and refreshments on a 27-foot pontoon boat that departs from Moss Landing.

Landlubbers will enjoy renting a bike or four-wheeled surrey to pedal along the magnificent coastline. The 18-mile paved Monterey Recreation Trail stretches from Pacific Grove north to Castroville and offers unparalleled views of Monterey Bay. Several companies along the route rent surreys and cycles, including Blazing Saddles and Adventures by the Sea.

Another option -take a guided hike of the natural landscape. Big Sur Guides and Hiking leads hikes and walks that introduce guests to the unforgettable wildlife and geography of Monterey County. Or, for those who crave adventure, Sanctuary Rock Gym leads bouldering and rock-climbing expeditions among California condors at the Pinnacles National Park.

It's surprisingly easy to discover the destination on horseback. Numerous equestrian trails meander through diverse landscapes, from rugged mountain terrain to sandy beaches. Monterey Bay Equestrian Center provides rides on the beach or in a horse-drawn carriage.

For guests looking for an underwater view of the region's natural wonders, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary attracts SCUBA divers from around the world. Lured by the unique beauty of the kelp forests and underwater canyons, divers also appreciate the good visibility and safe conditions. Scuba Diving magazine has consistently ranked Monterey the best beach dive in the U.S. -Monastery Beach and Stillwater Cove in Carmel; Bluefish and Whaler's Coves at Point Lobos; Monterey State, San Carlos and McAbee Beaches in Monterey are also very popular beach dives.

The Monterey Bay also offers some of the world's best whale watching. Whales, dolphins and seabirds concentrate in the waters off central California to feed on an abundance of krill, fish and squid supported by prolific plankton blooms. Depending on the time of year (and viewing is available year-round), visitors can expect to see Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, Minke Whales, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Risso's Dolphins, Northern Right Whales, Common Dolphins, Killer Whales, Dall's Porpoises, Fin Whales, Harbor Porpoises, Bottlenose Dolphins and Beaked Whales. Local companies such as Monterey Bay Whale Watch and Monterey Whale Watching offer a number of whale watching options. Tours depart daily from Fisherman's Wharf and Moss Landing.

For guests who want an adventure on the open seat here are fishing charters that travel deep into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in search of albacore, cod, halibut, salmon and more. Randy's Fishing Trips and Chris' Fishing Trips offer sport-fishing charters as well as whale-watching excursions on the Bay. Or, for another hands-on experience, group sailing lessons are available through Monterey Bay Sailing. Take it one step further with a Sailing Adventure with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which allows guests the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of Monterey Bay first-hand as they work alongside Aquarium naturalists aboard the Derek M.Baylis, a 65-foot sailboat designed for ocean research.

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