Monterey, California and Monterey Bay
Full of history, excitement and fun, Monterey is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, historic Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, the Monterey State Historic Park & Maritime Museum, Monterey State Beach, whale watching boat rides and other aquatic activities.
Monterey Bay is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which stretches from north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Cambria in the south.
The picturesque city of Monterey offers a abundance of activities, sights and adventurous expeditions all year ’round. With a population of about 30,000, Monterey resides on California’s idyllic central coast amidst a large and unique marine ecosystem. Monterey Bay seems to be the focus of or have an impact on every experience in Monterey.
Fisherman’s Wharf and Municipal Wharf II
Fisherman’s Wharf, once a major Pacific port filled to the brim with sardines, today is home to the hustle and bustle of tourist activity. Today the Wharf offers whale watching, fishing trips, glass bottom boats, a theatre, unique stores and excellent dining fare.
Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf has been in existence for centuries, importing and exporting fish, wine and fine clothing. Monterey officially bought the Wharf in 1916; by 1920 the Wharf was home to 20 fish outlets. The Wharf expanded in 1934 to meet the growing fishing demands, with a breakwater extension.
As the sardines in the area died out in the 1950s, Fisherman’s Wharf switched gears. The Wharf found a new life amidst restaurants and stores, boat rental businesses, and fish markets. A small marina was completed in 1960, with an extended protective sea wall.
The nearby Municipal Wharf II, which was built in 1926, is home to several wholesale fish companies and a commercial abalone farm. There are also restaurants a snack bar and public rest rooms on the Municipal Wharf II. Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club has a private dock here.
A 700-foot fishing promenade extends from the wharf and anyone may fish from the East side of the Wharf—no licence is required for sport fishing from a public pier or wharf in California. Pods of sea lions gather around the pier and frolic on nearby docks.
Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail (Monterey Bay Coastal Trail)
The Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail (aka Monterey Bay Costal Trail) is a regional shoreline pedestrian/bicycle trail which begins in Castroville and passes through Fort Ord, Sand City, Monterey and Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach.
In Monterey the coatal trail passes the Monterey Bay Aquarium and is popular with joggers, skaters, walkers and cyclists. Local bike rental shops provide 2-6 passenger pedal surreys several friends or a family can travel together.
It’s about a half an hour walk or five minute drive from Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey to Cannery Row, the renowned subject of John Steinbeck’s novel with the same title.
Once famous for the sardine canning industry with its colorful characters, today historic Cannery Row has gone down the same picturesque tourist road as Fisherman’s Wharf. Besides shops, clubs and pubs, there are also sailing and boat rental places, as well as hotels.
Monterey State Beach and San Carlos Beach Community Park
San Carlos Beach Community Park, once the site of the old San Carlos Cannery, is now a premier dive-park and community park.
In the 360° panorama above divers prepare their equipment near their cars then enter the water next to the pier as children play on the beach while parents watch from picnic tables and benches.
Monterey State Beach is a favorite amongst fishermen, surfers and tide pool aficionados. Monterey and Seaside share the park, which has three separate beaches in total, and is home to beachcombing, kayaking, kite-flying and volleyball. The underwater area is perfect for scuba diving. The beach is at the Seaside exit off Hwy 218 west of Hwy 1 (the west end of Canyon del Rey Boulevard).
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) was designated in 1992, as a federally protected marine area, spanning from Marin to Cambria. It is the U.S.’s eleventh Marine Sanctuary, as well as the largest protected area with over 5,300 square miles.
The MBNMS is involved in resource protection, research, education and public use, encouraging partnerships and strong public involvement. With about 33 species of marine mammals, 94 species of seabirds, 345 species of fishes, and numerous invertebrates and plants, Monterey Bay is home to a very diverse aquatic community. Monterey Bay also offices a spectacular coastline, sporty aquatic activities, like kayaking, and an extensive array of hiking trails.
The Sanctuary evaluates the status and health of marine species, habitats and ecosystems, provides information to resource managers, and coordinates activities. The Sanctuary also uses a variety of ways to reduce or prevent detrimental human impacts.
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary extends from Rocky Point, 7 miles north of Golden Gate Bridge to Cambria, San Luis Obispo County—276 statute miles of shoreline. The Sanctuary’s shoreward boundary is ‘mean high tide’ and its seaward boundary is an average of 30 miles offshore for a total of 5,322 square statute miles or 4,024 square nautical miles.
This huge area includes numerous historical sites: 1,276 reported shipwrecks and 718 prehistoric sites. The deepest point of the MBNMS is 10,663 feet or 3,250 meters in the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon. Average ocean surface temperature is 55F (13C).