We had read a lot about Monterey’s picture-perfect views that was an inspiration for John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row”; he wrote his novel based on the sardine canning industry in this waterfront town. Today, Monterey is most famous for the world renowned aquarium that houses giant kelp, largest open sea exhibit and an incredible collection of jellyfish. Travel magazines call this town a hidden gem; so we stayed in Monterey for two days to confirm this for ourselves!
To start off the tour of this little town, we rented the coolest scooter EVER from Sea Car Tours for a one-hour tour of the pacific grove coast and Cannery Row. Not only was the ride entirely too much fun, the views were simply unbeatable!
Armed with helmets and a quick instruction of the main controls, we were off to explore the town!
The scooter was a great idea to get acquainted with the town and find all the the beautiful stops we wanted to check out later. After the tour, we grabbed a bite in Cannery Row. There are lots of restaurants and souvenir shops, so take your time roaming through the area. We ate at Bubba Gump (do not recommend unless you like fried greasy everything) and grabbed dessert at Dippin Dots (best ice-cream ever). 🙂
The rest of our day was to be dedicated to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and sure, it may just be another aquarium…
The simple exterior of the building did not prepare us for the magnificent collection of ocean life that lay ahead…here are the highlights!
On entering the aquarium, we walked towards the centerpiece of the Ocean’s Edge Wing.
At a height of 28 feet holding 333,000 gallons of freshly sourced ocean water, the tank grows live California Giant Kelp giving you a rare look of the marine life by the coast
We were just in time for a show explaining California’s coastal marine life…live with a scuba diver in the tank! so cool 🙂
Visitors are able to inspect the creatures of the kelp forest on several levels in the building, and it’s definitely a sight to behold!
Next, we walked over to the largest tank in the aquarium (yes, even larger than the giant kelp tank). A whopping 1,200,000 gallon tank in the Open Sea galleries. This tank features one of the world’s largest single-paned windows!
This tank houses 3,000 anchovies (the fish that was once the foundation of Monterey’s economy) constantly swimming against the current within the tank. You could just watch them move forever! The tank also has at least six great white sharks and you can really see them up and close here.
Last but not the least – definitely one that I was MOST excited for – special exhibit of the jellyfish!
Open since March 2012, the aquarium has a special exhibit titled “The Jellies Experience“. The exhibit cost $3.5 million to build complete with psychedelic themed interactive displays and large tanks that include most species of jellyfish.
Watching these jellyfish swim and light up was a mesmerizing experience!
Completely overwhelmed by the magical experience of the aquarium, it was time to head back to the hotel.
The next day was spent admiring the views of Monterey Bay and the 17 mile drive at sunset.
Towards the end of our trip, and we can now form an opinion…
Monterey is truly a coastal gem and lives up to all the praise written about this pretty, happy town! This was one of the top highlights of California Dreamin’ 🙂
Hope you enjoyed reading!
xo, – A&A
Did you know? (fun fact and our next travel destination, perhaps!)