Fantastic scenery, marine life aplenty is what makes Monterey Bay the right kind of stay.
The coastal beauty of seaside town Monterey Bay may as well be California’s worst kept secret. This quaint old fishing village is now a hot-go to destination thanks to the immense success of the drama series ‘Big Little Lies’ featuring the charming seaside town as its backdrop. The town doesn’t need to rely on its Hollywood appeal as it boasts its own star attractions – wildlife spotting, a lively pier and seafood restaurants.
Monterey Bay makes for a perfect pit stop for any Californian coastal road trip, located two-hours south of San Francisco and along the famed 17-Mile Highway (a scenic route hugging the Pacific Coast and just shy of the Big Sur).
To enjoy a lazy day under the sun, head to the area’s most famed sandy playground, Carmel Beach.
To get your tourist cap on, set your sights on the colourful Cannery Row. What was once the former site of many sardine can factories is now the area’s premier entertainment and shopping mecca. Located in New Monterey, the buzzing strip runs parallel to the coastline and features 25 restaurants, wine tasting experiences and boutique shopping options. The strip’s star attraction is its world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, giving you access to witness the splendour of its colourful coastline residents.
Eat & Drink
Catch the catch of the day from the places that know how to toss a seafood meal together.
Monterey Fish House is a much-loved local favourite. Not just any regular seafood restaurant, the fish is prepared using an “Oak Grilled” treatment, giving the fish a distinct flavour. Alongside its freshly caught seafood dishes include pasta (crab ravioli, anyone?).
If you seek quality food on a shoestring budget, do yourself and your wallet a favour by heading to La Bahia Mexican American Cuisine. This family-run restaurant offers an inviting ambience while serving up generous portions. A short stroll from Cannery Row, its authentic flavours have wooed locals for years with its homemade chips and salsa and tortillas. Let your palate have a flavour fiesta with downing it all with a Margherita cocktail – responsibly, of course.
Be entertained playing wildlife bingo with Monterey Bay’s coastal residents.
Humpback whales are regulars to the area, making California one of the few places in the world that attracts whales year-round. Several tour companies are offering whale-spotting trips without a giant price tag and all at competitive prices.
The wildlife doesn’t just stop with the big fins. Spot Monterey’s other famed residents, Californian sea lions and seals can be sighted at popular tourist spots, Fisherman’s Wharf and Coastguard Jetty, and along its rocky coastline. Both animals are plentiful and active (especially when it comes to racing each other up the shore) and make for an entertaining watch from a decent distance.
Monterey’s furry mascot, sea otters can also be sighted at Fishermen’s Wharf, Cannery Row, Lovers Point Park and Beach and Point Lobos State Reserve. With an abundance of marine wildlife spotting’s, your David Attenborough-style critiques of these cute marine animals will go into overdrive!
Feel the ocean breeze sweep into your room by treating yourself with a stay at the waterfront, Portola Hotel & Spa. This 4-star hotel ideally located moments away from the historic Old Monterey, shopping and dining options and its striking, rocky coastline.
The hotel’s sizable rooms have a nautical touch, smartly furnished with a window wall of white-shutter blinds and wooden furnishings. A highlight is the rooms’ balconies, a comfortable spot to soak up the winds and enjoy the fresh Pacific Coast air.
The maritime theme continues as the bathroom’s boast sea appeal with its navy blue walls, white-tiled shower and classic-style marble-topped vanity.
In the morning, upgrade your Monterey Bay stay to having a European-style buffet breakfast at its restaurant, The Club Room. It is perhaps known as one of Monterey’s most popular breakfasts spots due to treating happy hour as a morning ritual with the inclusion of its daily bottomless Mimosas. Cheers to that!
If eggs get you going in the morning, you are in for a spoilt treat! The Club Room’s omelette station serves up portions that almost resemble yellow mountains stacked on your plate and loaded with ingredients of your choice.
Portola Hotel & Spa – 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey, CA 93940