Complete guide to Monterey Bay Aquarium, California

Clear blue water, colorful fishes in all shapes and sizes moving rhythmically, soothing music playing in some corner. A perfect recipe for relaxation, isn’t it? Visiting Monterey bay aquarium was like immersing yourself into the beauty of the underwater world.

I had earlier visited Sea Aquarium in Sentosa, Singapore and The grand Aquarium in Ocean Park Hongkong, but all these Aquariums are unique in their way.

Our Journey to Monterey Bay Aquarium

We drove from Saint Mateo to Monterey bay on a pleasant Saturday morning. After an hour or so of Scenic drive, reaching the Cannery Row felt like landing in a place right from the set of classic movies. Street lined with beautiful row houses, most of them now converted into boutiques or restaurants.

It was early morning and the Aquarium was not very crowded. While strolling through the first floor, we came across a tall, yellow kelp forest, which looked artificial at first glance. But turned out to be the world’s tallest 28ft real kelp forest in an Aquarium, providing habitat to various creatures. Suddenly a mass of Sardines swarmed by, flashing the silver glow as they move and then there were sharks, rays and many more. It felt like we are diving and swimming on the ocean floor. But what caught our attention was scuba diver inside the window, feeding the fishes and interacting with the young explorers at the same time. My already mesmerized 4-year-old curious kid, who is a great fan of sharks was even more excited.

Kelp forest- Monterey
Monterey Bay Aquarium, California
exhibit 4- Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium, California
Monetery bay Aquarium
Overlooking the Pacific Coast
View from Monterey Bay Aquarium
View of the Bay, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Are you curious to know more about this amazing Aquarium?

Here’s, a complete guide to Monterey Bay Aquarium, California. It has all the information you need, to plan a fun-filled family trip to Monterey Bay.

Monterey Bay Aquarium 

Did you know, that the inspiration for one of the popular Disney Movies “Finding Dory” came from Monterey Bay Aquarium?

Known for its regional focus on the marine habitats of Monterey Bay, especially kelp forest and animals like sea otters, the Aquarium receives more than 2 million visitors every year. With over 600 species of plants and animals, Monterey bay is one of the world’s most renowned aquariums.

Exhibit 4- Monterey bay Aquarium
Nemo & Dory – Monterey Bay Aquarium

Location: Situated in the historic Cannery Row in Monterey county, which was once a working district for canning fish. Today Cannery Row is a happening spot for shopping, dining, and nightlife. Monterey Bay is 85 miles from San Francisco and 270.79 miles from Los Angeles.

Monterey Bay town
Cannery Row, Monterey Bay

How to reach Monterey Bay Aquarium

By Air: Monterey Regional Airport is the closest airport. Other airports include Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), located 60 minutes; and San Francisco International Airport, located 2 hours from downtown Monterey

By Train: Coast Starlight train has a daily route between Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles, via Salinas. Free bus service is available from Salinas to Monterey, a 30-minute ride.

By Road: There are two routes to Monterey by car.

1)    Highway One:  runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles ( Also popular as the big Sur drive offers a breath-taking view of Pacific coastline.

2)    Highway 101: runs down the valley corridor runs through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, on the West Coast of the United States

Timings: Aquarium remains open from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm

 Entry Fee : Adult( Age 18-64): 49.95 $

                    Youth (Age 13-17): 39.95$

                    Child (Age 5-12 ) :  34.95$

                    Senior (Age 65+) : 39.95$           

 How much time is enough to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium? 

Monterey Bay Aquarium is spread over two floors and it can easily take half a day ( 2-3 hours). If you are visiting the Aquarium with kids or planning to attend activities/shows,  then you can plan to spend the whole day here.

Young explorer- Monterey Aquarium
Curious Explorer, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Kelp forest- Monterey Bay
Kelp Forest -Monterey Bay Aquarium 

Interesting Exhibits & Highlights

All the exhibits in the Aquarium are spread over 2 floors.

Monterey bay Aquarium- Floor 2
1st Floor Map, Source: Monterey Bay Aquarium website
Monterey Bay Aquarium- Map
2nd Floor Map, Source: Monterey Bay Aquarium website

Level One

Sea Otters: Level one features the popular sea otters. These animals are orphaned and could not survive on their own in the natural settings.

Kelp Forest: With the height of 28 ft, the underwater kelp forest is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. Here, you can enjoy the diver’s eye view of the ocean including the fishes like sardines, leopard sharks, wolf eels and a large variety of other fishes.

Monterey Bay Habitat: over 90 feet long exhibit highlights five different habitats beneath the bay.

Sandy shore & aviary: This section showcases a variety of marine birds under their natural settings, the touch pool also allows you to touch the back of the bat ray and many other marine plants

I viva Baja: The life on the Edge, as the name suggests this special exhibition features creatures from the coastal habitats of Baja California. Life here thrives on the edge of sand and surf.

Feeding area- Monterey Aquarium
Sea Otters, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Corals-Monterey Bay Aquarium
Corals, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Level Two

Level two features some cool and interesting exhibits like

Open sea: This is one of the Aquarium’s largest exhibits, with a 90 ft window displaying the rhythmic and soothing movement of creatures under the sea. Here you can spot giant sea turtles, rays, sharks, swarms of sardines among the many other interesting sea creatures. 

Jellyfishes: The collection of jellyfishes in the Aquarium is just astonishing. Watching these delicate creatures glide effortlessly is a soothing experience.

Tentacles: Include some of the interesting and most diverse sea creatures octopus, squids, etc.

Splash Zone & Penguins: Exhibits African penguins, these birds are the part of a Species Survival Plan for endangered African penguins. 

Jelly fish, Monterey Aquarium
Jellyfish- Monterey Bay Aquarium
Exhibits 6- Monterey Bay Aquarium
Corals, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Few Tips :

  1. Avoid visiting the Aquarium during weekends for obvious reasons
  2. You can carry water and snacks inside the Aquarium
  3. If you are planning to visit the Aquarium for a full day, you are allowed to step out for lunch and then come back again with the same ticket.
  4. Aquarium has some restaurant and café inside
  5. Do check on the show and feeding session timings and plan your visit to different exhibits accordingly.
  6. Wear comfortable shoes as long-standing hours can be tiring
  7. A Walking tour of Cannery row and Monterey downtown is highly recommended.
  8. Purchase tickets online to avoid long queues.
  9. Aquarium also has a play area for children

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Complete guide to Monterey Aquarium

Complete guide to Monterey Aquarium ,California

45 thoughts on “Complete guide to Monterey Bay Aquarium, California

  1. Beautiful! I’m from California but I still need to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow!!!!!…..this place is mindblowing… very fond of aquariums and fishes…..will surely visit this beautiful place soon….

  3. I’ve always found it very hard to enjoy aquariums as i prefer to see aquatic animals in the wild, how did the animals look? Well taken care of? 🙂

  4. It’s definitely been a while since I’ve been to an aquarium, but this places looks very educational for children. 🙂

  5. I grew up on the Central Coast and my family used to visit this aquarium frequently. It was one of my favorite places, but I haven’t been since childhood. Thank you for the memories! Glad your family enjoyed the aquarium, as well. Absolutely stunning photos.

  6. Wooow this aquarium looks amazing. The views overlooking the bay are quite beautiful as well! Would absolutely love to visit.

  7. Amazing content.. Beautiful yet informative too😊😊😊 Thanks for sharing 😊😊😊 It’s helpful 😊😊😊

  8. This looks amazing! I love aquariums, have never been to this one before but it looks so beautiful 🙂 love your photos!

  9. Hey Madhu..the blog is really comprehensive. Love how you broke down the information in a format which is easy to understand and follow. Keep writing!

  10. Lovely pictures Madhu. The jellyfishes look amazing. For sure a complete guide for the travellers.

  11. What a post ! Beautiful pictures and amazing write up. Your blogs are always compelling to visit places.

  12. Wonderfully described!😇you make it sound so beautifully it makes me want to hop on a place right away🇺🇸

  13. Aren’t the otters there the BEST? We probably spent 20 minutes just staring at those cuties.

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