Curving from Santa Cruz in the north to the Monterey Peninsula in the south, California’s stunning Monterey Bay is the perfect destination for wildlife fans, nature-lovers, food and wine connoisseurs, or anyone simply looking to relax in this gorgeous ocean-side setting.
Fisherman’s wharf, on the Southern end of Monterey bay
At the southern end of the bay the Monterey peninsula is the focus for many, with the Pacific surrounding it on three sides. Home to one of the best aquariums in the world, this is a draw in itself, with over 35,000 creatures to view very close up in soaring glass tanks in this former fish canning works on Cannery Row.
Visit the incredible Monterey Bay Aquarium
While the 30 plus exhibitions are spectacular and in some cases unparalleled (they exhibited a great white shark in 2004) if you prefer to see marine wildlife in their natural habitat head to the wharfs close by and go out to sea to spot humpbacked whales, dolphins, seals and otters.
A humpback whale breaching in Monterey Bay – Image courtesy of Sanctuary Cruises
Follow the coast round the peninsula towards Pacific Grove with its quaint Victorian buildings. Here begin one of the most beautiful drives on the west coast, the wonderful 17-Mile Drive, running through Pebble Beach to end in Carmel.
Play at the scenic Pebble Beach – Image courtesy of Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach is a golfer’s delight and the chance for any fan to tee off at world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links or Spyglass Hill shouldn’t be missed. The Inn at Spanish Bay and The Lodge at Pebble Beach offer perfect stop-offs for a meal too – or, if the golf needs more attention, excellent places to stay. The Lodge’s setting is enchanting, and spacious rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces and views to flowering gardens, ocean-side fairways and Stillwater Cove.
Once in Carmel-by-Sea relax and enjoy the European-style village atmosphere, perched above a picturesque white-sand beach. Stay in one of the pretty inns and walk to everything you need with performing arts and cultural activities to enjoy, as well as hundreds of independent boutique stores, restaurants and art galleries to explore.
Drive over the beautiful Bixby Creek Bridge
If the coastal drive has inspired you and you want to take in even more of the ocean’s splendour, venture south of Carmel to Big Sur, the 90-mile stretch towards Hearst Castle (though there are no specific boundaries and no urban centre). The views are breathtaking and drew writers like Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac, and a perfect place to stay and takes these in is Post Ranch Inn, set 1200 feet up in the cliffs.
Enjoy stunning vistas from the Post Ranch Inn
Featuring endless ocean vistas, an indulgent spa offering every treatment imaginable and an excellent restaurant, Sierra Mar, this is a place where you cannot help but unwind. Away from the water head to Carmel Valley for another perfect retreat at Bernardus Lodge & Spa, hidden away in 28 acres of rolling vineyards, orchards and gardens.
Relax by the pool – Image courtesy of Bernardus Lodge
Being affiliated to the vineyard makes for an extensive and excellent wine selection, and the food at its Lucia restaurant offers some of the best Californian country cuisine in the area, all with a sophisticated twist.
From luxury lodgings to ocean drives, breathtaking marine wildlife to some fine fairways, Monterey Bay and its neighbouring areas are sure to delight, and whatever it is you need for a perfect getaway, this small part of the California coast will certainly deliver. Book your private jet charter to Monterey Peninsula airport and arrive stress-free to this beautiful bay.
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