I recently had my family to stay with me over from London. My Mum’s a wildlife artist so I made nature the focus of our excursions. Here are my top five marine animals and where you can spot them in the Bay Area.
- Sea lions: Numero uno has to be Pier 39 where hundreds of sea lions bask in the sun. If you want to check on how many there are before you visit, Pier 39 have hooked up a webcam, so you can see the sea lions from the comfort of your sofa. There’s also tons of other tourist stuff to do nearby. I love going around the bread factory in Boudins or catching a ferry across the bay to Tiburon.
- Sea otters: Have you ever seen a sea otter? I didn’t know they existed until I moved to the Bay Area. These guys are ridiculously cute. Seriously, it’s hard to resist the temptation to take one home as a pet. The best way to see them is to go to feeding time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We were also lucky enough to spot a wild one playing in the ocean from the Aquarium’s viewing platform.
- Whales and dolphins: Whales take your breath away. Now is the time to see them as they make their migration north. We did a tour with these people in Monterey. They’re marine biologists so they know their stuff. On top of the whales we saw hundreds of dolphins. They like to ride in the wake of the boat so they come really close. It can get a bit choppy so pack some anti-seasickness tablets.
- Elephant seals: Año Nuevo State Park is the place to see elephant seals. Up until the end of March you can watch the females giving birth. Make sure you book a ticket if you want to get close at this time of year. Even without doing the tour this is a beautiful place to walk and see wildlife. We saw garter snakes, pelicans and numerous sea birds.
- Jellyfish, octopus, penguins and much more: The Monterey Bay Aquarium is so spectacular it merits another mention. The giant red octopus and the jellyfish were the stand out exhibits for me. But make sure you allocate a whole day for this mammoth attraction – there are numerous weird and wonderful creatures from the ocean deep on display.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your binoculars, sun cream and some anti-seasickness tablets and go exploring!