A June 2001 trip
to Monterey by g3
Quote: A visit to the Monterey Peninsula in central California is sure to please. Whether you are in search of pampered relaxation or multi-sport activities, the Peninsula has it all.
During my visit, I stumbled on a Farmers Market in downtown Monterey that apparantly occurs every Tuesday. The fresh fruits and vegetables looked delicious and street musicians provided entertainment. I found it a pleasant way to spend an evening and made a tasty meal out of foods from the variety of booths run by local restaurants.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 27, 2001
Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa
400 Cannery Row
Monterey, California 93940
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 3, 2002
Carmel Mission Basilica
3080 Rio Road
Carmel-By-The-Sea, California 93923
Attraction | "Point Lobos State Reserve"
I decided to pay the small entry fee to park inside the reserve, but the number of cars parked along the highway indicate that many people take advantage of the park's beauty for free. Being a visitor to the area, I didn't mind paying and like to support places of beauty, although, if I lived in the area I am sure I would spend a great deal of time here and would probably opt to park outside as well.
I parked at Whalers Cove and watched as a group of divers entered the water. Having the afternoon to myself, I decided to set out for a long hike and see as much of the area on foot as I could. I followed the North Shore Trail along dramatic coves with views across the bay and then connected with Sea Lion Point Trail. I could hear the sea lions long before I could see them and decided to sit and watch for a while in the aptly-named Sea Lion Cove. The park was relatively quiet since I was there on a week day, but the call of the sea lions attracted a fair number of people from around the park so I decided to look for a little more solitude.
I headed back to the north along Cypress Grove Trail with its groves of orange algae-covered cypress trees. A family of quail hunted along a fallen tree to the side of the trail, and lizards darted across my path. I could still hear the sea lions barking in the distance and watched as hordes of gulls and black cormorants circled an off-shore rock cluster. The sites and sounds of nature were awe-inspiring and I had the trail to myself as I continued on to Whalers Knoll Trail. Only occasionally did I pass someone else along the way, and the relaxed smile on their faces must have mirrored my own.
Eventually, I found myself at the historic Whalers Cabin, built by Chinese fishermen in the 1850's. It is now an interesting cultural museum with on-site staff and well worth spending a few minutes in.
For the better part of the afternoon, I had explored much of the north end of the park, but over half of the park remains for my next visit. Point Lobos is a national treasure and well worth a visit--but give yourself time to really absorb the remarkable quiet and panoramic views of this scenic paradise.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Highway 1 South Of Carmel River
Carmel, California 93923
Attraction | "Diving Butterfly Point"
We geared up at the car and then walked down a steep trail to the kelp-covered beach. The hike was tough in full gear, but the dive wasn't about to get any easier just because we were getting in the water. We had to swim out to the kelp forest, which meant backstroking against some strong surge and then crawling over kelp to avoid getting entangled. By the time we finished the 100 yard swim I was tired and needed to catch my breath before starting the dive. I was almost ready to descend when my DM, who was facing me, got wide-eyed and pointed over my shoulder. Not sure what to expect, I turned to see a whale only yards away and swimming toward us. I quickly pulled on my mask and went under. It was a female California Gray whale and she was accompanied by her calf! They came within 15 feet of us as they passed and then they were gone. A crew on a dive boat outside of the kelp started shouting and cheering for us and I joked that we could head back to shore since that was about as cool as it could get and there was no reason to actually dive.
We did dive, of course, and the kelp forest was magical. The water in the bay is cold, 55 degrees below the thermocline, but the unique life in this, the largest kelp beds in the country, made this a fascinating dive experience. The visibility was lower than that in tropical waters due to the nutrients and plankton in the water, which leads to the remarkable biodiversity in the area. Starfish of all shapes and colors, including a huge Sea Star, and abalone were abundant. My first cold-water ocean dive was probably the hardest I have had to work to get to a dive site. The whale alone was worth the effort, but the kelp beds and the amazing diversity of underwater life in our largest national environmental sanctuary made for a dive experience to remember.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 2, 2002
Butterfly Point Diving
northern tip of Carmel Bay
Attraction | "kayaking Monterey Bay"
The rental shop recommended a morning tour of the bay since the winds tend to pick up in the afternoon and can make paddling a challenge when heading back to the beach. Taking their advice, I was up early and on the water before 8AM, which was easy since the outfitter was literally steps from my hotel. At that time of the day, I had the Bay to myself; actually, while I was the only person on the water, I was anything but alone. Sea lions basked on rocks all along the shore, gulls drifted lazily on the morning breezes and rested on the water, and sea otters hunted for abilone for breakfast.
I paddled along the bay toward the open water and past Cannery Row and the aquarium. The sea lions were waking up now and several slid into the water to hunt breakfast as well. Every now and then one would appear near my boat, curious, maybe to say good morning. Regardless of their intent, they made my morning.
Since the primary reason for a marine sanctuary is to protect the life in it, kayakers are prohibited from getting too close to the animals. But no rules prevent curious animals from coming up to kayaks for a closer look. As I paddled toward the breakwater that is home to hundreds of sea lions and harbor seals, a group of five or six decided they wanted to have a little fun. They swam towards me and then submerged, only to surface moments later all around me. I only counted four and was wondering where the others were just as they answered my question by leaping out of the water right off the bow of my kayak and startling me out of my wits.
After several hours on the water with my new friends, I decided to head back to shore tired, hungry and thrilled with my morning's adventure.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 2, 2002
Adventures by the Sea
299 Cannery Row
Monterey, California 93940