Fishing and Whale-Watching
Whales pass quite near the shores of Monterey year-round. While you can sometimes even see them from the beaches, any number of boats can take you out for a closer look at the great beasts as they travel along their own special routes north and south.
The area hosts many humpbacks, blue whales, and gray whales, plus the occasional killer whale, Minke whale, fin whale, and pod of dolphins.
Bring your own binoculars for a better view, but the experienced boat captains will do all they can to get you as close as possible to the whales and dolphins. Most tours last 2–3 hours and leave from Fisherman’s Wharf, which is easy to get to and has ample parking. If you prefer not to rise with the sun, pick a tour that leaves in the afternoon.
Monterey Bay Whale Watch (84 Fisherman’s Wharf, 831/375-4658, www.montereybaywhalewatch.com) leaves right from an easy-to-find red building on Fisherman’s Wharf and runs tours in every season. (Call or check the website for schedules.) You must make a reservation in advance, even for regularly scheduled tours. Afternoon tours are available.
Monterey Whale Watching (96 Fisherman’s Wharf, 800/979-3370, www.baywatchcruises.com) prides itself on its knowledgeable guides/marine biologists and its comfortable, spacious cruising vessels. The Princess Monterey offers morning and afternoon tours, and you can buy tickets online or by phone.
If you’d rather catch fish than watch mammals, Randy’s Fishing Trips (800/979-3370, www.randysfishingtrips.com) can take you out for salmon, halibut, albacore, mackerel, rock cod, flatfish, and even squid and Dungeness crab in season. They can also take you out for a whale-watching trip if that’s your preference. Trips begin early in the morning and can last for several hours. You can bring your own food—catering is not provided—including a small cooler for your drinks.
If you don’t have a California fishing license, you can purchase a one-day license at the shop before your trip. While you can try to walk up to the bright teal-painted shop at Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s best to get tickets for your trip in advance; either call or buy online from Randy’s website.
Chris’s Fishing Trips (48 Fisherman’s Wharf, 831/372-0577, www.chrissfishing.com, $55–90/per person) offers both scheduled trips and boats for charter. If you want to go solo, get on one of the daily salmon or cod trips, which include bait and ice; tackle, a one-day license, and fish cleaning are extras.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition