The Monterey Bay Aquarium

If you love aquatic life in all its weird and wonderful shapes and colors and a visit to the Aquarium of the Bay on the Waterfront left you craving even more stunning exhibits, then a trip down the coast to Monterey Bay Aquarium is definitely the right thing to do. This extraordinary facility is less than two hours south of San Francisco and easily accessible from just about anywhere in the Bay Area. Since it opened in 1984, the aquarium has become one of the premier public aquariums in the world, with huge exhibits that showcase animals found in few other places, such as great white sharks, ocean sunfish and other sea creatures. The great whites are not always on display, as the aquarists release them back into Monterey Bay after a few months on exhibit in order to protect the viability of these important animals.

The facility is huge, with many different types of exhibits to see, and, in some cases, interact with via guest-controlled cameras they can use to customize what animals they see and how closely they see them. There are several touch tanks where guests can reach into the water, touch many different types of animals and feel the unusual textures that nature has created. There are dozens of volunteer interpreters stationed throughout the facility to answer questions, point out and explain especially interesting features and behaviors and promote free-choice learning while also ensuring that the health and welfare of the animals are protected.

Some of the more remarkable exhibits at Monterey Bay Aquarium include these:

  • A 333,000-gallon kelp forest exhibit featuring scores of different fishes and invertebrates and living kelp plants, which is the first place in the world that living kelp was put on display and kept alive.
  • A 1.2 million-gallon open sea exhibit featuring the aforementioned ocean sunfish, bonnethead sharks, sea turtles, vast schools of anchovies, mahi mahi, tuna and other pelagic species.
  • Rotating special exhibits featuring jellyfishes, seahorses, cuttlefishes, sailfin sculpins and many, many other types of aquatic animals.
  • A giant Pacific octopus exhibit featuring a very large octopus that may make you wonder who is observing whom.
  • Horseshoe crabs, sea slugs, penguins, otters, crabs, giant clams and a dizzying array of other animals.

As you might guess, it takes a great deal of money to keep all these animals and exhibits healthy, dynamic and attractive. Very generous donors support the aquarium, but the vast majority of the considerable overhead is covered by ticket sales. Adult admission is $34.95, and admission for children is $21.95. That price may inspire a wince initially, but those concerns are quickly dispelled by the time guests travel 50 feet in any direction. There are gift shops and dining options located at various locations, and make sure you step outside for a stunning view of the Bay. Simply put, this is a very special place, and a day may not be enough to enjoy all that this facility has to offer. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind experience that is truly memorable, set aside at least a full day to enjoy Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California. You will be very happy you did!