Monterey Bay is a beautiful and marine-rich area that straddles the border between the rugged Central Coast and the Bay Area regions of California. The area was immortalized by the works of novelist John Steinbeck. The northern half is in Santa Cruz County and the southern half in Monterey County.
Santa Cruz County
- Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz is best known as a countercultural hub, with a fun bohemian feel and youthful vibe, and weekend tourist attractions like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a historic mission, and the dubious Mystery Spot. The beaches north and south of Santa Cruz are considered some of the more pristine areas of natural beauty in central California, and while conditions generally make them impractical for swimming, several are considered an expert surfer's cold cold paradise.
- Carmel - Carmel is a beautiful oceanside town that is home to the historic Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, several large beaches, excellent restaurants and an abundance of upscale lodging. It borders the iconic Pebble Beach golf course and is the entry point to the 17-mile drive and its dramatic ocean views.
- Monterey - Founded in 1770, Monterey served as the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico, was a bustling fishing port until the 1950s, and is now a major tourist destination. Attractions include a pier filled with seafood restaurants, a world-class aquarium, a harbor that is home to an enormous number of seabirds, sea lions, sea otters, seals, and other marine life, the historic Cannery Row, and opportunities for whale watching, kayaking, or other excursions into Monterey Bay.
- Pacific Grove - Located adjacent to the city of Monterey, Pacific Grove is a beautiful town that is home to the oldest continually operated lighthouse on the West Coast, and more Victorian homes per capita than anywhere else in America. It is also the northern gateway of the scenic 17-Mile Drive. The town's rocky coastline is filled with tide pools that are easy to explore, seals, sea otters and sea lions are commonly seen in the waters, and adding to its bounty of natural riches, in the winter thousands of monarch butterflies gather in a grove at the town's center.