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Moss Landing is a tiny town on the Monterey Bay in California's Central Coast. Moss Landing is an often-overlooked destination that lies almost exactly halfway between Monterey and Santa Cruz, and while it does not have the amenities of some of the nearby towns, it offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and whale watching.



There is also a large slough, called Elkhorn Slough, to the north of Moss Landing.

Get in


By car


The majority of visitors arrive on the Pacific Coast Highway (California highway 1), which is the main road through the town. Dolan Road goes to the northern part of town, where the power plant is.

By boat


There is a harbor at Moss Landing, and it could be reached by boat from nearby towns.

Get around


Moss Landing is so small that you can easily navigate it by walking, although a car is helpful to reach nearby attractions like the slough and boat trips, which are mostly to the north of the town.


  • 1 Downtown Moss Landing, 8011 Moss Landing Road (Just off Route One). Moss Landing has a small downtown area with several restaurants and small stores.
  • 2 Elkhorn Slough, 1700 Elkhorn Rd. Elkhorn Slough is one of the largest tidal wetlands in California. The wetlands are home to over 700 species, including more than 200 species of birds, and visitors with binoculars are extremely likely to spot sea otters, seals and sea lions hanging out in the waters. Aquatic activities in the wetlands include kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, with visitors expected to stay 100 feet from all wildlife. There are five miles of hiking trails, with several lookouts set up around the shore; note that many areas are off-limits to protect wildlife. Elkhorn Slough (Q5364279) on Wikidata Elkhorn Slough on Wikipedia
  • 3 Moss Landing Community Park. Small garden area near the harbor.


A raft of sea otters in Moss Landing

Moss Landing is the departure point for several whale watching companies. Odds of spotting a whale are approximately 95%. Humpback whales are in the bay from March through December, gray whales migrate from December to mid-May, and blue whales are most often seen between July and August. Dolphins and orcas (killer whales) are present year round. Travelers should dress warmly as temperatures are typically 10°F cooler on the water, and those who are prone seasickness should take medication prior to setting off as the bay can often be rough (note that conditions are typically calmer in the morning).

Moss Landing is also a departure point for tours of The Elkhorn Slough. With otters, sea lions, harbor seals, and over 340 species of bird throughout the year on the migration path of the Pacific Flyway. The Elkhorn Slough offers amazing views of the wildlife.

  • Monterey Bay Eco Tours, 10932 Clam Way (leaves from Moss Landing Boat Works), +1 831 200-3454, . 9-5. 90 min cruise on the Elkhorn Slough viewing Southern Sea otters, harbor seals and other marine mammals as well as hundreds of bird species that inhabit the Elkhorn Slough. The fully electric custom catamaran glides quietly and cleanly through the waters. Children of all ages are allowed on board. Restroom on board and free parking available. $32-43 based on age.
  • 1 Blue Ocean Whale Watching, 7881 Sandholdt Rd, . If whales are not spotted visitors are given a voucher for a free return trip (orcas are counted as whales, even though they actually belong to the dolphin family). Most trips last about three hours on boats holding 49 passengers, and advance purchase is recommended. $30-50 based on length of tour.
  • 2 Sanctuary Cruises, 7881 Sandholdt Rd ("A" Dock). Whale watching is offered on a 43-foot, 39-passenger boat. If no whales are seen then the next trip is free. The company promotes its sustainable practices, with biodiesel used to reduce environmental impact. 3-3½ hour trips: adult $55, child $45; 2-2½ hour trips: $45 flat rate.



There are few small shops and markets in town, but no grocery stores or shopping malls.

  • 1 Phil's Fishery Market & Eatery, 7600 Sandholdt Rd, +1 831-633-2152. A seafood restaurant with an attached fish market, the Ciopinno has been featured on the Food Network. It is a popular place so expect crowds on weekends. It is primarily known for being a restaurant.


  • 1 Moss Landing Cafe, 421 Moss Landing Rd, +1 831-633-3355. Daily 6:30AM-3PM, dinner F Sa only 5PM-8:30PM. Known for their deep-fried artichokes, this cafe has attentive service and fresh food. They get high marks for their breakfast offerings, although their lunch and dinner selections are less exciting and focus heavily on fried foods.


  • 1 Surf City Coffee Company, 7990-C California 1, +1 831-632-2077. A specialty coffee roaster that also serves teas, juices, and pastries. Free WiFi is available for patrons, and there is a large produce stand located next door.


  • 1 Captain's Inn - Bed & Breakfast, 8122 Moss Landing Rd, +1 831-633-5550. A nautical-themed bed & breakfast with waterfront views. Rooms are uniquely decorated, have flat screen TVs, and a hot breakfast is served each morning. Additional amenities include cookies, feather pillows, and free WiFi. Eight of the rooms have fireplaces.
  • 2 KOA Campground, 7905 Sandholdt Rd, +1 831-633-6800. This campground accommodates self-contained RVs only. Campground amenities include electrical hookups, room for 60' vehicles, WiFi, cable TV, and firewood (additional cost).

Go next

  • Santa Cruz - large coastal town to the north of Moss Landing
  • Monterey - coastal town to the south of Moss Landing
  • Watsonville - town in the fruit-growing region inland from Moss Landing
  • Marina - town ten miles south of Moss Landing with some interesting nature viewing, parkland, and other attractions
Routes through Moss Landing
Santa CruzWatsonville  N  S  MarinaMonterey

This city travel guide to Moss Landing is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.