Vacation in Carmel: Elkhorn Slough, Moss Landing, and Pacific Grove

Seagull on Monterey BayWhile hiking in Point Lobos, we asked one of the docents where we might be able to get good views of sea otters. She recommended a place called Elkhorn Slough, which she likened to an otter retirement community.

We drove around to the southern side of Monterey Bay to Moss Landing, and managed to find Elkhorn Slough with only a few misadventures.

I was absolutely delighted by the variety of marine wildlife here. There were at least a dozen sea otters, just paddling around in the water. It was particularly fun to watch a couple of them paddle (backward) approximately the length of a football field. The sea otters in Monterey Bay Aquarium don’t have that kind of space!

Just a few hundred yards away was a little beach that was being entirely monopolized by a colony of seals. There must have been several dozen hanging out on the beach, and a few of them playing and swimming in the water. They were almost as much fun to watch, though a little harder to see.

We walked around on the beach and enjoyed watching the numerous species of sea birds, as well as the waves crashing on the beach. It wasn’t particularly sunny, though, and it was a bit windy and chilly, so we didn’t want to bask on the sand.

Before we left, we drove to the other side of the inlet and watched the sea lions that had taken over a dock. There must have been about a hundred of them. They’re always so entertaining on a dock – they’re rolling over each other, grunting, etc. But it was really gratifying to watch them in the water – while clumsy out of the water, they’re really quite graceful when they’re swimming and playing in the water.

I really wanted to go kayaking today, and we really should have gone kayaking here. We would have been able to get an even more eye-level experience with the marine wildlife. We ended up not going kayaking at all, because the weather was so uninviting.

For lunch, we found a mom-and-pop diner called Moss Landing Cafe. It was very chill, pretty cheap, and the food was good (and filling!).

After that, we somehow ended up driving around the Monterey peninsula, and stopped at a few points in Pacific Grove. We saw cormorants, a couple of lone seals, and numerous Marine biologists. A pair of them were tracking a sea otter; another was a guy sitting with his dog in his pickup/office.

Then – the best part! – we saw dolphins out in the water! Maybe they were porpoises – we’re not experts. But it was still pretty cool to watch the pod make its way around the point of the peninsula, then disappear.

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