Located on the site of a former sardine cannery on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Monterey Bay Aquarium features an 8.5 m (28 ft) viewing tank that was the first in the world to grow giant kelp. The aquarium also holds thousands of plants and animals representing more than 600 different species. You can inspect the creatures of the kelp forest from several levels in the building. Visit the largest tank in the aquarium--with one of the biggest single-paned windows in the world--for a rare chance to observe a population of ocean sunfish in captivity. Other highlights include exhibits of stingrays, bluefin tuna, jellyfish, and sea otters, viewable from above and below the waterline. For Monterey Bay Aquarium and beyond, use our Monterey driving holiday planner to get the most from your Monterey vacation.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Tours
Monterey & Carmel Explorer with optional Aquarium BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $94
Duration: 14 hours
Private Full-Day Tour of Monterey with Carmel and 17-Mile Drive by SUV BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $895
Duration: 10 hours
Monterey Bay Aquarium Reviews
This was our first time going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and it was very cool. The sea otter, mini African penguins and the jellyfish were our favorites. This aquarium especially great for children ... more »
Attractive, comfortable and professional organization Your attention will be focused on the exhibitions; yet realize you are in a facility that is well-designed for maintaining your interest and excit... more »
Remarkable aquarium experience. Located in the heart of the Monterey tourist district among all the shops selling stuff only tourists would buy, or eat. Very well curated displays providing informatio... more »
Really well executed aquarium. The otters are a big draw but the observation decks on the bay give you a chance to see sea lions, birds, and other animals in the wild. The jellyfish exhibit has to be amongst the best I've seen and I've been to at least 4 aquariums. The restaurant was good. My wife and I had a big lunch for about $40. There's ample parking in the area but we parked in the lot about a block away for $15 (all day).
My first impressions when arriving to this aquarium: There was a lot of traffic (when we were there) and very little parking on the streets. However, I believe there are parking garages nearby but we didn't use nor see them. Upon entering: The overall experience of seeing different marine life is pretty cool. It reminds me of a museum where you observe a window and there are fact boxes that give some information on the fish. Many of the viewing areas are medium sized (think the size of a single door) glass windows that make it kind of hard to view when there are over about 20 people per window. But when you do get a chance to observe, you can see the fish in great detail and up close. There is one area where the viewing window is as tall and wide as a two story building. It feels like you were submerged deep underwater with thousands of fish! Didn't get to see any of the shows but there are a few if you don't go to the aquarium towards the end of the day. But overall, I'd go again and maybe catch a show or two. Courtesy tip: if there are over 20 people trying to view the same window, please observe the wildlife, take a picture (or short video), and leave if you are in the front. I spent on a few windows about 10-20 minutes waiting for people to finish their conversations and taking excessively long videos (documentary length) of fish swimming.
A beautiful aquarium where you can spend a relaxing day with loved ones. The staff was so helpful throughout the visit and we loved the excellent exhibits throughout the property. Lots of great spots to take photos and there were ample activities going on throughout the day (otter feedings, lectures/videos, divers going into tanks). Though pricey, Monterey Bay Aquarium delivers in so many ways and we had a blast. I highly recommend it for families and those who are young at heart.
Tickets : Buy tickets online, you skip the entrance queue and get direct admission with an online ticket. This saved us a lot of time on Sunday during summer holidays. The tickets are multiple entry (for the day) so you can come out for lunch to Monterey downtown which is right outside the aquarium and get in again. A lot of hotels in Monterey offer 2 day tickets for the price of 1 if you stay with them. Parking : Ample of road side parking around aquarium for $2/hour with a max limit of 3 hours, but then you need to reach early. We found open parking lot opposite to aquarium for $10/day. The jelly fish here are incredible, I had never seen a real jelly fish before and it was so amazing. It gets crowded on weekends especially during summer school holidays. So the key is to reach here early between 9 and 9.30 am to beat the crowd. They have shows and events every 1-2 hours, surface water scuba diving for kids, animal feedings - see them feeding penguins, sea otters - that last 15 minutes each and auditorium that plays short films. You need about 3-4 hours to see the entire place but you can easily spend the entire day. We went with our little 3 month baby and they have nice nursing rooms for breastfeeding, my wife was really happy to see those.
World class aquarium, fantastic people, great environment and great programs. Breathtaking! A must see! The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the big draw attraction for this area of course. The exhibits are wonderfully executed and I was taken with just how friendly the mostly volunteer staff was. You could not walk by one of them without receiving an offer of help and sometimes a great local story. Even the view of the bay from the outside decks was amazing and I could have sat there for hours. Plan to stay most of the day so you can attend the scheduled talks and feeding demonstrations while still taking your time to see all the rest. Some of the exhibits have multiple viewing areas on more than one floor, it's a good idea to see them from both vantage points as you will notice different things from the different areas.
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