Beginning of main content

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find a spectacular window into life both above and below the waves.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium showcases more than 35,000 animals and plants across 550 species. You’ll discover all kinds of local wildlife here, including fish of all sizes, invertebrates, mammals and plants. 

The centerpiece of the aquarium is a three-story-high tank containing a towering kelp forest. Crane your head back and gaze up at the spectacle of wolf-eels, leopard sharks and schools of sardines gliding and darting through the swaying kelp giants. Visit The Open Sea to get incredibly close to enormous sunfish, hammerhead sharks, and blue- and yellowfin tuna. On the other side in the Oceans Edge section check out the Giant Octopuses. In the Rocky Shores exhibit, walk through a tunnel as waves foam and crash overhead. After taking in the larger exhibits, turn your attention towards one of the ocean’s more delicate creatures, the seahorse, in the Splash Zone.

Children will delight in the comical penguin troupes and the sea otters lazing about on rocky outcrops. Family members of all ages can touch and feed a variety of animals while learning about their habitats at the petting pools. 

The auditorium hosts shows throughout the day, most of which are 15-minutes long. Learn about the life of the spineless jellyfish or catch the daily feed with turtles, fish and sharks. Take a trip behind the glass with a short film detailing how the aquarium staff feed and care for all the center’s animals. 

Join a tour to get more deeply acquainted with specific species. A guide will show you around for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Kids aged 8–13 can get closer to the action with a dive tour, which includes basic scuba diving training. All tours require a fee in addition to admission costs and must be booked in advance through the aquarium’s website. 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the waterfront at historic Cannery Row, an area immortalized in the John Steinbeck novel of the same name. A five-minute drive from central Monterey, the area is also serviced by the Monterey–Salinas Transit (MST) bus line. 

The aquarium is open daily except Christmas Day. You’ll need about two to three hours to explore all of the exhibits. 

Popular Activities at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Like to make your time spent at Monterey Bay Aquarium even more special? Don't forget to try out a few of these things to do:

Why don't you think about purchasing a California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel and a Monterey & Carmel-by-the-Sea Explorer?

Take a look at our Monterey things to do page to find many more activities while you're here.


Guide to Exploring around Monterey Bay Aquarium


Trip Type
Flight 1
Flight 2
Flight 3
Flight 4
Flight 5

Search over 895,000 properties worldwide and 550 airlines worldwide.

Search over a million flights, hotels, packages, and more

No Expedia cancellation fee to change or cancel almost any hotel reservation.

Map

Lodging Near Monterey Bay Aquarium

See all 352 Properties near Monterey Bay Aquarium
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa $134
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey
     
    4.0
    of 5, from 5,341 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    After undergoing a $60 million renovation, this 550-room hotel and conference center is situated on 22 acres next to the 18-hole championship Pebble Beach Resort's Del Monte Golf Course, 6 blocks from the beach and 1 mile from downtown Monterey.

    InterContinental the Clement Monterey $151
    InterContinental the Clement Monterey

    InterContinental the Clement Monterey

    750 Cannery Row, Monterey
       
      4.6
      of 5, from 1,733 reviews
      4.5 out of 5.0

      Situated on the waterfront, this luxury hotel is steps from Cannery Row and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Fisherman's Wharf and Maritime Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).

      Spindrift Inn $189
      Spindrift Inn

      Spindrift Inn

      652 Cannery Row, Monterey
         
        4.7
        of 5, from 1,141 reviews
        3.5 out of 5.0

        On a stretch of beach along Monterey Bay, this European-style boutique hotel is less than 3 blocks from Monterey Bay Aquarium and a half-mile from Fisherman's Wharf and downtown shops.

        Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay $161
        Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

        Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

        Two Portola Plaza, Monterey
           
          4.2
          of 5, from 3,349 reviews
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Just 200 yards from Fisherman's Wharf, this resort borders Custom House Plaza, with the beach and sparkling bay just beyond; Cannery Row and the aquarium are a short walk away.

          Monterey Bay Inn $179
          Monterey Bay Inn

          Monterey Bay Inn

          242 Cannery Row, Monterey
             
            4.6
            of 5, from 1,176 reviews
            3.5 out of 5.0

            Anchoring the quiet end of Cannery Row, this waterfront boutique hotel is perched above Monterey Bay, with Fisherman's Wharf a quarter-mile away, A Taste of Monterey winery a half-mile away, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium within a half-mile.

            Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa $169
            Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

            Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

            400 Cannery Row, Monterey
               
              4.6
              of 5, from 2,256 reviews
              4.0 out of 5.0

              Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa sits right on the bay in the center of town, a 15-minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf and 2.5 miles (4 km) from Point Pinos Lighthouse. Carmel, Pebble Beach, and 17-Mile Drive are within a 20-minute drive, and golfers can choose from over 20 courses in the county.

              Wave Street Inn $149
              Wave Street Inn

              Wave Street Inn

              571 Wave Street, Monterey
                 
                4.5
                of 5, from 225 reviews
                2.5 out of 5.0

                Located in Lighthouse District, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Cannery Row, San Carlos Beach - The Breakwater, and Monterey Bay Aquarium. American Tin Cannery and Coast Guard Pier are also within 10 minutes.

                Best Western Plus Victorian Inn
                Best Western Plus Victorian Inn

                Best Western Plus Victorian Inn

                487 Foam St, Monterey
                   
                  4.3
                  of 5, from 1,616 reviews
                  2.5 out of 5.0

                  Less than a half-mile from Monterey Bay Aquarium and 1 block off Cannery Row, this Green Seal certified, family-friendly Best Western hotel is composed of a historic Victorian mansion and a modern boutique inn.