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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

Would you like to make your visit to Monterey Bay Aquarium even more unforgettable? Remember to try out one or two of these activities:

When organizing your day out, you may want to think about purchasing a California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel and a Monterey & Carmel-by-the-Sea Explorer.

If you're chasing more options, peruse our Monterey things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Monterey Bay Aquarium


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Lodging Near Monterey Bay Aquarium

See all 436 Properties near Monterey Bay Aquarium
InterContinental the Clement Monterey $193
Reviewed on Apr 20, 2019
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InterContinental the Clement Monterey

InterContinental the Clement Monterey

750 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
     
    4.6 of 5
    4.5 out of 5.0

    Great service, clean rooms, spacious. Very quiet despite being on a busy street. Great location for exploring Monterey. Everything you would expect from a hotel of this quality. Great restaurant also. We would return.

    Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa $143
    Reviewed on Apr 17, 2019
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    Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

    Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

    1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA
       
      4.0 of 5
      4.0 out of 5.0

      Low water pressure. No central air conditioning noise from Highway 1

      Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa $190
      Reviewed on Apr 23, 2019
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      Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

      Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

      400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
         
        4.6 of 5
        4.0 out of 5.0

        An amazing stay at the Monterey Plaza. Luxurious and large accommodations. Service was impeccable. Beautiful grounds. Only complaint was there was no pool. Weather was warm so would have liked a quick dip.

        Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay $197
        Reviewed on Apr 20, 2019
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        Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

        Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

        Two Portola Plaza, Monterey, CA
           
          4.2 of 5
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Location is great. Beds are super comfortable. Staff is friendly.

          Monterey Bay Inn $189
          Reviewed on Apr 21, 2019
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          Monterey Bay Inn

          Monterey Bay Inn

          242 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
             
            4.5 of 5
            3.5 out of 5.0

            I love going back to the Monterey Bay Inn. Beautiful rooms, beautiful views and amazing staff. We couldn't ask for a better location, either. Walking distance to Cannary Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf and St. Carlos Beach in your front yard. Will always choose Monterey Bay Inn for ...

            Wave Street Inn $129
            Reviewed on Apr 14, 2019
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            Wave Street Inn

            Wave Street Inn

            571 Wave Street, Monterey, CA
               
              4.5 of 5
              2.5 out of 5.0

              Extremely easy check in and out friendly staff! Also got free treats and goodies:)

              Spindrift Inn $209
              Reviewed on Apr 18, 2019
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              Spindrift Inn

              Spindrift Inn

              652 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
                 
                4.7 of 5
                3.5 out of 5.0

                Great location and view of the bay very nice bed. Overall a very nice stay

                Best Western Plus Victorian Inn $139
                Reviewed on Apr 20, 2019
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                Best Western Plus Victorian Inn

                Best Western Plus Victorian Inn

                487 Foam St, Monterey, CA
                   
                  4.3 of 5
                  2.5 out of 5.0

                  I always enjoy staying at the Victorian Inn. I will be back.