Best Snorkeling Beaches In Monterey Bay, California

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Located in California, Monterey Bay’s underwater ecosystem offers a diverse range of scenery and marine life to be discovered. There are several protected coves and shallow seas along its exquisite coastline that are exceptional spots to be explored with a snorkel. 

Monterey Bay is one of the many areas in California that are considered to be snorkeling hotspots. Rich ecosystems, diverse marine life, and beautiful scenery are all part of what makes Monterey Bay the ideal snorkeling location. Popular spots to snorkel include Lovers Point and Cannery Row.

Monterey Bay has no shortage of places to snorkel or dive, boasting thousands of square miles of ocean and 276 miles of coastline. Some of the most popular snorkeling destinations in central and northern California may be found here. Discover why Monterey Bay in California needs to be your next destination for a snorkeling adventure!

Snorkeling In Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay, located in the Pacific Ocean, is one of the country’s richest biological ecosystems and is teaming with marine life. As a result, divers, snorkelers, and swimmers alike get to see one of the world’s most prolific ecosystems.

To appreciate the beauty of Monterey Bay, you don’t need to be an experienced snorkeler or even go deeper than the surface. Snorkeling expeditions are available in several parts of the bay, allowing swimmers to enjoy the beauty of the aquatic environment with just a mask, snorkel, and a set of fins.

Snorkelers can explore the kelp forest and play with harbor seals while gaining sight of the bay from a new and thrilling point of view on a clear day with favorable sea and weather conditions.

The Pacific Grove Marine Gardens State Marine Conservation Area, the Lovers Point State Marine Reserve, and the Soquel Canyon Marine Conservation Area are among Monterey Bay’s marine protected areas. Each of these areas plays an essential role in the conservation of marine species and the development and maintenance of the maritime ecosystem.

What You Can Expect To See At Monterey Bay

The Monterey Canyon, regarded as a whole continental slope by geologists and biologists alike, is one of the world’s largest underwater canyons and is one of the breathtaking features of snorkeling in Monterey Bay.

This unique bay is home to a diverse range of marine life, including sharks, fish, elephant seals, sea otters, harbor seals, and bottlenose dolphins. There are even gray and humpback whales to be seen!

Fascinatingly beautiful creatures like squids, mollusks, nudibranchs, and a variety of crustaceans are among the smaller species that can be seen while snorkeling in Monterey Bay. The sighting of larger animals like seals, sea otters, and sea lions is almost guaranteed in the Carmel and Point Lobos State Reserve areas.

The kelp forest, though, is unquestionably Monterey Bay’s star. This was created by the different species of kelp that grow here, some of which may grow as tall as trees, providing tourists with stunning and one-of-a-kind scenery. It also provides refuge and safety for the marine life found there. 


The Best Snorkeling Spots In Monterey Bay

Overall, the state of California could be considered a haven for snorkelers. Monterey Bay, in particular, is a must-visit for anyone with a passion for exploring the ocean waters. To help you prepare for your next snorkeling adventure, here are a few of the best snorkeling spots in Monterey Bay that you should consider visiting:

Lovers Point

Locals and tourists alike flock to Lovers Point for snorkeling and diving adventures alike. This is one of the best places to go snorkeling in Monterey Bay since it also provides the exciting opportunity to watch otters.

At Lovers Point, there are plenty of grassy beds to hover over during high tide, as well as rock mounds to circle and playful harbor seals to greet. The most excellent days to see all the vibrant hues are on days where the sun is out and shining brightly.

Point Lobos State Reserve

Whalers Cove in Point Lobos State Reserve provides excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. Because it is a reserve, the area also offers fantastic opportunities to engage with nature, making Point Lobos State Reserve the best of both the ocean and land.

The seas are known to be a little clearer being south of Carmel, which is, of course, perfect for snorkeling. From the coast and launch ramp, there are numerous access sites. The cove is ordinarily calm and offers good protection from the ocean’s unpredictability. Wolf eels, starfish, sea anemones, and other marine species can all be found in abundance at Point Lobos State Reserve.

Cannery Row

Cannery Row is another must-visit spot for snorkelers. Between the Fish Hopper and El Torito restaurants is a little beach that offers a variety of activities. Within the canopy, kelp dangles like thick grasses, and the shoots reach into the darkness like a redwood forest.

There are many exquisite rock mounds near the Fish Hopper that are covered in kelp and grasses. The water is usually relatively shallow here, making it ideal for snorkelers with little to no experience. However, because many of the rocks are found in the shallow parts of the water, it is recommended that you only snorkel during high tide.

Cannery Row has beautiful kelp beds to swirl through behind El Torito. The sea is a little deeper here, and the tide is a little stronger, especially when it falls. Kelp disappears towards the shoreline where the rocks flow into the saline seas. Many sea creatures like eels, rock cod, and little pink starfish can be found here.

San Carlos Beach

Last on our “Best Snorkeling Spots In Monterey Bay” list but certainly not the least is the exquisite San Carlos Beach. The San Carlos Beach is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding and most popular snorkeling and dive spots in Monterey Bay, with a constant stream of students, snorkelers, and divers from all over the state. 

With plenty of opportunities to see a variety of fascinating macro-ocean creatures and maybe even some sea lions, San Carlos Beach is undoubtedly the perfect spot for a snorkeling adventure. 


By now, we are sure that you are ready and eager for a snorkeling adventure in Monterey Bay, California! One last important thing to make a note of is that the water temperatures here range on average between 40 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure to take along all the necessary equipment to keep yourself warm!

Consider a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium while you are in Monterey Bay.