Monterey Bay Aquarium

What

  • Aquarium next to the Monterey Bay
  • Auditorium Programs on sea life
  • Family shows
  • Animal feeding programs
  • Tours and Adventures

More Info

  • Entrance fee is $34.95/adult, with discounted prices for students and senior members; credit cards accepted. Check out the current prices online.
  • When tickets are purchased online, they are valid for a one-time entry within one year from the date of purchase
  • Parking is in the garages nearby (Cannery Row Garage) is just a couple of blocks from the aquarium; fee is $15/day
  • Plan to spend at least 3 hours inside the aquarium
  • Restrooms available near the ticket counter and inside the aquarium
  • Cafes and gift shops available inside the aquarium

This was my second time visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the first time with a friend and the second time with my parents and in-laws. I certainly wouldn’t mind making another visit to bring my family and friends here because this place is just fascinating.

Tickets can be purchased in person or online or via phone; during both my visits I got them in person and the lines weren’t too long. At the entrance they hand over a map of the aquarium with the timings of special programs for the day. The special programs include Auditorium Programs, Feeding Programs, Family Shows, Tours & Adventures.

The placard displays at every exhibit are neat and informative. It is fun to look at the placards and search for the specific fish inside the exhibit. Some of the fish are so small that magnifying glasses are placed near the exhibits to help visitors find them. A few others are camouflaged among the plants, rocks or corals inside the exhibit.

My favorite exhibits are:

Kelp Forest

With a height of 28 feet, apparently, it is one of the tallest exhibits in the world! The Kelp Forest hosts a number of animals from the small Pacific sardines to the mighty leopard sharks. Watching the bat fish slide on the bottom surface of the tank and veering off the sand is a sight to behold. As the fishes swim close to the visitors, I couldn’t help but wonder what they must be thinking while seeing the crowd of humans around them.

Kelp Forest
Kelp Forest
Want to see more pictures? Click here.

Octopus

As we entered the Octopus arena, our eyes caught the sight of a humongous octopus! One of the aquarists was holdings its arms to feed it. The way the octopus expands and contracts its arms to swim draws one’s attention.

A giant octopus
A giant octopus

Touch Pools

This is my favorite part every time I visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is where you get the opportunity to touch amicable bat rays, sea stars, crabs, etc. Volunteers are always standing next to the touch pools to guide you and educate you about their dwelling habits. During my recent visit, the volunteer flipped a sea star and showed its stomach and how it normally consumes food through its stomach. The fascinating thing was at that point of time, the sea star was in the process of eating a tiny shrimp! Paper napkins and hand sanitizers are placed next to the touch pools.

Sea Otters

For some reason, I just love the way the sea otters look, rest on their backs with their bellies up, roll in the waters and eat the food from their pouches. I have seen them in the wild in several places and was excited about taking a closer look at these mammals in the aquarium.

Pacific Sardines

Just at the entrance to the Jellies section, a circular structure lit in deep blue offers a mind-blowing view of schools of Pacific sardines synchronously swimming in the same direction. No wonder the phrase “packed like sardines” makes sense.

Pacific Sardines

Jellies

This is perhaps a favorite for most people who visit the Monterey Aquarium. The translucent jellies could be clearly seen through the attractively lit water tanks. The aquarium hosts several kinds of jellies and a few of those look really captivating.

Puffins

The way the puffins dive up to the water surface look clumsy and one cannot help but laugh out aloud watching them

A puffin close to the glass enclosure
A puffin close to the glass enclosure

Seahorses

We were not even aware that so many species of seahorses even exist until we came here. The leafy sea dragons are camouflaged amongst the plants. The dragon pipefish looks like miniatures of snakes. Check out the potbelly seahorses with huge paunches. And the Pacific seahorses that are found only in the California coast. The dwarf seahorses had their tails amazingly tangled around the plants.

Seahorse
Seahorse
A camouflaged seahorse
A camouflaged seahorse
A teeny tiny seahorse
A teeny tiny seahorse

Tips

  • Check out the harbor seals and sea otters from the free telescopes in the Viewing Stations at one end of the aquarium
  • Parking on the streets is cheaper than parking in the Cannery Row Garage
  • The food inside the café is expensive with limited options
  • Use the map (the one they give at the entrance) as a guide to check the timings of the different programs and plan accordingly

Useful Resources

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply