We were driving down from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Monterey Bay Aquarium was our late breakfast stopover. We left at 7:30AM for Monterey Bay and wanted to beat the crowd especially for the free public parking space close to the Aquarium otherwise, it is just a bother.
We reached around 9:30 (found a relatively empty parking lot) and since we had bought our tickets online, the night before, so we just breezed along with the queue.
Once we were in, we could feel the buzz and the chatter amongst the kids and adults. It was so exciting! We decided to grab an exhibit map and planned our visit over a breakfast of Pepperoni Pizza (it’s a holiday!) and bottled juice at the Aquarium cafeteria.
When we started, the Sea Otter Feeding was about to start. But, we didn’t get a good view since we were at the “underwater” level and had to watch it live on the installed monitors as it happened above us. It was fun though. So it might be a good idea to note the event timings and find your way to the right spot for a better view.
As we made our way through the exhibits, it was like walking through a dream. The luminescent glow of the aquariums with the colorful fishes, some with funny features… swimming slowly, coming in close and zipping away was so much fun. I always loved aquariums, even as a kid. Who doesn’t?!
The Octopuses. This was one of the most amazing places in the Aquarium. And the most crowded. But, it was so, so enchanting. The blue water in the dark, dim-lit section with the lazily floating, wafting octopus family was something that anyone would keep looking at. I think there were people who didn’t know how long they were standing there… transfixed at the beautiful fluid blobs. Hah!
After this, we walked along and came across the Sandy Shore Aviary. The section was a recreation of the sand shore birdlife of Monterey Bay. Was really nice with the screeches and tweets of the birds. Quite lively.
And the Penguins! You can imagine how it may have been here. Kids and adults, all were all very animated and chatty looking at the penguins “doing their thing”. There was a splash area too here. And a “touch the exhibit” too. I think I saw a few adults waiting for the turn after the kids to touch the starfishes.
Finally, The Open Sea. This section was really something. The darkness lit by the blue of the seawater, gleaming, shifting was literally like stepping into some underwater kingdom. Truly awe-inspiring. And as you look up, you see a hammerhead shark swimming around in a massive tank (felt like a part of the Bay) sharing space with a Green Sea Turtle. The shoal of silvery fishes swam around in a dreamlike co-ordination clearing space for the bigger animals only to come back and cover them up completely. There was an Ocean Sunfish and a Pelagic Stingray too. People stood there. So did I. I had to be dragged away.
The Kelp Forest was a really cool place. Long, thin streams of kelp “hanging upwards” from the ocean floor with the fishes swimming though… it was really like being in an underwater forest. We were lucky to be there during feeding time. It was fun to see the scuba divers wave back at you. Hello from the other side? Haha!
It was an amazing Sunday at the Monterey Bay. We went in June, the wind was nippy and I was happy that I had my hoodie on till the bit we went into the Aquarium.
Loved the stop. My family and I had a great time. After lunch, we drove off for Los Angeles.