Walkabout the Monterey Bay

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
~ Gandhi

Who has stood on a beach that stretches all the way to the horizon and not felt a primal longing to 10474464300?profile=originalwalk, perhaps all day, to see how far it goes, to explore that region where sea meets shore?  Satisfy that yearning on this 37-mile, four-day hike on the edge of Monterey Bay.  The protected waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary teem with ocean and bird life.  You’ll hike pristine beaches and have miles all to yourself.  Enjoy unique inns and great dining.

Start this walkabout at Capitol Village with its joyful beachside inns, restaurants, and taverns.  Then set out for an 8.7-mile stroll along a series of state beaches – New Brighton, Seacliff10474464500?profile=original, and Manresa.  The sand is firm and flat, ideal for hiking.   Thousands of birds feast in the Pacific and along its shore.  Marbled godwits, curlews, and willets with long skinny beaks roam the shore on tall spindly legs, probing the bubbling sand behind receding waves for small mollusks and crustaceans.  Groups of comical, tiny sanderlings scurry to the water’s edge to pick up a morsel before racing inland to avoid the next surge.  Hundreds of pelicans put on a show, diving for lunch while gulls swoop in for scraps.  You may spot sea 10474464663?profile=originallions, pods of porpoises, and migrating whales.

Hike 12.1 miles of quiet shoreline on Day 2, arrive in Moss Landing, and be delighted by the whimsical antics of the sea otters who relax and play in the harbor.  Stay at Captain’s Inn where you can watch birdlife in the marshes from your bedroom.  Spend an extra day and rent a kayak or take a pontoon boat to explore Elkhorn Slough, one of the best places for wildlife viewing on the West Coast.10474465661?profile=original

Day 3 (7.3 miles) and Day 4 (9.0 miles) continue along the beach to Monterey.  Enjoy the inns, restaurants, and bars of Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row after a hike that few have ever done, hiking from inn-to-inn on glorious Monterey Bay.

The Monterey Bay Walkabout is one of the hikes found in “Walkabout Northern California: Hiking Inn to Inn”. It can also be purchased as an individual guide.


“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."
~ John Muir


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  • Denise,

    This should be a great time to hike Monterey Bay.  This stretch of the coast is protected by the National Marine Sanctuary, and wildlife viewing should be spectacular.  You'll enjoy pristine beaches, unique inns, and sumptuous dining.  Leaving Capitola, we parked our car on Park Ave., a safe street where there were plenty of places to park and no restrictions. It runs adjacent to the trail along the railroad tracks between Capitola and New Brighton State Beach.

    I don't know of a good place to park in Monterey near the waterfront.  I think you may need to pay or walk inland.  Check with your Monterey innkeeper.  They may have parking or be able to suggest some.  Anyone else have any suggestions?

    Have a great walkabout.  Let us know how it went.

    Tom Courtney

    Hiker and Author
    Walkabout California

  • I am heading to the Monterey Walk about over Memorial. Can anyone recommend where to park a car in Monterey and in Capitola close to trail?



  • Lisa,

    That is great that you are going to hike the Monterey Bay from inn to inn. My wife, Heidi, and I did it in two legs, first from Capitola to Moss Landing in the fall, and then from Moss Landing to Monterey in the spring. It was fantastic. We have never seen such an abundance of coastal wildlife. There is something wonderful about walking multiple days on an endless beach.

    It is not easy to park in “downtown” Capitola. We left our car on the road that parallels the railroad tracks. This is along the trail as you start heading south.

    There are a few options for returning from Monterey. Monterey Salinas Transit provides bus service from Monterey to Capitola with stops along the way. You can get schedules from them at www.mst.org or 888-678-2871. Monterey, Salinas and Santa Cruz all have taxi services. That will be a bit more expensive, but quicker.

    We have always had remarkable luck with people being very generous about offering rides. I think that is because they are fascinated with the idea of inn-to-inn hiking. Innkeepers have been very helpful. I think there is a good chance your innkeeper can connect you with someone who is driving north when you want to return.

    Have a great trip. Please share your experience on the Walkabout California website when you return.

    Happy trails,

    Tom Courtney
    Hiker and Author
    Walkabout California
  • I am interested in doing the Monterey walkabout - I will be hiking alone. What is the best option for handling the car? Can I leave my car parked at the first Inn (for 4 days) and ask the the final Inn to drive me back to my car? Thanks for your feedback!
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