Monterey Bay Aquarium

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886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA, USA - (831) 648-4888

Monterey Bay Aquarium Reviews

missandrea81 missandr…
147 reviews
Wonderful aquarium with a local touch and knowledgeable volunteers Jul 13, 2017
Yes. I did review this place again. Who says I can't? Ha! After many many visits this place has REALLY grown on us.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is at first glance "nothing special". You won't see dolphins or alligators; whales or sea lions here. No, those live outside the aquarium along the rec trail (not the alligators, but you catch my drift.) They do have otters though. Otters that were rescued right out of the Pacific Ocean on which this aquarium is located. The large mammals are out in the ocean. Go on a whaling tour if you want to see those. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is all about conservation of the marine life. It's a really lovely place. The volunteer staff is always friendly and happy to answer all of your questions.

Our usual route through this place starts past the member's entrance and the otters at "The Deep Sea". We walk under "The Wharf" and check out the giant sea bass and sting rays. We then go visit the touch tanks (yes, I have a toddler in tow after all). Then it's off to see the big wave. This is fun for everyone, I assure you. If we don't stop to play by the penguins and the Kidz Zone (avoid at all cost if you have small children, *hint, hint*), we cross over to the other side of the aquarium to visit the jellyfish. Wonderfully done section with black lights and glowing jellies. After the jellies comes the big tank. Honestly it's a little too big as we usually don't stick around long enough to see anything fun, but there are a giant turtle and sharks in there.

After that we say hi to the puffins! I love puffins, don't you?

We recently discovered a little play area after the puffins hidden around the corner past the plastic trash art.

From here we go back downstairs to Baja California. Here our favorites are the turtle that's always chasing the iguanas, and around the corner from that the giant mangrove tree.

This place is really phenomenal to visit. We are lucky to be temporary locals and besides purchasing the membership there are free weeks for locals and also during off season, one can score free tickets at the local libraries.

I do recommend this place if you want to spend the $$$ and are interested in conservation of not only local but all marine life.
The penguins
Touch pool
Can I touch it??
Fishy fish
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
missandrea81 says:
So it's quite funny that I managed to get another feature with my improved experience review. haha
Posted on: Sep 04, 2017
Congrats on your featured review. This really seems to be a lovely place to visit.
Posted on: Sep 02, 2017
missandrea81 says:
This is so true, Vikram. I missed so many things on those first two visits. Turns out if you let the child explore he will find every.last. corner. haha
Posted on: Aug 26, 2017
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missandrea81 missandr…
147 reviews
Pricey without membership Jun 02, 2016
For those of you visiting, you'll have the large price stamp to consider. $40 for an adult are not peanuts. If you have children under 3, I'd consider it, but if they are older I would suggest a visit to the beach to play in the sand instead.

We lived in the area when visiting and were fortunate to borrow a friend's guest passes. So if you move to the area and plan to have lots of visitors getting a membership to this attraction is recommended. I will, and plan to return often to make it worth my while. Memberships differ, but the best deal gets you two adult passes plus 1 child of any age, AND two transferable/reusable guest passes. You need not be there for them to enjoy the aquarium. There's a separate entrance for members.

ABOUT THE AQUARIUM: It is very beautifully done. Lots of educational displays. Several large tanks to marvel at. Penguins and otter feedings twice a day. Jellyfish galore. LOTS of play areas for children, complete with touch tanks.

There are a lot of outdoor hangouts to look at Monterey Bay and possibly spot a whale or two.

The aquarium isn't huge, but there is plenty to see. If one exhibit is busy, move on and come back a little later. You can walk about as you please. (I've been to the Baltimore aquarium and it is set up as a "one way only" place.)

I do recommend this place if you have exhausted everything else Monterey has to offer, or the weather is off.
Monterey bay wildlife
View toward Sand City across Monte…
Monterey Bay by the aquarium
An otter mommy feeding her baby
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
X_Drive says:
Very well done! :D
Posted on: Jun 11, 2016
missandrea81 says:
Thank you all very much for stopping by and your kind words. I may not be as active as I used to be, but apparently I still got it. ;) Whatever "it" is. haha
Posted on: Jun 06, 2016
Vikram says:
Well done Miss A!
Posted on: Jun 05, 2016
X_Drive X_Drive
837 reviews
Maybe the best Aquarium in the world! Apr 16, 2012
This large two-story facility perched on the edge of Monterey Bay is made up many areas and exhibits, including Sea Otters, Seahorses, Vanishing Wildlife, The Jellies Experience, All kinds of Jellies, The Open Sea, Puffins, Touch Pools, Penguins, Splash Zone, The Kelp Forest, Octopus, Monterey Bay Habitats, Aviary, and more Touch Pools. They also have a large Amphitheater and great tide pool, and an Auditorium with various shows during the day. Also, there is a nice café and restaurant facing the bay and a gift, souvenir and bookshop.

It takes many hours to make your way through this wonderful place, so if you are staying at a local hotel ask them if they have a two day pass on sale. Most do. It allows you to spend two consecutive days for the price of one.

Several tours are available throughout the day although extra fees are charged and space in limited. Also, you are invited to watch feeding times which are posted and noted on the map and highlights paper handed out as you enter.

You are allowed to take photographs and videos in the aquarium although a few of the exhibits ask that you not use flash. Also, you are asked not to use either a tripod or monopod.

I felt that this is a wonderful way to spend two afternoons and would recommend to everyone. It is both educational and informative.
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
missandrea81 says:
It seems I have missed a few corners on my first two visits!
Posted on: Jun 02, 2016
ccjbeachbum says:
roger nice review and pictures - have a great weekend
Posted on: May 11, 2012
Airportman says:
Looks like a great place to visit :) Good review, Roger!
Posted on: May 10, 2012
pretty_girl pretty_g…
196 reviews
the top of the list if you visit Carmel/Monterey area Oct 07, 2012
I visited some aquariums in Europe: Barcelona (Spain), in Gdynia (Poland) . I love them, were amazing experiences. The Monterey Aquarium is in my heart too and it is absolutely great too! We visited it during day on Friday and it wasn't so crowded.

Wonderful tons of exhibits like the Sea Otters, The Jellies Experience, The Secret Life of Seahorses, The Open Sea, Penguins and even a little theater.

Our favorites were definitely the jelly fish experience, secret life of sea horses, sea otters and huge aquariums can't be described with words.

Helpful staff. Everyone was so nice and answered so many questions. And they are volunteers. They are all passionate about the aquarium and the animals and they are glad to share that passion with guests.

This aquarium is doing wonderful things in research, conservation and education and you will not regret a moment of your time here!

Food is quite expensive inside (about 5$ for drinks, $10 for a sandwich) and gift shop is over-priced.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
cneoridium says:
Now you just need Sea World for your collection!
Posted on: Oct 08, 2012
Dr_Seuss says:
Tell me anywhere that the gift shop isn't over priced :D
Posted on: Oct 08, 2012
kingoftheicedragons kingofth…
83 reviews
Well worth the money Feb 20, 2011
I love animals. So, we tend to go to see a lot of zoos and aquariums whenever we can. Some of these are free, or cost very little to get in. Others cost quite a bit more. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is on the expensive side. However, of all the aqauriums we have been to, this is without a doubt the best overall (Las Vegas was better for dolphins and SeaWorld Orlando was better for killer whales). The only thing better is being out on the ocean and seeing dolphins and whales in their native habitat. When we were here, they had the only great white shark in their tank that didn't immediately die by being in captivity. It was great walking around to the various exhibits within the aquarium, and you can spend several hours here easily.

Another thing that makes the aquarium so much better is that Monterey wants to make sure that you learn about the creatures and not just capitalize on them to bring in money, as well as conservation efforts. This is the aquarium that lets you know what fish you should eat to be a responsibile citizen of the earth--the ocean friendly seafood watch.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
kumikob kumikob
3 reviews
Learn the Secret Lives of Curious Sea Creatures Jan 25, 2011
Monterey Bay Aquarium is a "must" place to visit if you are in the area. This is a kind of place where both adults and children can find unlimited entertainment and learn a great deal. You'll be mesmerized by the wonders of ocean lives and make you truly appreciate how precious they are. They've got really cool creatures, sharks, penguins, adorable sea otters, kelp forest and a lot more... The walk-through tunnel and wave crash make children squeal with excitement.

Lots of interactive & multimedia features and daily special programs and shows will definitely keep you occupied and enhance your learning.

The have one of the nation’s largest collections of seahorses (over 15 species) - they are fascinating creatures! I could just stare at them until my eyes were sore...

You need at least 2-3 hours to tour the aquarium. You can easily spend a whole day especially if you include eating and checking out several gift shops.

The admission is not cheap - at the time of this writing, the cost for adult is $29.95 and $19.95 for children between the ages of 3-12. But this is worth every penny! You would not regret it.

For international visitors: Information cards are available at the information desk in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese. Many staff and volunteers also speak other languages.

I would highly recommend checking the aquarium's website before you visit to acquaint yourself with the facility, learn the highlights and check the time for special events or shows.

Photography Tips:

Turn your flash off - not only for better pictures, many creatures are sensitive to light.
hollywoodinoregon hollywoo…
4 reviews
Okay aquarium, not enough displays Jul 17, 2011
this aquarium was just okay for me. i love seeing aquatic life on display so i was excited to check out the monterey bay aquarium! I was especially looking forward to visiting the aquarium after reading lots of awesome reviews online. i headed there a couple weeks ago on a tuesday. the place was slammed and was extremely busy. this is to be expected since it is summer break but it did make getting around the place a little hectic.

while some displays were nice (otters, jellyfish) i found there were many areas that were just posters and photos of stuff instead of displays. i'd say about 60% of what there was to see was like that. it was kind of annoying and disappointing because we would go into a new area of the aquarium and walk through the whole display and find no real fish/etc. to look at. i'd rather see more.

also, this was an expensive activity. i had read to allow several hours to explore the place so i figured it would be worth the $30 entry for each of us. my friend and i saw everything (and some displays twice) after 90 minutes - i don't really feel it was worth it. i was lingering towards the end and just kept wishing there was more to see...

overall, it was okay... not terrible but not the best.
tammy7 tammy7
2 reviews
Great Visit Jun 30, 2011
A great place to visit if you are coming to the Monterey Bay! There are great new exhibits, the shark tank and a place you can touch the stingrays!!! Great place for the family, fish fun and food! The restaurant is great and there is a gift shop for all the souvenirs and toys for the kids you need. Highly recommended!
dansgirl1978 dansgirl…
64 reviews
One of my favorite places Nov 15, 2010
I've been to the Aquarium many many times in my life and have loved it each and every time! I've been lucky enough to live about 1 1/2 hours from the Aquarium my whole life so I can jump in the car and see it anytime. I try to go whenever they have a new special exhibit. This time around it was the Secret Lives of Seahorses. This has been one of my favorite exhibits and I hope they decide to make it permanent.
the leafy seahorse- my favorite fr…
eamesker eamesker
17 reviews
Under the Sea!!! Sep 03, 2008
I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium! A lot of people say it takes a whole day, but that is only if you read everything about everything. If you go just to see all the creatures it is more of a half day, which is good because it gives you time to walk around near the shore! I really love watching all of the jellyfish, but I also enjoyed the GIANT tank of tuna and sharks - I could have watched them swim 'round and 'round all day. Every so often they get in a great white shark. They will keep small ones until they get too big, then they tag and release them. I have never been there while a great white was there, which may be a good thing - I don't want surf nightmares of shark attacks. eeek!

Oh and if you want to save some money, park on the local streets in front of the houses, you may have to walk 3-5 blocks but I would rather do a bit of extra walking than pay the 20 bucks for parking!

I also went here once when I was younger and remember it being a lot more awesome, maybe everything just seemed larger.... So make sure that especially if you have kids take them here... they wont forget it!

I probably won't go back for a while, but it was still worth the visit.
GIANT seaweed tank - 2 stories tal…
Eric Eric
408 reviews
Educational and Amazing Jul 02, 2008
Haven't been to the Long Beach Aquarium lately, but this is probably the best aquarium in California. Tons of interesting exhibits and tanks filled with interesting lifeforms, from alien looking jellyfish to deadly looking sharks.

There are two VERY big tanks that contain the larger varieties of ocean life, including sharks and tuna. For some reason whenever I pictured tuna, I always pictured a small, salmon sized fish. But when you see them in person you realize that they are enormous, like underwater blimps. There are also a few sharks that are pretty amazing to see up close.

Only drawback is that tickets are ridiculously expensive. $25 for adults. I'm sure the money goes to a good cause, but $25 seems a little pricey to me.
Jellyfish cloud.
Glowing jellyfish.
Leopard sharks.
Kana Kana
35 reviews
Aug 10, 2007
This is our favorite aquarium! They have set up the exhibits in such a way that visitors can get a glimpse of how these creatures live in their natural habitats, as opposed to just showing them in an old-fashioned "fish in a tank" style. My son can spend hours in front of the tall Sea Otter tank where you can see them playfully swimming through tunnels. The center-piece of the aquarium, a 28-feet-tall Kelp Forest is almost hypnotizing with giant sea kelp drifting in the sun light and countless types of fish slowly swimming around them. At the Outer Bay exhibit, you can see schools of torpedo-like giant tunas (they are huge!!) zipping around, passing by hammerhead sharks, stingrays and sunfish…

My favorite is jellyfish exhibits. There are two locations where you can see jellyfish: the Drifters Gallery on the second floor and the “Jellies: Living Art” exhibit on the first floor, both in the Outer Bay Wing of the aquarium. They are both wonderful. “Jellies: Living Art” is a very interesting exhibit because they show living jellyfish and artworks by artists who were inspired by jellies side by side. Some jellyfish are shown in a frame as if they are a piece of art (and they really are…), and some drifting in a lit-up tank that has colorful glass beads at the bottom. They are all mesmerizing.

You can easily spend a half-day, even a whole day, in this aquarium. There are a lot of hands-on areas for young visitors, too. If you want some fresh air during your visit, you can always walk out onto one of many outdoor porches where you can have a beautiful view of Monterey Bay.

One note: If you get hungry, there is a cafeteria (“Portola Café”) inside of the aquarium. They have a quite good selection, and the food is pretty good for a cafeteria, but the price is high. We paid $6.95 for a slice of cheese pizza for my son! There are a lot of cafes and restaurants near the aquarium, so you can always plan to eat before/after the visit if you don’t want to drop that kind of money for your lunch! :)
Jellies... wall to wall.
They look like pretty dresses...
Living jellies in a frame
Deb says:
I love this aquarium!
Posted on: Aug 10, 2007
portia portia
216 reviews
Jul 11, 2006
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the USA. It's located in Monterey Bay, California. It is a place which you can spend half a day easily, with or without kids!

It has several impressive exhibits: the living Kelp Forest exhibit, at 28 feet high, is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. The top of the exhibit opens to the sky, so the sunlight shines into the water, helping the kelp grow (up to 4 inches a day). Feeding time (11:30am and 4pm) is always a good show where divers go inside the water to feed the fishes. Sea water from the bay is pumped into the exhibit continuously.

The jelly fish exhibits are truly beautiful. Jellies of all different forms and colors fly through the blue water, transfixing children and adults alike.

The Outer Bay exhibit has more than 1 million gallons of sea water, an acrylic viewing window 54 ft wide, 15 ft tall, weighing 76000 lbs, at 13 inches thick, is all that separates you and the open ocean sea creatures found in any aquarium! Schools of big tuna, sea turtles, sharks and more jellies are in this exhibit. This is where the great white shark was housed between September 2004 to March 2005. I was lucky enough to catch her in one of my photographs during her fist days there, at only about 5 feet long, she was nonetheless intimidating to other fishes in the water, who kept a good distance from her. After several months, gaining more than 1 foot and 100 lbs, she began to attack and killed a couple of poor less-agressive sharks, she was released back into the Pacific ocean! This was the only white shark living in captivity in the world.

In addition to these star exhibits, there are also exhibits of penguins, octopus. "petting area" with starfishes, real tide pools (outside by the water), sea otters, sea birds who fly into the shore exhibits. You can also wallk under an aquarium to feel like you are in the water yourself.

Monterey Bay Aquarium is a very popular destination on the California coast. Fall and winter times, afternoons, or middle of the weeks are less crowded than other times. This is a great place to spend your time and gain appreciation of mother nature.
Jelly fish exhibit, one of many sm…
the Big living jelly fish exhibit.…
Their largest million gallon Outer…
The only Great White in an aquariu…
Kana says:
This is my favorite place, too!
I've been wanting to go back there. :)
Posted on: Apr 26, 2007
travelman727 says:
Great review! I'll have to check it out my next time to Monterey (if you can get me off the golf course).
Posted on: Jul 11, 2006
cari cari
30 reviews
Aug 24, 2004
At $22/adults,$20/students, and $13 for kids under 12 (under 3 is free), the Aquarium might not be cheap, but it is guaranteed to enthrall your entire party for at least two hours.The ever-expanding aquarium is situated in the remnants of the old tin canneries that used to be the lifeblood of Monterey (think Steinbeck's "Cannery Row"). Not only is the building historically significant and fascinating, the fish inside ain't half bad, either.They have a relatively new shark exhibit, which, for a while, held the only living great white shark in captivity. Shew remained in the aquarium for a year before she had to be released (she was eating the other exhibits), but you can still see videos about her. The aquarium also boasts the largest single viewing window (read: a two-story tank) and the largest indoor kelp field in the world. As far as aquariums go, this place is world class.But it isn't stuffy at all. The "Jellies: Living Art" exhibit uses colored lights to make the jellyfish look like...well, living art. It's a truly beautiful exhibit with lots of videos and things you can touch for the little ones.And speaking of the little ones, there's an entire section devoted to children called the "Splash Zone," where you can pet various starfish and manta rays, dress up like your favorite sea creature, and even watch the penguins being fed.Of course, the sea otters are what the aquarium is most famous for, and any visit should include a trip to see their tank. The aquarium is not so large that you need to pick and choose which exhibits to see, but you do want to set aside about 2-3 hours to see it all.
Maureenie says:
This place is awesome.
Posted on: Sep 21, 2006

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photo by: ccjbeachbum