Monterey is one of the most beautiful coastal cities in California. A city defined by its water, Monterey is home to some of the richest marine life as showcased in its famous Monterey Aquarium. As for the locals, the ocean seems to exert a kind of gravitational pull on the people–if they aren’t out kayaking, they’re cycling on the coast-line hugging trails.
Monterey is also the site of many preservation and conservation efforts. Proud of their Hispanic roots, restored adobe buildings and interpretative historical signage line the city’s historic downtown quarter. Rich in their abundance of natural resources, the city also lies adjacent to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a federally protected ocean area that is inhabited by the threatened California sea otter subspecies. The area is also home to a wide variety of natural habitats that range from sand dunes to Monterey Cypress trees.
I spent a few days out in Monterey and I was even able to venture further south into Big Sur with a friend. We lucked out with the weather, which was clear and bright. During the day, you could see the ridge line of the Sierra Nevada mountains encircling the water, and at night, the stars shone bright–we even saw a few shooting stars. Marine life was also in abundance. I saw everything from sea lions to harbor seals.
Further down south of Monterey lies the city of Carmel and the 17 Mile Drive, a scenic road that hugs the Pacific coastline and cuts through a gated community. Although I went on the 17 Mile Drive with a friend, I revisited the coastline by bicycle; I biked down from Monterey to Carmel, a hilly, 30-mile round trip bicycle ride along the Coastal Trail. The views were stunning.