Sail on Monterey Bay

Rate this Adventure San Francisco Monterey Bay

Added by Michael Wigle

  • Enjoy one of the best sailing experience in California
  • Less than 2 hours south of San Francisco
  • Take a sunset sail around the point to Carmel
  • Sail without having to encounter shipping or commercial traffic
  • Deep Monterey Bay is full of incredible aquatic wildlife

Few places along the California coast are perfectly suited for a day of sailing. While San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Long Beach, San Francisco, and Catalina Island offer sailing adventures, none of them offer wide open Pacific waters without dangerous commercial traffic to navigate. They also don't offer the deep blue waters of Monterey Bay, which are full of some impressive wildlife. This is the best place on the West Coast to see a pod of 12 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins cruising alongside your peacefully gliding sailboat.

The quickest way to get to Monterey from San Francisco is south on the 101 to Pruneville. A short drive west on highway 156 and continue south on Highway 1 into Monterey. Watch your speed, as this is a popular area of enforcement for the cadets at the Naval Postgrad School. A more scenic route cuts south on highway 85 from Mountain View to the 15 freeway south into Santa Cruz. Avoid this on the weekends. In Santa Cruz, you can follow Highway 1 all the way to Monterey.

The Marina is right before downtown Monterey at the end of the beach. There is a large public parking lot. The best place to start is Monterey Bay Sailing. Starting around noon, the inexperienced sailer can snag a bay cruise for several hours after the morning fog has lifted to sunset, and before the evening fog rolls in. A licensed, more advanced sailer can rent a 22' Catalina for the day. You can work out various sailing adventures around the point all the way to Carmel.

The sail around the point is one of the most scenic in along the West Coast. Private country clubs and homes line 17 Mile Drive from Monterey to Pebble Beach. Unless you live there, the only way to experience this pristine rugged coast is from the water. Without an engine running, you'll attract a whole host of incredible wildlife from Sea Lions, to Sea Otters, Dolphins, Whales, Birds, and Fish. In the evenings before sunset, you can catch giant Pacific Moon Jellyfish gracefully swimming in the strong ocean swells.

For the truly experienced and expert sailer, I recommend waiting at the gate to the docks on Wednesday nights around 5pm. If you can impress one of the guys showing up for the weekly "Beer Cup Race", you can hop on a boat, work hard by lending a hand, and get a truly incredible experience.

At the end of the night, head to the Bulldog British Pub. There are at least 5 British pubs in Monterey, thanks to a burgeoning ex-pat community. It doesn't get more "Monterey" than fried fish and curried chips downed with a cold ale and locals throwing darts.

Pack List

  • Stohlquist Drifter PFD
  • Marmot Precip Jacket
  • Grundens Gage Bib
  • Fingerless Cycling Gloves
  • Polycarbonate sunglasses w/ holding strap
  • GoPro Hero 3+
  • Waterproof Sunscreen
  • Case of beer
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Chillin, Fishing, Photography

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn


Adult Beverages
Easy Parking

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Added by Michael Wigle

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