This is an annual update of my post on the webcams around Monterey Bay (since they change regularly). These views are likely most useful to coast walkers, kayakers and paddleboarders. I’m starting in Monterey, then looking a bit south to Carmel, and finishing with views north toward Santa Cruz.
The best live cam view of the Monterey Harbor, Custom House Plaza, Fisherman’s Wharf I & II and Coast Guard breakwater is from the roof of the Portola Hotel in downtown Monterey. This view is great to reference for weather before walking the Rec Trail (Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail).
This is the only webcam view of an iconic Monterey hub. It’s especially nice at dawn, dusk and during storms. (Special events often held on the Plaza are fun to watch, too.)
The most awesome cam view of southern Monterey Bay for kayakers and boaters is from atop A Taste of Monterey along Cannery Row. The cam scans the water from the Intercontinental Hotel to A Taste of Monterey. This is my go-to cam before I go kayaking.
Just down Cannery Row is the Monterey Bay Aquarium with several live webcams. Most are focused on the inside exhibits, but the Monterey Bay Cam is on nearshore bay. It’s promoted as a live cam, but sometimes I’m not sure if I’m watching a live feed or a video loop. However, when it’s live, the location is perfect for viewing cormorant-covered rocks and the waters just off the Aquarium. And you can’t beat the views from webcams of what’s inside.
For venturing south of Monterey Bay (going to Carmel Bay or Point Lobos), be sure to check out the Pebble Beach Resorts’
Golf Cams (technically not Monterey Bay, but linked geologically). There are several, each at a different Pebble Beach Golf Links hole. The ocean views (during the day) from Holes 17 and 18 are great even if you’re not a golf fan. Hole 18 is the renowned finishing hole with an incredible view of Carmel Bay (above). (Note: The cams are turned off during the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.)
In Carmel there’s the unpretentious Carmel ClamCam, which works sometimes better than others. The website has a few ads and a mollusc shell backdrop. I know nothing about the site except that it offers a view of Carmel Beach, a great local dog beach, and no one else does.
Turning north past Monterey along the Monterey Bay coastline, the best mid-bay webcam is at Moss Landing, a lovely working harbor and town, and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), a premier ocean research center, and to Elkhorn Slough, the second largest tidal salt marsh along the California coast. The webcam is SeaOtters.com’s Live Sea Otter Cam. It offers changing views of the harbor with colonies of sea otters, harbor seals and sea lions.
Unfortunately, this live cam regularly catches people in the act of harassing marine mammals. The kayakers in this shot are getting really close to resting sea otters. The general rule of thumb is if the animals’ behavior is not changed by your presence, you’re okay. When a sea otter or harbor seal looks your way or moves away, you’re too close. Not only is harassment rude and stressful to wild animals, it’s also against the law. If you witness any harassment of marine mammals in progress, report it to CalTIP at 1-888-334-2258 or text TIP441, or NOAA at 1-800-853-1964.
The Elkhorn Slough Foundation and Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve offer two webcams with varying views at secret spots. You never know what you’ll see. (You also need Adobe Flash Player to view these.) And if there’s nothing to see, there are great video highlights.
North of Moss Landing, heading toward Santa Cruz, is a great Capitola beach view. From here you can watch beachgoers at play. This webcam (and the one of Monterey Harbor) are brought to you by HDOnTap, which has live webcams showing amazing views from around the country (like Donner Lake dusted with snow or an osprey nest on the Chesapeake). So, if you can’t get outside, or are preparing to venture outside, take a virtual look first.
At the north end of Monterey Bay is Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Harbor cam offers a view of the harbor mouth where you’ll find sea lions on the breakwater, surfers in the water and an occasional boat gliding by.
Whether you want to visit Monterey Bay vicariously, or you’re visiting and want to know what’s outside today, I hope you find these eyes on the bay enjoyable and useful. Once you’ve had your fill of virtual views, get out to see the real thing wherever you are.