Moss Landing CA

Moss Landing CA is not much more than a couple of blocks of cafés and restaurants, art galleries, and studios, plus a busy fishing port, but therein lies its charm. It’s a fine place to overnight or stop for a meal and get a dose of nature.  This quaint fishing village features several antique shops, art studios, fresh seafood markets and delightful restaurants all within strolling distance of each other.  Moss Landing is a popular spot for antiquing, surfing and nature watching. It’s located at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, one of California’s largest wetland areas and home to hundreds of species. With so much to see, it’s easy to fill up a full day.  For a list of all the great beaches in the central California area, << Click Here >>.

Whale Watching in Moss Landing CAMoss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CA

Here’s one of those stars-aligning-just-right adventures you’ll never forget. In summer, when conditions are calm, experienced paddlers can take guided kayak tours into the open ocean off tiny Moss Landing, putting them smack-dab in the middle of the whale-watching action. Waters here, roughly 18 miles/29 kilometres north of Monterey, teem with wildlife. Climb into your kayak, paddle out, and watch the show, with humpbacks spouting, fluking, and even breaching all around.

Even if you don’t have paddling experience you can easily enjoy the show. Guided boat cruises also head out from the marina, where you can often see another marine mammal nosing about the docks—California sea otters. Whale-watching expeditions head out year-round.

Weather (When to Go) in Moss Landing CA

The best time to visit Moss Landing CA is between April and May. Spring offers warmer temperatures, fewer crowds and food festivals dishing out delectable eats, including Pebble Beach Food & Wine and the Artichoke Festival in Castroville. Summer is the most popular time to visit the Monterey Peninsula, but it can still be chilly, so bring a sweater regardless of the season. Fall is another good time to visit, but the likelihood of rain increases starting in October. Moss Landing’s central California location subjects it to mild temperatures during the winter, with the average low reaching 48 degrees. Winter also brings lower hotel prices and the celebrity-heavy AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am event held in February, making Moss Landing an attractive destination year-round.

Area Attractions in Moss Landing CA

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CAElkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

The reserve’s 1,400 acres of tidal flats and salt marshes form a complex environment that supports some 300 species of birds. A walk along the meandering waterways and wetlands can reveal hawks, white-tailed kites, owls, herons, and egrets. Also living or visiting here are sea otters, sharks, rays, and many other animals. On weekends, guided walks from the visitor center begin at 10 and 1. On the first Saturday of the month, an early-bird tour departs at 8:30.

Moss Landing State Beach, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CAMoss Landing State Beach

Offshore fishing, surfing, windsurfing and horseback riding are popular activities. The beach is a favorite place for picnics because the dunes protect it from afternoon winds. This area is an important stop along the Pacific Flyway so bird watching is popular.

 

Salinas River State Beach, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CASalinas River State Beach

The beach and dunes at Salinas River State Beach are part of Monterey Bay’s unique coastal dune system and it is home to many species of birds, including the California brown pelican, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, western snowy plover, western gull, black phoebe, western scrub-jay, California towhee, white-crowned sparrow, and more.  The beach is a popular fishing site.

 

Marina State Beach, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CAMarina State Beach

The beach area winds through the Marina Dunes Natural Preserves. The beach is known for hang-gliding. Radio-controlled gliders and kites are also popular. The beach is a favorite site for picnics. Water recreation is extremely hazardous due to strong rip currents.

 

Zmudowski State Beach, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CAZmudowski State Beach

The beach is a popular fishing area, featuring perch, kingfish, sole, flounder, halibut, bocaccio (tomcod), jacksmelt, lingcod, cabezon, salmon, steelhead and occasional rockfish.  The beach features the Pajaro River estuary, where a natural preserve has been set aside. The sandy beach is also popular with bird watchers and equestrians. Horses are only allowed near the waterline. Swimming and water sports are hazardous because of strong rip-currents.

Things To do in Moss Landing CA

Blue Ocean Whale Watch, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CABlue Ocean Whale Watch

Blue Ocean Whale Watch is owner operated and has the most unique boat on the bay. Their boat, High Spirits, is a 60ft yacht with plenty of space for you inside and out. They have an observation deck up top which provides a 360 degree view of the bay – a perfect vantage point for taking photos.  For more information call 831-600-5103, or visit them on the web at Blue Ocean  Whale Watch.

Sanctuary Cruises, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CASanctuary Cruises

Explore Monterey Bay year-round with a marine biologist aboard Sanctuary, a beautiful boat that is only booked to 80% of her capacity for a more personalized passenger experience. They run longer trips with fewer passengers. They really care about the environment and run 100% local biodiesel. Knowledgeable, warm owner/operators engage and enchant. Responsible captains who don’t crowd the animals but ease into the area, which often results in fantastic sightings.  For more information call 831-350-4090, or visit them on the web at Sanctuary Cruises.

Elkhorn Slough Safari, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CAElkhorn Slough Safari

Enjoy an astounding array of wildlife!  Playful sea otters, curious harbor seals, boisterous sea lions, and hundreds of bird species abound as you explore one of California’s most spectacular wetlands aboard a stable, 27 foot, U.S. Coast Guard inspected pontoon boat.  For more information call 831-633-5555, or visit them on the web at Elkhorn Slough Safari.

Sea Goddess Whale Watching, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CASea Goddess Whale Watching

Whale Watching in Monterey Bay with the newest, most comfortable whale watching vessel “Sea Goddess” located in Moss Landing at the mouth of the deep ocean canyon where whales love to feed in their natural environment! Close to both Monterey and Santa Cruz, they can easily go either direction to view whales, dolphins, orcas, and much, much more. For more information call 831-760-2500, or visit them on the web at Sea Goddess Whale Watching.

Kayak Connection, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CAKayak Connection

Kayak Connection is Monterey Bay’s favorite outfitter for sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding rentals, sales, lessons and tours.  For more information call 831-724-5692, or visit them on the web at Kayak Connection.

$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End

$$ – $$$  Phil’s Fish Market

Located in the heart of Moss Landing, Phil’s Fish Market is a locally owned family business. They have been serving the finest local & sustainable seafood available for over 30 years. They were named #1 Best Beach Restaurant by BBC Travel, featured on Food Network and have been written up several times in Sunset magazine and many other magazines and newspapers. They now freshly prepare and flash freeze our most popular dishes to serve those that can’t make it to the Monterey Bay.  For more information call 831-633-2152, or visit them on the web at Phil’s Fish Market.

$$ – $$$  Whole Enchilada Restaurant

The Whole Enchilada is an upbeat restaurant with a harbor view specializing in fresh seafood from the Monterey Bay.  Their relaxed harbor atmosphere with vibrant Mexican food will make you thirst for a cucumber margarita…or two.  For more information call 831-633-3038, or visit them on the web at Whole Enchilada Restaurant.

$$ – $$$  Moss Landing Cafe

Located near the quaint little fishing harbor of Moss Landing, you cant help but notice the red and white restaurant with murals depicting the local areas beauty. The Moss Landing is credited with the best Fish Sandwiches in Monterey county. Fresh fish, fruit and vegetables are prepared daily and from local sources when possible.  Enjoy their great Northern California Deep-Fried Artichokes, fresh Seafood and delicious Clam Chowder. For more information call 831-633-3355, or visit Moss Landing Cafe.

$$ – $$$  The Haute Enchilada

The Haute Enchilada Cafe, Gallery & Social Club boasts an eclectic menu of sustainable seafood and local organic produce, wine and beer tasting, full bar plus an art gallery with local artists’ original work and live entertainment. From palate to palette the Haute Enchilada Cafe, Gallery & Social Club has something for everyone! Open daily from 11:00 a.m. for brunch, lunch and dinner.  For more information call 831-718-9122, or visit them on the web at The Haute Enchilada.

$$ – $$$  ​Giorgio’s at 201 Main

Upscale, California fresh cuisine. Take a seat in their show kitchen or in fire-lit Tuscan Piazza. Featuring an award winning wine list and a highly renowned mixology menu, they offer 104 seats in the dining room, 38 bar seats, and 56 seats in the fire-lit piazza.  For more information call 831-800-7573, or visit them on the web at Giorgio’s at 201 Main.

Best Bars in Moss Landing CA

Moss Landing Inn

Eclectic. That best describes this nautical-themed Moss Landing bar that keeps loyal locals and curious travelers flowing in for hearty food, live music on the weekends, karaoke on Tuesdays, drought beers and the occasional amateur pole dance.  For more information call 831-633-9853, or visit them on the web at Moss Landing Inn.

The Haute Enchilada

The Haute Enchilada Cafe, Gallery & Social Club boasts an eclectic menu of sustainable seafood and local organic produce, wine and beer tasting, full bar plus an art gallery with local artists’ original work and live entertainment. From palate to palette the Haute Enchilada Cafe, Gallery & Social Club has something for everyone! Open daily from 11:00 a.m. for brunch, lunch and dinner.  For more information call 831-718-9122, or visit them on the web at The Haute Enchilada.

Whole Enchilada Restaurant

The Whole Enchilada is an upbeat restaurant with a harbor view specializing in fresh seafood from the Monterey Bay.  Their relaxed harbor atmosphere with vibrant Mexican food will make you thirst for a cucumber margarita…or two.  For more information call 831-633-3038, or visit them on the web at Whole Enchilada Restaurant.

Lemon Grass

Local seafood prepared Thai-style is on the long menu at an easygoing restaurant with a full bar.  For more information call 831-633-0700, or visit them on the web at Lemon Grass.

Best Hotels in Moss Landing CA

Captain's Inn at Moss Landing, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CACaptain’s Inn at Moss Landing

This romantic Inn is a 10-guestroom property all with the purpose to entice travelers to relax and revel into a soothing getaway. Each room has its own personal charm expressed through unique antiques, furniture and nautical décor. Along with the stunning wetlands of the Monterey Bay, guests are drawn into the calm feeling of sailing through calm Pacific Ocean waters.  Enjoy the newly restored Historic House rooms, which will take you back in time with their remarkable antique décor.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Captain’s Inn at Moss Landing.

Sanctuary Beach Resort, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CASanctuary Beach Resort

Nestled between between the rolling hills of the Carmel Valley and ocean tides of the Marina Dunes, The Sanctuary Beach Resort enchants travelers with its surroundings, top-of-the-line amenities and world-class attractions.  Guests on a romantic retreat can enjoy a couples massage and watch the sun set over the bay with Champagne from their private patio.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Sanctuary Beach Resort.

Seascape Beach Resort, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CASeascape Beach Resort

Located on 17-miles of secluded beachfront in Aptos, California. No other Monterey Bay or Santa Cruz resort or hotel offers all-suites accommodations with fully equipped kitchens or kitchenettes, fireplaces, and private balconies facing Monterey Bay. Choose from 285 Studio and One-Bedroom Suites, and Two-Bedroom with Two Baths Beach Villas, that are sun-drenched, spacious, and tastefully designed in a California Coast style.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Seascape Beach Resort.

Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CAHampton Inn & Suites Salinas

Make yourself at home in one of the 105 air-conditioned rooms featuring refrigerators and LCD televisions. Complimentary wired and wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and digital programming provides entertainment. Private bathrooms with shower/tub combinations feature deep soaking bathtubs and complimentary toiletries. Don’t miss out on recreational opportunities including an indoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center. Additional amenities at this hotel include complimentary wireless Internet access and tour/ticket assistance.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas.

Seven Gables Inn, Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing beaches, best beaches in California, Central California beaches, things to do in Moss Landing CA, Moss Landing CA Hotels, best restaurants in Moss Landing CA, best bars in Moss Landing CASeven Gables Inn

Seven Gables Inn has been designated by American Historic Inns as “One of the 10 Most Romantic Inns in America.”And voted #2 in the USA Today’s voter poll of the Most Romantic Inns in the US. Each of the boutique hotel accommodations feature a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay, CA. These luxurious rooms include a complimentary Generous Continental Breakfast in Our Oceanfront Dining Room, afternoon wine and cheese featuring wine from local Monterey County, Napa Valley and Carmel, California wineries, complimentary high-speed wireless Internet service and evening turn-down service. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Seven Gables Inn.

30 Comments

  1. William Mills

    So many amazing beach spots in California, seems like they’ll never end. Definitely will look into Moss landing, never been but looks amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is amazing William and thank you for visiting Moss Landing CA.

      Reply
  2. Alex

    I am really glad you finally did a post on Moss Landing. It is right down the coast from Santa Cruz. I have been there and it is a blast. Monterrey Bay is very pretty. When you are out on the water and see the sunset, ah! That is the good life.

    I did an Elkhorn Slough kayaking trip and it was awesome. When we were out on the water, a sea otter was following us. He was a bit naughty though. He jumped onto my kayak! I had to splash some water on him to get him off. They are endangered, so you cannot get too close. I definitely recommend it.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Wow, that is so cool Alex. To have a sea otter jump on your kayak! I agree, the sunset on the water…cannot be beat…not in my book. Thanks for visiting Moss Landing CA!

      Reply
  3. Miranda

    Wow, every time I read your articles I want to go visit California more and more. I’m always saying “wow”, “*gasp*I want to go there*. The images are so lovely. Great good as usual!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks Miranda for reading about Moss Landing CA. Central California is beautiful. When you are ready to vacation here, please let me know and I can help you with your planning 🙂

      Reply
  4. Dave

    I’ve never been whale watching but that is something that has always fascinated me. I think your first picture also sold me on this gorgeous stretch of land. I love the water and boating would be a hobby of mine if I could afford it. I’m sure there’s something out there that involves renting a boat or a tour. That would be ideal with such a beautiful area. Great review!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Dave and glad you enjoyed my review of Moss Landing CA. Whale watching is pretty awesome, and yeah if I had the money I would have a nice boat and I would be out on the water all the time! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  5. Daniella

    Awesome post, as usual1 I am a consistent fan of your website:) One of my daughter bigger dreams is to watch big whales from close up. Soon she is going to turn out 16 years old, so I really need to make her dream come true for her birthday:)
    We don’t have any experience in kayaking, so will take a cruise. Also, it is much safer that way:)
    The whale season in Hawaii is the winter. Great to know that we can see them in the summer too:)

    Thank you for this great post1

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are so welcome Daniella! I am glad you enjoyed. Your daughter will really enjoy the whale watching, shoot you will as well. It is pretty awesome. Thanks for visiting Moss Landing CA.

      Reply
  6. Lane Onson

    I wanna go whale watching and stay in the Seven Gables Inn. That inn looks like the inn that Jane Seymour, the actress, starred in. I would love to be there.

    Thank you for posting this. I wondered what a travel blog would look like. This is wonderful ’cause you take the mystery out of planning and traveling.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Land and yes, Moss Landing is a great place to head and do some whale watching. You would enjoy the Seven Gables Inn. Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  7. Franck Chanda

    Hello, Good place to go for vacation it looks like Capetown. I am kidding this place is very awesome I will definitely recommend some People I know to visit this place.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Frank! Moss Landing CA is a great coastal destination. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  8. Igor

    Moss Landing is awesome!
    I live also on the coast and in my country we have more than thousand islands with a very few sand beaches, mostly gravel.

    Also, whales are very rare in Adriatic sea, the sea I grew up with.

    never saw whales so close as the people on the video, and never saw them live. Just dolphins and sharks.

    Didi you ever saw them so close?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh yes, I have been on whale watching cruises before and I toughed them. They really have horrible breath! It is amazing and something you should experience. I hope you can visit Moss Landing CA sometime soon. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  9. Jaime Brooks

    Hi,
    Thanks for the article I found it really useful. My family are going on holiday to California in summer and we are trying to work out where to stay. I am definitely going to suggest Moss Landing to them, there seems to be lots of amazing things to see and do.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are right, this is a great area. Central California is beautiful and Monterey Bay has so much to offer. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  10. Dan

    I’ve never heard of Moss Landing prior to reading this article but it seems like a great place! It has been a few years since I’ve been to California but this article definitely makes me want to go back soon! This seems like it would be a great vacation spot.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Moss Landing Ca is definitely a great place to vacation too! So much to see and do. Thanks for stopping by Beach Travel Destinations.

      Reply
  11. Kavitha

    After reading your article I feel I need to visit Moss Landing for sure. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful place.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Kavitha. Glad you enjoyed your digital visit to Moss Landing CA.

      Reply
  12. Myles

    Enjoyed your article. So great to learn about Moss Landing, it looks like a good choice to escape the Western Canadian winter that gets harder to handle each year I get older:-) We are AirBNB fans, do you know of any in the area that have good reviews?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, there are actually quite a few great choices thru AirBnb. I would go to their site and find one that suits your needs 🙂 as there are many with great reviews in the area. Thanks for stopping by Moss Landing CA.

      Reply
  13. Rob

    Moss Landing looks awesome! It looks like I could spend two weeks here. There’s so much to see and do. I’ve never been whale watching before and can’t imagine what it’s like to experience this. I’ve only been to California once and when I do go back, this is one place that’s on my list! I’m hoping I go during the season when the weather is perfect!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Rob! You will enjoy, and whale watching up close is awesome! I’ve seen them in Alaska before they head out, California, and Mexico. Amazing animals. Thanks for stopping by Moss Landing CA.

      Reply
  14. Nathan

    All those beaches look beautiful! I recently visited Santa Cruz for my birthday. The weather on the beach is just incredible. I’ll have to keep Moss Landing in mind, your post definitely gives a lot of information about the place.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Nathan, glad you enjoyed reading about Moss Landing CA. Thanks for stopping by beach travel destinations!

      Reply
  15. Evelynn

    Hi, thank you for this indebt review of Moss landing, it sounds heavenly. I have been searching for places to go on vacation with my family and I know my kids would simply love whale watching. Would you know whether the tour guides would allow for children from 7 years old.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, Evelynn almost all ages are allowed on the whale watching tours and they would enjoy for sure! Please let me know if you need any additional information, and thank you for visiting Moss Landing CA.

      Reply

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