Monterey Bay live webcams for 2021

The world has changed since starting this annual post on Monterey Bay webcams. Until we’re done with COVID-19, webcams are still a good way to visit the bay or plan your visit. So here are the best coastal webcams for your viewing pleasure starting with the Monterey Peninsula, moving south into Carmel and Big Sur, and then up the coast to Santa Cruz.

The best live cam view of Custom House Plaza, Fisherman’s Wharf I & II and Monterey Harbor is from the Portola Hotel roof in Monterey. This is the only cam on the Plaza —
an iconic downtown hub. The view is especially nice at dawn, dusk and during storms.

MontereyHarborThis old shot shows people in the Plaza. Today’s live view will be mostly peopleless.
I look forward to the time when the area opens and special events return to the Plaza.

The most awesome cam view of southern Monterey Bay is from atop A Taste of Monterey on Cannery Row. The webcam gently scans back and forth between the Intercontinental Hotel and A Taste of Monterey. This is my go-to cam for blissing out on blue-sky days and dark-gray stormy ones. If you visit this webcam, watch closely. On clear spring days you can sometimes see the misty spouts of gray or humpback whales. I’m looking forward to using the water-conditions guidance for when I get back to kayaking.


MBAqWebcamJust down Cannery Row is the Monterey Bay Aquarium with several live webcams, mostly focused on inside exhibits, but the Monterey Bay Cam offers shoreline views with the soothing sound of the surf. The location is perfect for close-up sightings of seabirds, shorebirds and sleepy seals on rocks and beaches. While visiting the Aquarium’s site, check out the cams showing what’s inside.
They’re almost as good as visiting the exhibits in person.

PB18thVenturing south of Monterey, be sure to visit Pebble Beach Resorts’ Golf Cams. There are several, each at a different Pebble Beach Golf Links hole. My favorite is the golf cam at the 18th Green the renowned finishing hole on Carmel Bay. Whether you’re a golf fan or not, the Stillwater Cove view is spectacular.

In Carmel there’s the unpretentious Carmel ClamCam, which works sometimes better than others. I know nothing about the website or sponsor except that this cam provides a long-shot view of Carmel Beach, a beautiful dog-friendly shoreline, that no one else has.

If we continue on our virtual tour, the south end of Carmel — Carmel Highlands —
won’t disappoint with the webcam view from the Tickle Pink Inn. Settled in with
my favorite beverage and I could watch this scene forever.

Turning back north through Monterey along the Monterey Bay coastline to
mid-bay is a lovely working harbor and town called Moss Landing. It’s home to
Elkhorn Slough, the second largest tidal salt marsh along the California coast.
The Slough has two “OtterCams.” What’s wonderful about these secretly located cams is that you never know what you’ll see. Oftentimes it’s sea otters but you may also get sightings of seals, shorebirds and other shoreline life. It’s always a surprise.

North of Moss Landing toward Santa Cruz, is Seascape Beach in Aptos. It’s a lovely beach and images are from Seascape Beach Resort. The focus is off as the camera pans, but you can get a sense of this secluded spot. This webcam (and the Monterey Harbor one) are on HDOnTap, which has live webcams of amazing places (like Donner Lake dusted with snow or an osprey nest in San Francisco Bay). So, if you can’t get outside, and want to visit some place other than Monterey Bay, HDOnTap allows you to take a multitude of virtual  tours.

At the north end of Monterey Bay is Santa Cruz, a lively beach community. The Small Craft Harbor cam offers a shot of the lighthouse and harbor mouth with boats coming and going, sea lions basking on the breakwater, and sometimes surfers catching waves. It also offers other views that you can control (although I haven’t quite figured our how that works). So have fun!

As you visit Monterey Bay vicariously, we hope you enjoy these eyes on the bay.
Wishing you well wherever you are. And looking forward to your return to our lovely area for real.

Monterey Bay Walk #1

Manresa Beach 2012 by CM Parsons

Manresa State Beach

There are many great ways to experience Monterey Bay — kayaking, diving, whale watching, fishing, sailing. This year, and last, my favorite has been to walk it — the entire shoreline. Walking the length is very different from visiting individual spots. You feel the varied sand flats, get encouraged by a soothing ocean, witness a bounty of wildlife, and are enveloped by the expansiveness.

Monterey Bay is a crescent-shaped indentation along the central California coast. Even though my two walks have been from the north end to the south end, they’re very different. Last year’s walk was self-guided (with support) over a week from Santa Cruz to Monterey (40 miles or 64 km). This year’s walk is with a guided group over three alternating Saturdays from Capitola (just south of Santa Cruz) to Monterey (30 miles or 48 km). Each has been rewarding, but mostly, the bay environs have been amazing.

Monterey Bay MapOver three blog postings, I’ll share with you some of my photos and experiences (but you really should try this yourself). My thanks to Margaret Leonard of Slow Adventure for last year’s walk and to Sandy Lydon and his many Central Coast Secrets for this year’s walk, and for all of the great information.

Santa Cruz Harbor

Santa Cruz Harbor

In October 2012, my bay walk started at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
By the time I reached the harbor, I couldn’t see much. Even on this autumn day, the morning was heavy with fog. Cool and cloudy is great when you’re walking long distances, but not so great while searching for a path in unfamiliar territory (I’m a south bay resident). Monterey Bay has no natural harbors (explorers tended to pass it by). Santa Cruz Harbor was built in the 1960s.

New Brighton Beach

New Brighton State Beach

This year (2013) my bay walk started at New Brighton State Beach in Capitola, again with fog. Fog is a familiar beach companion during the summer (see June gloom post), but usually vanishes by August. For the long walk, the cool fog was again welcome. In the late 1850s to 1880s, this beach was called China Beach and was the site of a Chinese fishing village. Because of the geology, it’s easy for predators to funnel prey (baitfish) into the shallows. (Look at the back of the photo and you’ll see a ruffled sea surface likely caused by such predation.) This also made the spot a good place for a fishing camp.

Rio Del Mar

Rio Del Mar

The wildlife highlight of this stretch of shoreline was the gulls. On several occasions we saw large mixed flocks of Heermann’s gulls, Western gulls and (I think) a few California gulls. This group was at the mouth of Aptos Creek in a little seaside town called Rio Del Mar (the Rio being the creek). It’s a great spot to relax.


Pajaro Dunes

Pajaro Dunes

All along the beach, from Rio Del Mar to Pajaro Dunes (almost nine miles) there are a number of on-the-beach developments, which surprised me when I saw them last year and concerned me this year. I understand that they were built before we knew (or implemented what we knew) about how dynamic beaches are and destructive the ocean can be. But what will these homes, businesses and communities do about the changes coming? The Sanctuary’s SIMoN website states that along the northern bay, sea cliffs are currently averaging a retreat of 0.17 to 2.1 feet (5 to 64 cm) per year and the southern coast is eroding more rapidly than any other region in the state. What will I see on this walk in 10 years? Will I even be able to walk the beach in 10 years?

The loveliest stretch of beach, I think, is Manresa State Beach (the photo at the start of this blog post). According to Sandy Lydon, the name is from a Spanish city where the Jesuit Order was conceived and this location was once home to a Jesuit retreat center. Both times I’ve walked this beach, it has had a special feel to it. It’s a great place to stop and rest.

Sunset Beach

Sunset State Beach

All I have to say about this trail is that I’m glad I’ve never had to use it. It snakes up the dune from the beach and goes I know not where. It looks like a tough climb, especially after having walked 7+ miles (11+ km). This year the path was a welcome sight, though, because I had only a mile or two (2 to 3 km) to go. I stopped and ate my M&Ms (an afternoon treat).


Sunset Beach

Gulls at Sunset State Beach

This is where I’ll take leave of you and end this first of my bay walk postings. Last year I continued past the Pajaro Dunes and crossed the Pajaro River (which wasn’t flowing into the ocean so was an easy crossing). This year we stopped on the north end of Pajaro Dunes at Palm Beach and didn’t get to the Pajaro River. That’s where I’ll start next time.

Sources & References
California Department of Parks and Recreation: State Parks
Manresa State Beach
New Brighton State Beach
Palm Beach
Sunset State Beach
City of Santa Cruz: History
Santa Cruz Port District: History of the Harbor
SIMoN Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: Climate Change