Moss Landing is a tiny town on the Monterey Bay in California's Central Coast.Moss Landing is an often-overlooked destination that lies almost exactly halfway between Monterey and Santa Cruz, and while it does not have the amenities of some of the nearby towns, it offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and whale watching.
There is also a large slough, called Elkhorn Slough, to the north of Moss Landing.
The majority of visitors arrive on the Pacific Coast Highway (California highway 1), which is the main road through the town. Dolan Road goes to the northern part of town, where the power plant is.
There is a harbor at Moss Landing, and it could be reached by boat from nearby towns.
Moss Landing is so small that you can easily navigate it by walking, although a car is helpful to reach nearby attractions like the slough and boat trips, which are mostly to the north of the town.
- 1 Downtown Moss Landing, 8011 Moss Landing Road (Just off Route One). Moss Landing has a small downtown area with several restaurants and small stores.
- 2 Elkhorn Slough, 1700 Elkhorn Rd. Elkhorn Slough is one of the largest tidal wetlands in California. The wetlands are home to over 700 species, including more than 200 species of birds, and visitors with binoculars are extremely likely to spot sea otters, seals and sea lions hanging out in the waters. Aquatic activities in the wetlands include kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, with visitors expected to stay 100 feet from all wildlife. There are five miles of hiking trails, with several lookouts set up around the shore; note that many areas are off-limits to protect wildlife.
- 3 Moss Landing Community Park. Small garden area near the harbor.
Moss Landing is the departure point for several whale watching companies. Odds of spotting a whale are approximately 95%. Humpback whales are in the bay from March through December, gray whales migrate from December to mid-May, and blue whales are most often seen between July and August. Dolphins and orcas (killer whales) are present year round. Travelers should dress warmly as temperatures are typically 10°F cooler on the water, and those who are prone seasickness should take medication prior to setting off as the bay can often be rough (note that conditions are typically calmer in the morning).
- 1 Blue Ocean Whale Watching, 7881 Sandholdt Rd, ✉ BlueOceanWhaleWatch@gmail.com. If whales are not spotted visitors are given a voucher for a free return trip (orcas are counted as whales, even though they actually belong to the dolphin family). Most trips last about three hours on boats holding 49 passengers, and advance purchase is recommended. $30-50 based on length of tour.
- 2 Sanctuary Cruises, 7881 Sandholdt Rd ("A" Dock). Whale watching is offered on a 43-foot, 39-passenger boat. If no whales are seen then the next trip is free. The company promotes its sustainable practices, with biodiesel used to reduce environmental impact. 3-3½ hour trips: adult $55, child $45; 2-2½ hour trips: $45 flat rate.
There are few small shops and markets in town, but no grocery stores or shopping malls.
- 1 Moss Landing Cafe, 421 Moss Landing Rd, ☏ . Daily 6:30AM-3PM, dinner F Sa only 5PM-8:30PM. Known for their deep-fried artichokes, this cafe has attentive service and fresh food. They get high marks for their breakfast offerings, although their lunch and dinner selections are less exciting and focus heavily on fried foods.
- 1 Captain's Inn - Bed & Breakfast, 8122 Moss Landing Rd, ☏ . A nautical-themed bed & breakfast with waterfront views. Rooms are uniquely decorated, have flat screen TVs, and a hot breakfast is served each morning. Additional amenities include cookies, feather pillows, and free WiFi. Eight of the rooms have fireplaces.
- 2 KOA Campground, 7905 Sandholdt Rd, ☏ . This campground accommodates self-contained RVs only. Campground amenities include electrical hookups, room for 60' vehicles, WiFi, cable TV, and firewood (additional cost).
- Santa Cruz - large coastal town to the north of Moss Landing
- Monterey - coastal town to the south of Moss Landing
- Watsonville - town in the fruit-growing region inland from Moss Landing
- Marina - town ten miles south of Moss Landing with some interesting nature viewing, parkland, and other attractions
|Routes through Moss Landing|
|Santa Cruz ← Watsonville ←||N S||→ Marina → Monterey|