With summer fast approaching and sweet sunny days ahead, there are plenty of good reasons to go play along the central California coast and visit HI Monterey hostel, which makes the perfect base (with free parking) for all manner of fun and adventure. While the town is known for its famous aquarium and John Steinbeck’s immortalized Cannery Row, the greater Monterey area offers plenty for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in, from serene, scenic hikes to exhilarating action out on the Monterey Bay. Take a look at a few of our favorite options for things to do outdoors in Monterey and get going!
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking
The waters of Monterey Bay are nice and calm, making them ideal for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding for both beginners and pros. Along with an opportunity to enjoy the stunning views of Cannery Row from the water, you’ll also get up-close and personal with local wildlife, like seals, otters, and water birds. The hostel staff can put you in touch with a number of local companies offering all the gear you’ll need for both kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, plus short lessons if you need brushing up. And if the bay seems too intimidating, there’s also Elkhorn Slough, a tidal salt marsh with even more opportunities to see otters and other California creatures from the water.
NOTE: Due to storms and bad weather, some of the parks and roads around Monterey and Big Sur might not be open or accessible. Check individual park websites and local news for up-to-date information.
From the easy to the strenuous, there are plenty of awesome day hikes to do in and around the Monterey area that, more often than not, include scenic vistas of the breathtaking bay. A good, not-too-difficult place to start is Jack’s Peak County Park, where you can do a short loop trail featuring views of the Carmel Valley and Point Lobos. For something a little more challenging, visit Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park where you can choose trails with everything from waterfalls and redwoods to straight-up spectacular ocean views. Andrew Molera State Park also offers great options for hikers of all skill levels, including walks with beach access.
Get up close and personal with the ancient volcanic rock formations at Pinnacles National Park during a rock climbing excursion within the impressive natural preserve. There are excellent beginner climbs on the park’s east side – ”Tourist Trap” and ”Discovery Wall” – for those looking to get real-world experience outside of the gym, while the west side offers hard-core climbs for the seasoned pros. The rocks in Pinnacles are volcanic breccia, which means they’re softer than the granite most climbers are used to, so it’s best to come with a group and make sure you have all the right safety equipment.
Monterey is a haven for those who like to explore from the seat of a bike, and not just because of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, which stretches along 18 miles of shoreline past some of the town’s iconic sights. There are also plenty of options along scenic routes and within parks for those looking for off-road and long-distance adventures. Fort Ord National Monument is a favorite of cyclists since there are easy paved routes and more challenging mountain bike loops to try, plus along the way there are opportunities to stop for great views and wildlife.
HI USA Tip: Get the inside scoop of more fun things to do while you’re in the area with Markus’s Monterey Musts.