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Sea Lions, California

Where to see Sea Lions & Seals on the Pacific Coast Highway

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1 May 2019 by Heather Harris

One of the Highway One’s most overlooked draws is its thriving sea lion and seal population. However, they can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look so we’ve drawn up this list to help you on your search. Here are our top five best places to spot California’s favourite marine life:

Point Lobos State Park (Click here for Map ref C)

At this state natural reserve, the sound of barking sea lions carries over rocky headlands to echo in secluded inlets. A myriad of walking trails provide great access while harbour seals, with spotted silver-grey coats, can also be spotted. What’s more, there’s no best time of year to see them with proud bulls and reclining females on show year-round.

Californian baby seal
Baby Seal, California

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Monterey Bay (Click here for Map ref B)

While you don’t have to, renting a kayak is definitely an exciting way to see Monterey’s indigenous sea lion population. Paddle across the bay to Cannery Row, a protected marine conversation area, whose kelp forest afford these magnificent sea mammals rare protection. You’ll even spot the rare southern sea otter, currently a threatened species with only 2,900 left in the wild.

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San Simeon (Click here for Map ref D)

Perhaps best known for its proximity to Hearst Castle, San Simeon also features an impressive colony of elephant seals. Males, growing up to five metres in length, are the largest seal in the northern hemisphere and, with their enormous nose, are well worth a trip. The best time to see them is from December through to March when winter storms and windy conditions bring them to the shore for pupping season.

Harbour seal on a rock
Californian Harbour Seal

San Francisco (Click here for Map ref A)

California’s bohemian golden-child has possibly the most accessible sea lions in the state. Ever since its refurbishment in 1989, more and more californianus – to give them their proper name – have been ’hauling out’ on the now famous Pier 39. While it’s unclear as to why they’ve chosen this particular location, as many as 1,700 have been reported here with some weighing up to half a ton.

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Cambria (Click here for Map ref E)

The seal rookery at Piedras Blancas is home to over 17,000 animals, including the ever-popular elephant seal. Spending up to ten months of the year in the open ocean and diving up to depths of 5,000 feet for anything between 15 minutes and two hours, they can be forgiven for their lack of grace on land.

And, knitting these sights together is the fabled Pacific Coast Highway. For journeys along this fabled stretch of tarmac, and any number of great American road trips, call Wexas on 020 7590 0610 to organise your next adventure. Alternatively read more about how Wexas creates tailor-made holidays.

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