Guided Tours - Morro Bay Nature Tours
When visiting California's Central Coast, a guided Morro Bay nature tour should be at the top of your list! Besides being unbelievably scenic, Morro Bay is home to one of the nation’s most important coastal waterways. It's estuary is one of national significance and is part of the Morro Bay National Estuary program. Research, education, and preservation programs carried out by MBNEP help to keep the estuary healthy. You'll learn more about this, and learn the fascinating history of Morro Bay as we paddle the length of the sand spit.
The sand spit, which connects the harbor with Montana de Oro State Park to the south, is about four miles long. You'll have a chance to explore the various plant communities of the sand dunes. On your tour, we'll make sure you see many birds, mammals and other creatures that live here. Morro Bay has a record number of resident sea otters, a great diversity of shore birds, and lots of interesting fish . You're pretty much guaranteed to see something of interest any time of day. Click here to see one example of the critters we frequently encounter.
Morro Bay's inner harbor is the perfect place to enjoy stand up paddleboarding. The water is normally very calm, free from breaking waves and strong tidal currents. There is also relatively light boat traffic. On our guided tours, we paddle with the incoming or outgoing tidal current from launch point to end point. We'll get picked up in the passenger van and returned to the beach where we started. This way, we make good time and the trip is pretty much effortless. You’ll still get a great workout while paddling though!
If you want to enjoy the activity of paddling all while viewing the wildlife, you'll want to book a guided SUP tour! Never tried stand up paddleboarding? No problem- we’ll start your tour by giving you a quick SUP lesson and help you along the way. Pricing for guided tours varies depending on group size, duration of tour, and staff needed. Please call for more information and for pricing for your group.
Meet some of Morro Bay's aquatic residents:
The Sea Otter
Morro Bay's most popular animal, and once nearly extinct, the sea otter has made a successful comeback to the area, with over 60 individuals in the local population! While paddling in the harbor, please respect their need for space and need for sleep! They are a federally protected marine mammal, so give them at least 10 board lengths distance. If you happen to see an otter that is entangled in fishing line or one that appears sick, please report it the Marine Mammal Center: (415) 289-SEAL (7325). Do not attempt to pick one up as they have very sharp teeth and WILL bite!
The Bat Ray
One of the most exciting marine critters to see while stand up paddling in Morro Bay is one of our resident bat rays! Bat rays can be found throughout the harbor, but they tend to stay in the shallow zones. They are quite large, and gracefully glide over the sandy bottom. If you are still, they will stick close by long enough for you to get a good look. Sometimes, they will rest in one place on the sand just beneath your board! As you paddle along, keep a look out for shallow craters in the sandy bottom where the bat rays feed and rest. Check out this video of a bat ray encounter during a tour!
The Sea Slug
This is a sea slug known as Navanax (genus) that is common on the sandy bottom all throughout the harbor and estuary. It is a predatory slug that eats other forms of slug and other invertebrates. The body is brown but most have very colorful markings in blue and yellow and are quite interesting to look at. If you touch one, the first thing you'll notice is the slime layer all over its body! This is a mucous layer that allows it to slide along on sand and aquatic plants.
The Harbor Seal
One of the most enduring marine mammals of Morro Bay's harbor is the harbor seal, Phoca vitulina. It differs from the better known California sea lion by lacking ear flaps, nor does it have the use of its hind limbs in walking like the sea lion. It is common to hear the harbor seals snorting as they lounge in the shallow water. This is due to their unique v-shaped nostrils. Harbor seals also differ from sea lions by having a distinct pattern of spots which can help biologists identify individuals. When you are paddling in shallow along the sand spit, please respect the harbor seals' need for resting periods and go around them without causing them to dive and swim away.
Interested in more marine life videos taken in Morro Bay harbor? Check out our YouTube channel!
“Our 12 yo daughter was absolutely mesmerized … she loves Life Science, and it was all coming to life in front of her.” ~Laura