Founded in 1984, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at the end of Cannery Row in Monterey Bay, California and the Jellyfish exhibit is second to none. The aquarium and its exhibits are widely popular and have an annual attendance of 1.8 million visitors. With over 600 different species of sea life, it’s one of the most ecologically diverse aquariums in the world. It’s also set apart from other aquariums due to its ocean water pumping system, which essentially connects all of its exhibits to the ocean directly. The water is filtered for clarity during the day but at night, plankton and other naturally occurring minerals are let through. This allows the sea life to receive the same nutrients as they would in the wild.
One of many amazing exhibits is dedicated to jellyfish. The Jellyfish float freely through a brightly lit enclosure and against a background. Standing in a dark room, you’re treated to a view of these glowing, floating blobs of jelly, each of which creates a different picture each time.
Beyond the fish.
There’s a lot to see in the surrounding area as well. 17 Mile Drive will take you to the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course and past countless homes of celebrities. What is most intriguing to me is the craggy coastline that you follow and the numerous vistas that prevent themselves. Each of these outcrops are inviting you to just stop and snap a few photos. Fog is a common visitor to this part of California thanks to the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. But if weather permits, be sure to set up for a stunning sunset over the Pacific.
For you motorheads out there, the famous Laguna Seca Raceway is a short drive. Known for the challenging corkscrew, this race course will challenge even the most seasoned driver, but it’s an absolute delight for photographers, with great vantage points throughout the course. I suggest setting up near the bottom of the corkscrew. Here you can get a glimpse of the cars cresting the top of the hill and navigating their way through the curve.
What lens to use?
I am, of course, a fan of wide angle lenses and landscape photography. When visiting Monterey a 14-40 or similar is recommended. However, when visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, bring a long lens with a low f-stop. It’s a dimly lit building with lots of crowds, so a 70-200m f/2.8 or similar will come in handy.
Whether you’re visiting the Monterey Bay Area, or on holiday in San Francisco, I highly recommend making the Monterey Bay Aquarium part of your trip. It’s well worth it, and the area is steeped in tradition.