Winter is a beautiful time to visit Cambria, and not only for the lush surroundings, stunning sunsets and fewer crowds. Winter is also prime time for viewing wildlife on the Central Coast. That’s right, winter is peak season for spotting marine life, including elephant seals, whales and more. Animal lovers and National Geographic enthusiasts won’t want to delay. It’s time to pack your bags (and cameras and binoculars) for a memorable winter vacation in Cambria.
During the winter months on the coast, you’ll likely see Gray whales, dolphins and Monarch butterflies. The months of February and March are particularly noteworthy for the number of Northern Elephant Seals that flock to the Central Coast just north of Cambria. This extraordinary marine mammal spends 8-10 months a year in the open ocean. During this time, they migrate thousands of miles, twice a year, to make the stretch of land along the Central Coast their onshore home for a couple of months. During this time, they give birth and mate before heading back out to sea.
Seasonal Guided Elephant Seal Walks
Just in time for elephant seal season on the Central Coast, there’s a new special guided Elephant Seal Tour you won’t want to miss. These tours take place in an area north of San Simeon that has never been opened to the public before. Groups are led by a California State Park guide for an extraordinary 45-minute experience. Participants can learn about the elephant seal life cycle while watching them in the wild, from birthing cows and adorable pups to larger-than-life bulls battling it out. It’s a rare chance to get up-close and personal to these remarkable animals and experience them in their natural habitat. Of course, this is all experienced from a safe and respectful distance to not disturb the animals.
Tours are $13 and take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March. Tours begin at 9am, 10:30am and 12:30pm, and are limited to 20 people per tour. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and are sold same day only. Fees are collected at the meeting location. However, tickets may also be purchased at the Visitor Services Office: 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452.
Coastal Discovery Celebration Film Festival
If watching wildlife from the comforts of the indoors is more your style, don’t miss the Coastal Discovery Celebration Film Festival held at Hearst Castle’s Theater. The critically-acclaimed film, National Parks Adventure, will be shown on the Theater’s five-story screen, bringing the wild beauty of our national parks to life. Narrated by Robert Redford, this awe-inspiring film is a chance to experience the great outdoors without leaving your seat. It also is sure to leave a lasting impression. Screenings are twice nightly at 6 pm and 7 pm from now through February. The movie is free and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
There’s no better time to experience the beauty and wildlife of Cambria, and when you stay at any of the Cambria Inns Collection of Cambria hotels, including Blue Dolphin Inn, Sand Pebbles Inn, Moonstone Cottages and Castle Inn, you’ll be staying in comfortable accommodations directly across from Moonstone Beach. You may even spot whales or dolphins from your room! We can’t think of a more memorable way to experience Cambria.