Sea otter mother and pup sharing a meal
Sea otter mother and pup sharing a meal

I have wanted to explore sea otter tours for a while, but only now gotten around to it. All I can say is that I was very much overdue to take one, and now I’ll be taking sea otter tours on a regular basis. I went out with Elkhorn Slough Safari’s and had a truly amazing time. I’ll get to the full experience soon enough.

Sea Otter Tours Monterey

I live close enough to Monterey, CA to make it a day trip if needed, and this time needed to be a day trip. Having heard about sea otter tours more than a few times, I always thought they sounded like a fun time. Although I know a good spot in Moss Landing, CA where I can usually watch otters with a short walk from a parking spot, that is nothing like real otter tours. Although it seems many people look for sea otter tours in Monterey, you really want to be looking in Moss Landing, CA, which is just about 30 minutes north of Monterey. The specific area you are looking for, is Elkhorn Slough.

Elkhorn Slough Safari sea otter tours

There are a few types of otter tours that explore Elkhorn Slough otters. I give two BIG thumbs up to the experience of going out with Elkhorn Slough Safari. Especially if you are a photographer, this is the otter tour to do. Captain Joe is a photographer, so he understands how to position the boat to give the best opportunities for photos. He has been doing this for many years, so knows Elkhorn Slough very well. His experience also allows him to guide the boat to approach wildlife without scaring the animals away.

Not only do you get an experienced captain at the helm, but each tour has a naturalist on board. The naturalist will be sure to let you know what you are seeing. If you are wanting sea otter facts, you will get more than you dreamed of. Ian was the naturalist on the sea otter tour I took. He was not only truly knowledgeable, but very friendly and helpful too.

Get the photographers package

One of the great aspects of Elkhorn Slough Safari, is that they offer a photographers package. It costs a little more than a single seat, but if you are a photographer wanting to maximize your chances for photos, it is well worth the small added cost.

So what do you get for the added price of the photographers package? Basically, you get the entire back of the boat. This gives you the ability to go from side to side as much as you want. You also have the only view to the stern. I could not have been more impressed with how both Captain Joe and Ian were willing to work with me to get photos. It was clear they were working to give everyone the best tour possible. At the same time, it also felt like they were catering to me. There were times when I felt like I may have been in Ian’s way as he needed to take care of boat and tour business, but he continued to make me feel like I came first.

Brown pelican skimming the water
Brown pelican skimming the water

Elkhorn Slough wildlife

What I did not understand when I was looking into sea otter tours in Elkhorn Slough, was that the draw may be the sea otters, but there is a wealth of wildlife throughout the slough area. I truly lost track of the types of birds we saw. If you enjoy watching pelicans as much as I do, you will not be disappointed! At some points, it seemed like they were everywhere. This is just a short list of birds we saw: cormorants, blue heron, great egret, river turns, sand pipers, avocets, and black neck stilts.

In addition to the birds, we saw plenty of sea lions and harbor seals. The sea lions were largely around the Moss Landing Harbor, but we saw a few in the water on our way to Elkhorn Slough also. The harbor seals were up and down the slough, with many of them sleeping in decent sized rafts.

Sea otter facts

If you ever wanted answers to things like what do sea otters eat? Do you want to see sea otters sleeping? There is so much to learn on sea otter tours! If you want to know about these and more, you need to get to Moss Landing and take one of these sea otter tours.

If you are like me, you may go for the sea otters the first time, but you’ll go back for all the wildlife in the area, and the great experience of being on the water for a couple hours.

Moss Landing Harbor
Moss Landing Harbor