The estuary is a great place to explore!

Tourists and locals alike enjoy boating, biking, paddling, diving, birdwatching, and hiking in and around Morro Bay. The miles of bay-front trails and protected waters make the bay a great place for all these activities.

What is an estuary?

An estuary is where freshwater from rivers meets saltwater from the ocean. Morro Bay was designated a national and state estuary in 1995. It truly is a special place. Many animals rely on the sheltered waters of Morro Bay for food, places to breed, and migration stopovers. Did you know that estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world? Many of the fish our local fishermen catch offshore and we eat at local restaurants spend part of their life in an estuary. Plus, Morro Bay is an important stop-over for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway, the bird super highway from the Arctic to South America. You can learn more about our estuary by visiting the Morro Bay Estuary Nature Center, free and open to the public. Click here to contact us or for directions.

What can you do on your visit to Morro Bay?

Plenty. Please visit the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau’s website for more info.

Here’s a list of our staff’s favorite Morro Bay activities:

•  Go for a paddle on the bay
•  Hike up Black Hill for a view of the entire bay
•  Watch the sea otters by Morro Rock (but keep a respectful distance)
•  Visit the State Park Museum
•  Take a trip to the Elfin Forest a native chaparral forest
•  Watch our local fishermen unload the daily catch

See our map for these special sites and more around the bay MBNEP Map (PDF)

Don’t forget!

Morro Bay is a special place that is also a marine protected area. Please take care that you don’t accidentally harm the area or its wildlife on your visit. Click below for more information on marine protected areas and protecting the snowy plover:

Morro Bay SMRMA

Morro Bay SMR

Protecting the Snowy Plover (PDF)

Remember to:

•  Keep a respectful distance from wildlife when walking on the shore and boating. Use binoculars for observation.
•  Don’t allow your dogs to chase birds and wildlife and make sure you pick up their waste.
•  Pack it in, pack it out – be sure to take any trash with you and dispose of it properly.
•  Be sure you understand and adhere to all the State Park rules and fishing regulations for the bay.

Want to bring your class on a visit to the bay? Click here for more information.


Morro Bay National Estuary Program brings together citizens, local governments, non-profits, agencies, and landowners to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary.

Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.