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“A great day trip from San Francisco”

Ano Nuevo State Reserve
Ranked #2 of 13 things to do in Pescadero
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Home to the largest mainland seal colony in the world.
Berkeley, California
Level Contributor
130 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“A great day trip from San Francisco”
Reviewed January 20, 2014

Between December and January is the best time to see the elephant seals in action. Males claim territory in November, females arrive a bit later. There is a lot of action on the beach, and in January there are also lots of babies. You need to make a reservation for a docent led tour well in advance. It is surely worth it! It is an hour drive south from San Francisco on Highway 1. A beautiful ride!

Visited January 2014
1 Thank Grandpa284
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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211 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
32 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Best place to see the elephant seals...”
Reviewed January 14, 2014

We went on the guided elephant seal walk and had a great time. You won't believe how close you get to the elephant seals. The docents are very knowledgable. Wear comfortable shoes to walk on the sand. Take water with you. Had a picnic lunch by the visitor center and enjoyed the view.

Visited December 2013
Thank clevetravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alamo, California
Level Contributor
166 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
“Elephant seals and their hareems”
Reviewed January 10, 2014

Good long hike to the dunes with an enthusiastic and informed guide. Well done Cheryl. This is one strange and interesting visit! I think we all got to know more about elephant seals and their mating performances than even they know.

Visited January 2014
Thank BobOxenburgh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Davis, California
Level Contributor
286 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“Incredible Viewing of Elephant Seals!”
Reviewed January 7, 2014

Recently visited the park for the 2.5 hour guided tour of the Bull Elephant Seals during their breeding season (Jan-March). Amazing experience to see and hear the bulls braying and throwing their massive weight around while claiming their turf and protecting their harem. The bulls are the size of a SUV & are a sight to behold while tussling with fellow males in the water or while pestering the poor pregnant female seals on shore. We were able to get close for some great photos of moms, babies, and bellowing males. A few solitary elephant seals were just randomly snoozing on the dunes or sand trails as we passed. Most sightings are from a distance though to protect the habitat, so bring binoculars. Dress in layers as we had an unseasonably warm day for Jan. and most of us were climbing the sand in hot & heavy clothing. The tour covers approximately 3.5 miles & is considered moderately strenuous due to the uneven walking conditions on the trails & sand. Our volunteer guide (Lindsey) was fabulous and went out of her way to make sure we had all the photos, information, and views that we wanted. Our tour went about 30-40 minutes past the allotted time, so be prepared to bring water if you need it. If you take one of the earlier morning tours, you might be lucky enough to see more wildlife (bobcats, deer, coyotes). I highly recommend this jewel of a park. Nice gift shop, with friendly staff, too.
Have lived in Calif. for over 20 years and it took me this long to get there. So glad we made the trip! Just a couple hours from our hometown, a beautiful, impossibly scenic drive down Hwy. 1, and lots of fun places to stop and/or spend the night along the way (Pescardero, Hwy. 1 Brewing Company, Bean Hollow Park & Beach, Butano Park, The Distillery near Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay & its Brewing Company, etc. etc).
Please go and support our national park system and one of California's unparalleled attractions.

Visited January 2014
2 Thank hollisJ_dr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
18 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“awe inspiring experience”
Reviewed January 2, 2014

We were absolutely in awe by the sight of these magnificent creatures, not only by their size, but also by their unique life style. We were very surprised how close we got to the elephant seals. I was a little concerned of the general hygiene of the area as most places with large number of animals may smell. But since the elephant seals don’t eat or drink while they are on shore, it is not a problem at all. Since the view points are behind the sand dunes, make sure wear comfortable shoes that can walk on slope of loose sand.

Visited December 2013
Thank BagelBear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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