Yesterday morning, I went on a kayaking tour of Monterey Bay, or at least the coastline from Fisherman's Wharf up to the Monterey Aquarium and back. For the people who have been there, you know what I'm talking about, and for the people who haven't, well, I think it was about a mile's worth of paddling, each way?
Really the distance wasn't the point. The point of this particular excursion was the wildlife. I can honestly say that I have not actually seen sea lions, harbor seals, or sea otters out in the wild (such as it is) before yesterday. Now I have. We got as close as all the relevant laws will allow, which is to say about 50 to 100 feet away. You see, if we get any closer, we'll disturb their natural activities, which could actually harm them in the end, so we're banned from doing so. The guide for our tour kept a careful watch on the tour (which was only five people, not counting him, so it wasn't exactly hard), but other kayakers out there had to be warned off at least once.
Probably the coolest part of the tour was right at the end, when we were paddling along a stone wall nicknamed the "Invertebrate Wall" by the tour guide. There were sea stars attached to the stone, which was pretty neat... but then the sea lion burst out of the water about 20 feet away. I was kind of worried about that whole distance thing, but they were busy feeding, and it's not like we could do anything about that. You could actually see fish jumping in every direction to try to get out of the way.
... Unfortunately, most of the allure here is visual, and I don't have any of the pictures on my computer. Well, if you're ever in Monterey, it's totally worth it to take a kayak out along the coastline and see what you can see. Trust me, I had fun with it.