Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Ano Nuevo State Reserve

Yesterday I tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time. I’ve been wanting to try it since I moved to Monterey – and almost exactly a year later I finally get on one.

The weather had been so nice here this last week (in the 80s!) that my boyfriend and I decided we should try SUP this weekend. He had a Groupon for the SUP Shack in Santa Cruz, so he made the reservations and off we went.

The weather turned out to be suboptimal, with the coastal fog making a timely reappearance, but it didn’t matter much. We took a quick lesson, and then were given the freedom to cruise the harbor on our paddle boards. I was surprised at how easily I picked it up. The first 15 minuets of being on the water were shaky, at best. But within those first 15 minutes I got the feel for the board, the knack for paddling, and even figured out how to steer (unless you ask my boyfriend).

After an hour paddling around the harbor, I was cold and hungry so we decided to go get lunch at the Samba Rock Acai Cafe (Yelp), then head on to Año Nuevo State Reserve near Pescadero.

Two Male Elephant Seals Having a Tiff


Island with the Old Lighthouse Keepers House

The hike out to see the elephant seals is about 3-4 miles around trip, and there are plenty of volunteers along the way to answer questions and provide interesting information about history and wildlife of the area. The weather made the place a little eerie, especially with the big old lighthouse keeper’s dilapidated house staring at us from the island, and the hoards of sea gulls screaming in the air above us.

In stark contrast to the surrounding environment, the elephant seals provide almost comical entertainment. Their big dopey eyes and protruding noses giving their faces a uniquely silly expression. The guttural sounds the males make to communicate with each other reminded me of old men in a snoring contest, while the females would occasionally chime in with noises I could best equate to the happy chirruping sounds my cat makes when it’s dinner time.

We stayed out at the end of the trail just watching the elephant seals for quite sometime, occasionally laughing and awwing when they would do something silly or cute. Children and grandparents alike would find the endearing animals fascinating and entertaining.


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