True, it’s not a secret. Nothing really is anymore thanks to people like us who blab about everything we find on the internets. But if you’re looking for an up-close encounter with wild and endangered sea otters you may not find a better location than Moss Landing, California.
We never figured out what attracts them here. It’s certainly not the kind of quiet and pristine environment in which we found these reclusive marine mammals twice before (once in Big Sur and again in Point Lobos).
The murky canals and bustling harbor of Moss Landing don’t seem like optimal otter living conditions, but then what do I know about the comforts of sea otters? Maybe they enjoy an “all you can eat” buffet of fishing boat scraps. People have certainly settled places for lesser reasons.
Whatever draws them, it does so in large enough numbers that visitors have a reasonably good chance of actually spotting one; something that can’t be said for elsewhere on the coast. More than that, the otters who frequent these waters are a bit more acclimated to human activity and don’t dive under the waves and disappear at the first sight of people. Only in an aquarium are you likely to get a closer look.
This “secret” otter hideout is as easy to find as it is to drive right past. It’s a simple left turn onto Moss Landing Road off Highway One, about midway between Montery and Santa Cruz. I’d say “you can’t miss it” but, if you’re as good with directions as we are, you probably can. We’ve marked the location on the map below, but it still might work best if you plug it into your GPS . . . 36.8044° N, 121.7858° W.