Ano Nuevo Elephant Seals

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2008

We wanted to stay overnight after our seal-watching adventure in Ano Nuevo. I don't know the area at all. Can anyone recommend a very inexpensive place to stay nearby or in Santa Cruz for 2 adults + 2 kids? Thanks! Seal Watcher

Try the nearby hostel! Hostels are not just for teenaged backpackers. Recently my husband spent a couple of nights with our toddler at the hostel in Marin, and had a great time. There's a communal kitchen and so many neat people to meet. I have not been to this hostel at Pigeon Point but I have heard they are hospitable to families. Lisa in Oakland

A great place to stay while seal watching is Pigeon Point Hostel at the PP Lighthouse. It is a set of cottages formerly used by lighthouse staff. Each has private family room, gender segregated dorm rooms, bathroom, kitchen, dining and living room. They also have a fantastic hot tub, overlooking the ocean, privacy screened and situated directly in front of the lighthouse. They can be reached at 650-879-0633, pplhostel [at], and David

Jan 1998

Does anyone have any experience with the Ano Nuevo Elephant Seal Walk? We have a reservation just after Xmas, and will be taking our two year old and his 4 month old brother (in a back pack). Any tips/insights/recommendations etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Melissa

To hear more about the elephant seals and the Ano Nuevo Reserve, call their information line at 415-879-0227. Unfortunately, their reservation service went bankrupt in December, but they are working to get a new service lined up. For now, you can get tickets on site between 8:30-9:30 AM and 11:30 AM-12:30 PM. You can also take a look at their website: . Best time to go is during the week--they are booked up for weekends right now through the beginning of February. The hike takes about 2 and a half hours and is about 3 miles of walking, and costs $4.00 per person. Sarah

Ano Nuevo Elephant Seal walk: I went on this 6 years ago, with two 2 year olds and things might have changed a bit since then, but basically my advice is to be prepared to either carry your 2 year old most of the way, or to jolly her along with songs and games if you want her to walk it. When a person is that small it seems like a 10 mile walk to them. But, it's all worth while. Dianna

Ano Nuevo is a great place to visit and see Elephant Seals.

I recommend that you call the visitor center down there if you can find the number and speak to a ranger about your plans. You will need to keep your 2 year old close to you because the bulls charge at each other and don't care what or who is in their way. If your 2-year old is anything like mine, he/she will stick close to you

If I remember my elephant seal-seasons right, there will be new pups on the beach so the cows will be very protective of them. In addition, the seals are known to have a fungus that can cause a skin irritation to humans, so it is best to wear long pants and sturdy shoes. This is one of the reasons that the rules are that you keep your distance from the seals. There is a 1-2 mile hike out to the beach from the visitor center. Take rain gear if the weather looks cloudy at all. Have a great time! Jeanne

It's great. It's wise to check the weather report before going there with young kids; it's definitely less enjoyable with rain and wind in your face. If your kids are used to long-ish walks, it's one of the nicest nature walks in this area. There's plenty of information given about the seals. I highly recommend it. Nancy

I took my daughter on the seal walk when she was about 9-10 years old and it is a rough walk. You're hiking up & down sand dunes for quite a distance and they only have one or two rest stops during the whole trip. During our trip a HUGE elephant seal took-off after another elephant seal to fight and our group was in a close proximity and had to high-tail it out of that area quickly. I was amazed at how quickly those huge seals can move!! The guide said that this does not happen often but you should be prepared if it happens to you. Dress warm because it's cold, damp and windy, especially if your reservation is for the morning hours. My daughter and I loved the trip, but then again I didn't have to carry her the whole way! Stacie

Jan 1998

About the elephant seal walk: we went a few years ago and found it amazingly great. We got to within a few feet of the seals. Saw amazing things straight out of a national geographic nature film.

Our trip was part of a fund-raiser and relatively pricey, but you can do-it-yourself for much less if you call ahead. There may be a long hike to get to the beach so ask. (Our relatively pricey trip included a docent-driven bus ride to the beach so our only hike was the 2 miles or so along the beach.)

As I recall, portions of the beach are wheelchair accessible thanks to PG volunteers, but do call. Jerry