Morro Bay is perfectly situated by a snug harbor next to the world’s second largest coastal monolith. Unfortunately, a gigantic power plant with three towering stacks sprawls between the landmark rock and the heart of town. In spite of this monumental manmade intrusion on natural grandeur (dating from a less environmentally aware time), the town has become a major tourist destination. The area was settled more than a century ago as a port for ranchers and dairy farmers. A large commercial fishing fleet evolved later, in keeping with the locale’s significance as the only natural harbor between Santa Barbara and Monterey.
The fishing fleet has been joined by commercial charter, sightseeing, and rental boats along the Embarcadero. The jaunty waterfront is further enlivened by a hodgepodge of restaurants, lounges, gift shops and amusements. Many of the dining places offer delightful views of the bay and rock. Appropriately, nearly all feature fresh local seafood. Broad sandy ocean beaches extend north of the landmark rock. An estuary teeming with sea life, birds and animals, and the gentle bay are separated from the ocean by miles of sand dunes along a narrow peninsula to the south. These features, plus picturesque headlands and secret coves beyond, provide a bonanza of recreation opportunities in state and local parks. To serve a burgeoning influx of tourists, lodgings are abundant. The best are along a bluff above the colorful Embarcadero. These provide nifty nautical views and somehow showcase the splendid rock.