Quail Lodge & Golf Club. Robert Muir Graves designed this championship semiprivate 18-hole course next to Quail Lodge that provides challenging play for golfers of all skill levels. The course, which incorporates 5 lakes, edges the Carmel River. For the most part flat, the walkable course is well maintained, with stunning views, lush fairways, and ultrasmooth greens. 8000 Valley Greens Dr., Carmel, CA, 93923. 831/620–8808 golf shop; 831/620–8866 club concierge. $175 Apr.–Oct., $150 Nov.–Mar. 18 holes, 6500 yards, par 71.

Rancho Cañada Golf Club. With two 18-hole courses at reasonable rates, this public facility is a local favorite. The gently rolling fairways crisscross the Carmel River, and views of the tree-studded Santa Lucia Mountains appear from nearly every vantage point. 4860 Carmel Valley Rd., 1 mile east of Hwy. 1, Carmel, CA, 93923. 831/624–0111 or 800/536–9459. $70. East Course: 18 holes, 6125 yards, par 71; West Course: 18 holes, 6357 yards, par 71.


Links at Spanish Bay. This course, which hugs a choice stretch of shoreline, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Watson, and Sandy Tatum in the rugged manner of traditional Scottish links, with sand dunes and coastal marshes interspersed among the greens. A bagpiper signals the course's closing each day. Nonguests of the Pebble Beach Resorts can reserve tee times up to two months in advance. 17-Mile Dr., north end, Pebble Beach, CA, 93953. 800/654–9300. $270. 18 holes, 6821 yards, par 72.

Pebble Beach Golf Links. Each February, show-business celebrities and golf pros team up at this course, the main site of the glamorous AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament. On most days the rest of the year, tee times are available to guests of the Pebble Beach Resorts who book a minimum two-night stay. Nonguests can reserve a tee time only one day in advance on a space-available basis; resort guests can reserve up to 18 months in advance. 17-Mile Dr., near The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, CA, 93953. 800/654–9300. $495. 18 holes, 6828 yards, par 72.

Peter Hay. The only 9-hole, par-3 course on the Monterey Peninsula open to the public, Peter Hay attracts golfers of all skill levels. It's an ideal place for warm-ups, practicing short games, and for those who don't have time to play 18 holes. 17-Mile Dr. and Portola Rd., Pebble Beach, CA, 93953. 831/622–8723. $30. 9 holes, 725 yards, par 27.

Poppy Hills. An 18-hole course designed in 1986 by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Poppy Hills reopened in 2014 after a yearlong renovation that Jones supervised. Each hole has been restored to its natural elevation along the forest floor, and all 18 greens have been rebuilt with bent grass. Individuals may reserve up to a month in advance. Chef Johnny De Vivo grows and sources organic ingredients that inspire the menus at the course's restaurant. Poppy Hills, owned by a golfing nonprofit, represents good value for this area. 3200 Lopez Rd., at 17-Mile Dr., Pebble Beach, CA, 93953. 831/622–8239. $210. 18 holes, 7002 yards, par 73.5.

Spyglass Hill. With three holes rated among the toughest on the PGA tour, Spyglass Hill, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr., challenges golfers with its varied terrain but rewards them with glorious views. The first five holes border the Pacific, and the other 13 reach deep into the Del Monte Forest. Reservations are essential and may be made up to one month in advance (18 months for resort guests). Stevenson Dr. and Spyglass Hill Rd., Pebble Beach, CA, 93953. 800/654–9300. $385. 18 holes, 6960 yards, par 72.

Horseback Riding

Pebble Beach Equestrian Center. The center offers guided trail rides along the beach and through 26 miles of bridle trails in the Del Monte Forest. The center also hosts world-class equestrian shows and events. 3300 Portola Rd., Pebble Beach, CA, 93953. 831/624–2756. From $65.


Adventures by the Sea. You can rent surreys plus tandem, standard, and electric bicycles from this outfit that also conducts bike and kayak tours and rents kayaks and standup paddleboards. 299 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA, 93940. 831/372–1807; 800/979–3370 reservations. 210 Alvarado Mall, 93940. Stillwater Cove, 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach. Beach at Lovers Point, Pacific Grove. Breakwater Cove, 32 Cannery Row, 93940. 685 Cannery Row, 93940.

Bay Bikes. For bicycle and surrey rentals, visit Bay Bikes at one of its two Monterey shops. You can rent a bike on Cannery Row and drop it off at the company's Carmel location. 585 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA, 93940. 831/655–2453. 486 Washington St., 93940. 3600 The Barnyard, Carmel, 93923.


Randy's Fishing and Whale Watching Trips. In business since 1949, Randy's takes beginning and experienced fishers out to sea. 66 Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, CA, 93940. 831/372–7440 or 800/251–7440.


Del Monte Golf Course. Though overshadowed by its higher-profile Pebble Beach siblings, this classic course that golf champion Johnny Miller once described as "sneaky hard" predates them all. Designed by Charles Maud in 1897 (the first nine) and 1903 (the back nine) and redesigned in 1920 by W. Herbert Fowler, the course has wide fairways—many of them with wicked doglegs—flanked by oak, pine, and cypress trees. Many golfers find the par-five 13th hole their unluckiest: long (512 yards) and straight, it narrows sharply just before the green. 1300 Sylvan Rd., Monterey, CA, 93940. 800/877–0597. $110. 18 holes, 6365 yards, par 72.


Monterey Bay Kayaks. For many visitors the best way to see the bay is by kayak. This company rents equipment and conducts classes and natural-history tours. 693 Del Monte Ave., Monterey, CA, 93940. 831/373–5357 or 800/649–5357.

Scuba Diving

Aquarius Dive Shop. Staffers at Aquarius rent equipment and give diving lessons and tours. The diving-conditions information line is updated daily. 2040 Del Monte Ave., Monterey, CA, 93940. 831/375–1933; 831/657–1020 diving conditions.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary, home to mammals, seabirds, fish, invertebrates, and plants, encompasses a 276-mile shoreline and 4,601 square nautical miles of ocean. Ringed by beaches and campgrounds, it's a place for whale-watching, kayaking, scuba diving, and other water sports. Monterey, CA. 831/647–4201.


Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. From Custom House Plaza, you can walk along the coast in either direction on this 29-mile-long trail and take in spectacular views of the sea. The trail runs from north of Monterey in Castroville south to Pacific Grove, with sections continuing around Pebble Beach. Much of the path follows an old Southern Pacific Railroad route. 888/221–1010.


Thousands of gray whales pass close by the Monterey Coast on their annual migration between the Bering Sea and Baja California, and a whale-watching cruise is the best way to see these magnificent mammals close up. The migration south takes place from December through March; January is prime viewing time. The whales migrate north from March through June. Blue whales and humpbacks also pass the coast; they're most easily spotted in late summer and early fall.

Fast Raft Ocean Safaris. Naturalists lead whale-watching and sightseeing tours of Monterey Bay aboard the 33-foot Ranger, a six-passenger, rigid-hull inflatable boat. The speedy craft slips into coves inaccessible to larger vessels; its quiet engines enable intimate marine experiences without disturbing wildlife. Children ages 12 and older are welcome to participate. 32 Cannery Row, Suite F2, Monterey, CA, 93940. 800/979–3370. $140.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch. The marine biologists here lead three- to five-hour whale-watching tours. 84 Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, CA, 93940. 831/375–4658.

Princess Monterey Whale Watching. Tours are offered daily on a 150-passenger high-speed cruiser and a large 75-foot boat. 96 Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, CA, 93940. 831/372–2203; 831/205–2370 reservations; 888/223–9153 international reservations.


Monterey Bay Kayaks. Rent a kayak to paddle out into Elkhorn Slough for up-close wildlife encounters. 2390 Hwy. 1, at North Harbor, Moss Landing, CA, 95039. 831/373–5357; 800/649–5357 toll free.


Pacific Grove Golf Links. One of the best golf values in the region, the course here has spectacular ocean views on its links-style back nine, which borders 17-Mile Drive. Jack Neville designed this section in 1960. Golfers with a sense of history will appreciate that H. Chandler Egan, a giant of early-20th-century course architecture, designed the front nine. Tee times may be reserved up to 60 days in advance. 77 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove, CA, 93950. 831/648–5775. $46–$68. 18 holes, 5800 yards, par 70.


Morris Dill Tennis Courts. These municipal courts are available for public play for a small hourly fee. The pro shop here rents rackets and offers lessons. 515 Junipero Ave., Pacific Grove, CA, 93950. 831/648–5729.

Adventure Tours

Mount Hermon Adventures. Zip-line through the redwoods at this adventure center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. On some summer weekends there's an aerial adventure course with obstacles and challenges in the redwoods. To join a tour (reservations essential), you must be at least 10 years old and weigh between 75 and 250 pounds. 17 Conference Dr., 9 miles north of downtown Santa Cruz near Felton, Mount Hermon, CA, 95041. 831/430–4357. From $50.


Another Bike Shop. Mountain bikers should head here for tips on the best area trails and to browse cutting-edge gear made and tested locally. 2361 Mission St., at King St., Santa Cruz, CA, 95060. 831/427–2232.

Boats and Charters

Chardonnay II Sailing Charters. The 70-foot Chardonnay II departs year-round from Santa Cruz yacht harbor on whale-watching, sunset, and other cruises around Monterey Bay. Most regularly scheduled excursions cost $64; food and drink are served on many of them. Reservations are essential. Santa Cruz West Harbor, 790 Mariner Park Way, 95062. 831/423–1213.

Stagnaro Sport Fishing, Charters, & Whale Watching Cruises. Stagnaro operates salmon, albacore, and rock-cod fishing expeditions; the fees include bait. The company (aka Santa Cruz Whale Watching) also runs whale-watching, dolphin, and sea-life cruises year-round. 1718 Brommer St., near Santa Cruz Harbor, Santa Cruz, CA, 95062. 831/427–0230; 888/237–7084 tickets; 831/205–2380 international tickets. From $48.


DeLaveaga Golf Course. Woodsy DeLaveaga, a public course set in a hilly park, overlooks Santa Cruz and the bay. With its canyons, tree-lined fairways, and notoriously difficult par-5, dogleg 10th hole, the course challenges novices and seasoned golfers. 401 Upper Park Rd., Santa Cruz, CA, 95065. 831/423–7214. $45 weekdays, $60 weekends/holidays. 18 holes, 5700 yards, par 70.

Pasatiempo Golf Club. Designed by famed golf architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie in 1929, this semiprivate course, set amid undulating hills just above the city, is among the nation's top championship courses. Golfers rave about the spectacular views and challenging terrain. According to the club, MacKenzie, who designed Pebble Beach's exclusive Cypress Point course and Augusta National in Georgia, the home of the Masters Golf Tournament, declared this his favorite layout. 20 Clubhouse Rd., Santa Cruz, CA, 95060. 831/459–9155. From $260. 18 holes, 6125 yards, par 72.


Kayak Connection. From March through May, participants in this outfit's tours mingle with gray whales and their calves on their northward journey to Alaska. Throughout the year, the company rents kayaks and paddleboards and conducts tours of Natural Bridges State Beach, Capitola, and Elkhorn Slough. Santa Cruz Harbor, 413 Lake Ave., No. 3, Santa Cruz, CA, 95062. 831/479–1121. From $60 for scheduled tours.

Venture Quest Kayaking. Explore hidden coves and kelp forests on guided two-hour kayak tours that depart from Santa Cruz Wharf. The tours include a kayaking lesson. Venture Quest also rents kayaks (and wet suits and gear), and arranges tours at other Monterey Bay destinations, including Elkhorn Slough. 2 Santa Cruz Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060. 831/427–2267 kayak hotline; 831/425–8445 rental office. From $30 for rentals, $58 for tours.

Equipment and Lessons

Club-Ed Surf School and Camps. Find out what all the fun is about at Club-Ed. Your first private or group lesson ($90 and up) includes all equipment. Cowell's Beach, at Santa Cruz Dream Inn, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060. 831/464–0177.

Cowell's Beach Surf Shop. This shop sells gear, clothing, and swimwear; rents surfboards, standup paddle boards, and wet suits; and offers lessons. 30 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA, 95060. 831/427–2355.