Things to See in Morro Bay
Morro Bay is a waterfront village located in San Luis Obispo County south of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, and north of Pismo Beach and Avila Beach in central California, and also located along California famous pacific highway route 1.
Morro Bay consists of three unique California Central Coast communities: Morro Bay, Cayucos, and Los Osos. Morro Bay Area has become famous for its beautiful beaches and state parks, bird estuary’s, and mostly thanks to its iconic Morro Rock that featured in many tv shows and movies.
The few visitors who find this hidden gem love the variety of outdoor activities in the coastal town including fishing, bird watching, surfing, kayaking, golfing, beachcombing, but also photographers who come from all over the world to capture stunning photographs of the sunset behind Morrow Rock.
Morro Rock, the last in a chain of long-extinct volcanoes that covers over 50 acres at its base and towers 576 feet above the entrance to Morro Bay. The waters that make up the bay are contained within a three-mile sandpit and the shores of Morro Bay and Los Osos. The local fishing industry is one of the most important along the California Coast. On the Embarcadero, you can shop, walk to Tidelands Park and play on the pirate ship, or simply sit and watch as the boats make their way to sea.
Brief history of Morro Bay: The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portola expedition, came down Los Osos Valley near San Luis Obispo and camped near today’s Morro Bay on September 8, 1769. Franciscan missionary and expedition member Juan Crespi noted in his diary that “we saw a great rock in the form of a round morro”.
Morro Rock later gave its name to the town. The descriptive term morro is common to the Spanish, Portuguese and Italian languages, and the word is part of many place names where there is a distinctive and prominent hill-shaped rock formation. Note that the similar Spanish descriptive word “moro” indicates a bluish color rather than a shape.
The town of Morro Bay was founded by Franklin Riley in 1870 as a port for the export of dairy and ranch products. He was instrumental in the building of a wharf which has now become the Embarcadero. During the 1870s, schooners could often be seen at the Embarcadero picking up wool, potatoes, barley, and dairy products.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the town has been a center for beach holidays. Tourism is the city’s largest industry, coexisting with the town’s commercial fishery. The most popular beach is on the north side of Morro Rock, north of the harbor. There are also excellent beaches north and south of the town which are now owned by the State of California.
In the 1940s, Morro Bay developed an abalone fishing industry; it peaked in 1957, and stocks of abalone have declined significantly due to overfishing. Halibut, sole, rockfish, albacore, and many other species are still caught by both commercial and sport vessels. In addition, oysters are aquacultured in the shallow back bay.
A portion of Morro Bay is also designated as a state and national bird sanctuary. It is also a state and national estuary. Much of Morro Bay is a state wildlife area where waterfowl hunting is conducted during the season and is one of the few areas in California where Pacific brant are pursued. In 2007, the California Fish and Game Commission designated Morro Bay as a marine protected area named the Morro Bay State Marine Reserve.
The area around the base of Morro Rock is open to visitors, with parking lots and paths. However, climbing the rock itself is prohibited except with a permit, both due to risk of injury, and because it is a peregrine falcon reserve.
Morro Rock is one in a series of similar plugs that stretch in a line inland called the Nine Sisters. It is possible that the landscape moved over a volcanic hot spot through the ages.
Tiny Morro Bay Harbor: Morro Bay is a natural embayment with an artificial harbor constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is the only all-weather small craft commercial and recreational harbor between Santa Barbara and Monterey. Morro Rock was originally surrounded by water, but the Army built a large artificial breakwater and road across the north end of the harbor, linking Morro Rock and the mainland. Some of the rock used for this and for the artificial breakwaters was quarried from Morro Rock itself. Other rock was imported by barge from Catalina Island. The bay extends inland and parallels the shore for a distance of about 6.4 km (4 miles) south of its entrance at Morro Rock. Morro Bay is recognized for protection by the California Bays and Estuaries Policy.