Elephant Seal Boadwalk - San Simeon, California
Just up the road (or down depending on which direction you're traveling) from Hearst Castle is the Elephant Seal Boardwalk, overlooking the very busy Piedras Blancas Rookery, home to thousands of northern elephant seals. Our tour guide for the upstairs rooms of Hearst Castle said it was the best place to see them on the coast and since getting a chance to see some wildlife was on our list we had to stop.
We arrived after a very long afternoon wandering around the Castle and despite tired muscles and sore feet I could've spent hours watching the seals. They're wonderful to observe, snorting at each other, scattering sand across themselves, and soaking up the sun. Darrell and I watched a smaller one flop around and gnaw at several sleeping seals until it got one to pay attention to him. Or her. I wasn't sure. I don't know very much about elephant seals. But if you’re lucky you might run into volunteers from Friends of the Elephant Seal organization and they’ll be able to answer any questions you might have - just look for bright blue jackets.
We didn’t see any the evening we were there so I spent a lot of time on google learning random facts such as - a male elephant seal can weigh as much as 5000lbs and females as much as 1800lbs. They get the name from the males trunk-like nose and distinctive roaring they make during mating season. The seals spend the majority of their lives out in the open ocean, only coming ashore to mate and raise pups. I’m not an expert though and there are a lot of great resources out there if you want to learn more. I’d start with the Marine Mammal Center.
Elephant Seal Boardwalk turned out to be one of our favorite stops. Our seal, the one that went around biting other seals, still gets brought up in conversation.
A few helpful things to know before you go -