Ocean Parks:

California's Newest Tourist Attraction

By: Jennifer Savage, Ocean Conservancy

California hotels can now use new underwater parks to attract guests to their properties year around.   We all know that California's coast draws visitors from around the country and the world.  Now those areas are protected both above and below the water line, thanks to the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which established a series of underwater parks that extends protections from land to sea in many of the state's hotspots. These new parks can be found up and down the California coast line, from Crescent City to San Diego and everywhere in between. 

Economic reports consistently confirm that people come to California for an outdoor experience – and our beaches and state parks remain two of the most popular tourist destinations.  Now hotel operators can help visitors solve the age old question of “what should we do while we are here” by providing guests with information on their new regional underwater parks. If an experience at or near the hotel is unique, it definitely helps to generate bookings and often puts your property first in a consumer’s mind when they are choosing between two or three options. 

These new parks have something for every visitor and change season to season.  Guest of all ages and abilities can watch for whales from the shores, enjoy bird-watching or join expanding docent led tours.  The more adventuress guests can get up close and personal with the sea life by exploring the tide pools, participating in recreational diving, or kayaking along the coast. 

Central California’s Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, for example, is known as a place of spectacular beauty that inspires art and poetry – and thrills the hearts of both expert and amateur bird-watchers. Further north, the Point Reyes peninsula, hosts 45 percent of North American bird species and almost 18 percent of California's plant species, including 23 threatened and endangered species. Visitors can see, hear, smell and even feel the thunderous ocean breakers washing over long sandy beaches and crashing into rocky cliffs. Wildlife viewing includes humpback and gray whales, seals, sea lions and elephant seals. 

In Southern California, spectacular tide pooling can be found in Shaw’s Cove, located within Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve and featuring an extended area of large tide pools filled with anemones, urchins, sea stars and more – and a docent program provides education and tips regarding these fragile and diverse resources.

For more information on which underwater parks are near you hotel visit: http://caloceans.org/