Spring Wildlife Viewing in San Simeon

Spring in San Simeon means wildlife! March is one of the best months to view the flourishing wildlife around San Simeon, from elephant seals to sea otters to the infamous zebras. Warmer weather brings an abundance of food for animals to load up on before migration or while nursing their young. Here are some of the most frequently sought – and seen – animals in and around San Simeon.

San Simeon isn’t San Simeon without elephant seals. These mighty mammals can be found all along the Central Coast but one of the biggest rookeries, the Piedras Blancas Rookery, is right here in San Simeon. In fact, this rookery is one of the largest tourist draws to the area! Since January marks birthing season, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see a few pups in the rookery throughout the spring. It’s nothing less than adorable to see a pup scoot off to brave the waves alone! Spend some time around the rookery to catch the primordial sounds they make but be sure to give them plenty of room – they can be aggressive if threatened, so respectful space is always a good idea.

San Simeon Elephant Seals

Zebras are another major draw along Highway 1. You might ask yourself what the heck zebras are doing along the Central Coast of California and that’s a very good question. In short, they’re the descendants of former residents of William Randolph Hearst’s private zoo and they’ve managed to thrive here in the wild. And since there are no natural predators here for them, the zebras have happily reproduced through the generations to be about 130 or so in number. Today, we can find them munching away next to Hearst Ranch cattle, probably quite thankful to be far from lions and from zoo enclosures.

San Simeon Zebra

Another surprise guest star to be found along San Simeon is the Roosevelt Elk. Also believed to be William Randolph  Hearst imports, these mammals are not native to the area but have flourished along the Central Coast. They’re usually a bit farther back from Highway 1 but keep an eye out for them heading north towards Ragged Point. Their magnificent antlers are usually easy to spot from a distance and you can getter a better look with binoculars roadside.

Back on the beach, otters are probably the most fun sea mammal to watch from the shores. Whether they’re snoozing on their backs as they float, cuddling babies on their bellies, or zipping through the surf as they play, otters are saltwater imps that are always entertaining. Bring binoculars to get the best views of their heads as they bob in and out of waves in San Simeon cove.

San Simeon Sea Otter

While you’re watching the otters, scan the seas for whales and for the many sea birds along the Central Coast. Grey whales, humpbacks, and orcas all make their way through during their various migrations. And their airborne companions usually aren’t too far behind since their feeding habits overlap. Gulls and sandpipers stay closer to shore, while pelicans, cormorants, herons, and more can be found skimming the waves. Along hiking trails inland, be on the lookout for hawks, eagles, owls, and other birds of prey.

San Simeon is a nature-lovers haven, and spring is the perfect time to plan a getaway to enjoy the abundant wildlife. Whether you’re an expert birdwatcher, a sea life enthusiast, or a curious day tripper, San Simeon’s wildlife is healthy and thriving along the beautiful terrain.

Learn more on our Wildlife Viewing page.