Trip Inspiration

California

Marine Life and Active Exploration

Witness the beauty, excitement and adventure of northern California on this 9-day itinerary! From kayaking in Bodega Bay to an aquarium visit to an eco-safari searching for otters and dolphins in Monterey Bay, this trip connects travelers with the vital marine wildlife that call California home. On land, guests hike in stunning national parks, featuring waterfalls, redwoods and iconic geological features like Yosemite's El Capitan.

Trip Highlights

Locations

  • 2 nights at the charming Bodega Bay Lodge
  • 2 nights at Yosemite National Park’s Rush Creek Lodge
  • 4 nights at the luxurious Carmel Valley Ranch

Activities

  • Hiking in the Sonoma County redwood forests and scenic Big Sur State Park
  • An eco-raft ocean safari and kayaking in Bodega Bay
  • Private tours of Yosemite National Park and the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • A private bee-keeping experience and more

Day 1

Arrive Sonoma Coast

After touching down in San Francisco, pick up your rental car and cross the Golden Gate Bridge en route to the Sonoma Coast. Arrive at Bodega Bay Lodge, a charming resort nestled atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and drop your bags off before meeting your local conservationist guide for a private orientation hike through Sonoma County’s stunning wilderness. Follow an enchanting trail as you learn about the hulking redwood trees that anchor this unique ecosystem before emerging from the woods and feeling the salty spray of the ocean at a scenic cliffside overlook. Return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.

Bodega Bay Lodge

Day 2

Sonoma Coast

This morning, embark on a private guided kayak tour of Sonoma Coast State Park. Admire the natural beauty of the dramatic California coastline as you learn about the area’s history, flora and fauna from your expert naturalist guide. Enjoy the chance to catch a glimpse of river otters, whales and dolphins. After kayaking, return to your hotel for lunch and the afternoon at leisure.

Bodega Bay Lodge

Day 3

Sonoma Coast to Yosemite National Park

Today, continue onwards as you make your way to Yosemite National Park. Enjoy a scenic drive as you travel through California’s Central Valley, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. Enter the park and check into your room at the well-appointed Rush Creek Lodge.

Rush Creek Lodge

Day 4

Yosemite National Park

Today will be devoted to exploring Yosemite National Park with a local conservationist and member of the Yosemite Conservancy, as well as your very own private driver. Yosemite is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias and much more. Among the day’s many highlights, you will have the opportunity to walk along the valley floor and alongside the banks of the Merced River.

As your guide explains the region’s geography, wildlife and ecology, you’ll gaze at majestic cliffs, giant sequoia trees and tumbling waterfalls. For lunch, enjoy a picnic in nature and gather the fuel you need to continue on your journey. Enjoy searching for wildlife in the park’s boulder fields and watching mountain climbers attempt to summit El Capitan! At the end of your tour, you will bid farewell to your guide and enjoy the rest of your evening at leisure back at the lodge.

Rush Creek Lodge

Day 5

Yosemite National Park to the Monterey Peninsula

Depart Yosemite today, and proceed to the scenic Carmel Valley. Along the way, you may opt to stop by America’s technology hub, the Silicon Valley for self-guided exploration. Stroll across Facebook’s high-tech campus or walk through the beautiful sculpture garden at Stanford University before hitting the road again. Arrive at your resort and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Carmel Valley Ranch

Day 6

The Monterey Peninsula

Today you will experience something truly unique in the Carmel Valley on a VIP tour of the ranch’s very own apiary. You will wear protective beekeeping gear and get up close and personal with the resident hive’s 60,000 Italian honeybees. Once inside the hives, you will observe the sophisticated social structure that governs bee civilization. From the guards at the hive entrance, to the nurses tending to the young, to the notoriously elusive queen, you will learn about each bee’s unique role in this complex community and gain a newfound appreciation for these exceptional insects and their importance to the natural environment. Upon completing the tour, you will be able to sample honey directly from the hive, and you will receive complimentary lavender beeswax balm to take home.

Carmel Valley Ranch

Day 7

Monterey Bay Peninsula

Head to Monterey this morning to visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium with a private guide who will show you the highlights of this awe-inspiring attraction on a 60-minute private tour that begins 30 minutes before doors open to the public. Built in 1984, the aquarium is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on the Pacific Ocean shoreline in Monterey. Your window onto the ocean, you will guide yourself around this world-class attraction that hosts close to 2 million visitors a year. Visit stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, and numerous other native marine species, which can be viewed above and below the waterline.

Once you are finished at the aquarium, enjoy time to grab lunch in town before proceeding to Moss Landing. Meet your captain and guide– a trained field biologist as well as an accomplished wildlife artist– then board her custom-designed watercraft that was originally designed for military patrol use. Embark on a thrilling eco-raft ocean safari, taking advantage of your boat’s hydrodynamic design, maneuverability and small size to get up close and personal with magnificent whales, including humpbacks, orcas, and blue whales. Dolphins are known to make frequent appearances as well! Not only will you explore the magnificent coastline of Monterey Bay; you will also have the chance to see Point Lobos or Elkhorn Slough, one of California’s spectacular wetlands full of otters, seals and sea lions. Once your tour concludes, return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.

Carmel Valley Ranch

Day 8

Monterey Bay Peninsula

Rise early this morning and head south to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, traveling along California’s famed Highway 1.

Meet your private guide for a scenic hiking tour that will reveal the spectacular beauty of this park, from land to sea. Your guide will select a trail tailored to your level of fitness that will enable you to traverse a variety of natural scenery, such as waterfalls, creeks and canyons that are characteristic of the area.

Sightseeing opportunities may include old-growth redwoods, mountain streams, ocean coves and coastal trails, to name a few. A deli-style picnic lunch will be included that you can enjoy at leisure during your trek.

Carmel Valley Ranch

Day 9

Depart California

After breakfast, say goodbye to California and begin the drive home, or make your way to Monterey, San Francisco or San Jose airports.

Learn More about this Trip

Contact Us

More Inspiration

View Trip Ideas