The jewel of Morro Bay does not exist. Like many, my first and only knowledge of Morro Bay came from the wonderful film Finding Dory. The aquarium and area looked fantastic in the movie so we decided to spend a night here on our Pacific Coast journey. Pulling into town we were somewhat disappointed. It looked like any other small coastal town. Little did we know then how severely disappointed we would be when walking along the coast looking for the aquarium.
We drove through the town to get to our hotel. One of the drawbacks to traveling in the off season is that tourist towns look depressing, especially coastal tourist towns, and Morro Bay is no exception. Our hearts sank driving the bland main street with its plain concrete strips of shops. Not ones to give up we started bouncing funny and cute Dory quotes off each other to raise our spirits. When we pulled up to our hotel we were quite a bit happier. It had some nice flowers in the front and out towards the sea we had a view of Morro rock, which was looming large, quite beautiful and impressive.
Leaving the hotel we avoided the main street and instead directed our steps straight towards the ocean. Walking down quite a steep hill we passed an RV park and a few hotels and hit a bay. To our right was Morro Hill and a giant power station and to our left a road lined with shops. To the left we went, passing shops that may have been open but without a customer to be seen. The road was much the same. A ghost town.
From the start we were not satisfied. The shops blocked any view of bay. To see anything one had to use special sightseeing openings that took you behind the buildings to a dock. It was quite annoying. After looking out upon the bay for a while and taking some pictures with the rock in the background we headed for the aquarium, quite surprised that such a nice place as seen in the film would be located in this small town. To our surprise(though we shouldn’t really have been surprised), the aquarium was nothing like in the movie. It was a tiny little shack on the water. We were bemused. We shook our heads and passed on by, using what we think was the only Mexican restaurant in town to lift our spirits. Unsurprisingly we were the only guests. Here was the best part of our stay. The food and drinks were good and our table overlooked the bay where we got to watch otters play in the water. It was a much needed pick me up. After dinner we went to our room and slept until leaving the next morning.
As always, Hollywood has exaggerated. This time outdoing themselves. There is nothing even remotely resembling the Morro Bay of Finding Dory fame. Especially not a jewel. The closest you will find is the excellent though bloody expensive Monterey Bay Aquarium about three hours North. Plus that city is fantastic. Do not waste a night in Morro Bay. Stopping by for a few hours is more than enough. Move along, nothing to see here.