Want to understand Morro Bay like a local? Here are some Morro Bay specific terms that may come in handy on your next visit. Pick up the local lingo with the cheat-sheet below. You certainly don’t have to be familiar with all these terms to enjoy Morro Bay, but when you’re looking for a local experience it’s a great place to start.
Secret Season -
As summer vacation ends and visitors head back to work and school, it's the best time to visit Morro Bay. September – November is our Secret Season. We get an extended summer with perfect (warm and sunny) weather, amazing sunrises and sunsets, and more elbow room for outdoor activities.
Indian Summer -
Heat wave that hits Morro Bay in the fall (normally September thru November) causing sunny, clear, and higher than usual temperatures.
Sip & Savor -
An additional incentive to book your visit now! When you stay in any Morro Bay hotel for 2 nights during September or October receive a complimentary bottle of wine.
Abalone Stage -
One of the two stages at the three-day Harbor Festival. The Abalone Stage features entertainment geared towards children, so bring the whole family for a weekend of fun October 4 – 6th.
California Surfing Day -
September 20th is California Surfing Day. This day celebrates CA’s official sport and the surfing lifestyle by honoring the history, surfing culture, and future of surfing. Morro Bay is the perfect spot to observe the holiday.
Morro comes from the Spanish word meaning crown. It refers to Morro Rock, which is named for its rounded shape.
The Rock -
Morro Bay’s most noteworthy landmark, Morro Rock is a volcanic plug that stands 576 feet tall. Sometimes called the “Gibraltar of the Pacific,” Morro Rock, sitting at the entrance to Morro Bay’s Harbor, has been used for hundreds of years as a navigational tool. You cannot hike up Morro Rock, but there is great animal watching around its base.
Three Stacks -
These power plant smokestacks are no longer in use but are a kind of local landmark. And give meaning to Morro Bay’s nickname “three stacks and a rock.”
“Mountain of Gold,” or Montana De Oro Sate Park is named for the wildflowers that bloom every spring. Just 8 miles from Morro Bay you’ll find rugged cliffs, expansive sand dunes, a 1,347 foot peak, and secluded beaches.
7 Sisters -
This refers to the chain of volcanic plugs stretching from San Luis Obispo to Morro Rock. Some sources count nine, but they are most often referred to as the 7 Sisters. Three of the peaks are in Morro Bay: Morro Rock, Black Hill, and Cerro Cabrillo in Morro Bay State Park.
Black Hill -
Black Hill is a very accessible viewpoint from which you can see the entire Morro Bay Estuary, as well as much of the watershed. Take the road through the Morro Bay Golf Course for a short walk to the top – you won’t be disappointed.
The Sandspit is a sand dunes barrier that protects the bay from the ocean. Although it starts in Montana De Oro State Park, the Sandspit is most easily accessible by the water in Morro Bay. This beach is very secluded and a portion makes up the Morro Dunes Natural Preserve. Please respect the fencing and stay out of roped off areas as they are protected bird nesting areas.
Estero Bay -
The formal name of the bay that stretches from Montana De Oro state park to just north of Cayucos. Morro Bay is the center of Estero Bay.
Back Bay -
This is what locals call the southernmost part of the estuary. It is furthest from the entrance to the bay, just past the Morro Bay State Park Marina, and a great place to kayak or walk the easily accessible Marina Boardwalk where you can observe much of the estuary.
An estuary is where freshwater meets saltwater. The 2,300-acre Morro Bay National Estuary is created when Chorro and Los Osos Creeks empty into Morro Bay. Many animals rely on this habitat to feed, breed, and rest during a migration.
"These environments create more living matter each year than comparable sized areas of forest, grassland, or agricultural land." - Morro Bay National Estuary Program
Morro Bay was built on the commercial fishing industry and still leads the way in sustainable fishing practices. You can find local, fresh seafood and produce at the Saturday Main Street Farmers Market, the Thursday Afternoon Farmers Market at Spencer’s, and at Morro Bay grocery stores.
Grassy Bar & Pacific Gold -
Two varietals of oysters that are grown in the cold, nutrient-rich waters of Morro Bay. You can find Grassy Bar Oysters and Pacific Gold Oysters at local restaurants and fresh seafood markets around town.
Shooters are one of the many ways to experience Morro Bay oysters. Raw oysters are served in a shot glass with spicy tomato juice and optional vodka.
Morro Bay Avocado -
A type of premium hass avocado that is unique to the area. Morro Bay Avocados stay on the trees for up to 18 months due the cool mornings slowing down their growth. Because of the extended time they take to develop, they are known for a rich flavor profile and an extremely smooth texture
Named after the shape of the pier, Morro Bay has two T-Piers. The South T-Pier is next to the Great American Fish Company and the North T-Pier is just outside of Tognazzini’s Dockside Too. These piers are great for photos, fishing, and observing the otters.
This accessible waterfront path connects the waterfront business district to Morro Rock and Morro Beach.
Target Rock -
On the bay side of the Morro Rock parking lot you will find a boulder hanging into the bay. This is Target Rock. This site is a popular spot for otters to hang out, as well as, a diving location.
North Point Beach -
This is the perfect place to take in the sunset. Drive north on Highway 1 and turn left onto Yerba Buena Street. You’ll find the beach access stairway at the end of Toro Lane. Come at low tide to explore the tide pools.
There are a variety of surf breaks in and around Morro Bay. Check out the top five locations here.
A disturbance is any act resulting in behavioral changes in otters. For example, anything that alerts them when they would normally be sleeping or relaxed. You can find more information about how to avoid disturbances at seaottersavvy.org.