This weekend we camped at Morro Bay, visited Hearst Castle, and decided at the last minute to take a short detour to see the elephant seal cubs in San Simeon right off highway 1. From Hearst Castle it was only 4.5 miles down the road to a large parking lot and observation deck overlooking the beach.
The seals were certainly not hiding and we got a good view of scores of them as well as some information about their life cycle and pictures of newborn pups from a park ranger who was manning the deck. Almost all the seals we saw this visit were pups with a few mothers sprinkled through the herd, as the adults leave in March to spend months at sea hunting. Friends of the Elephant Seal lists what you can expect to see each month of the year and I think I’ll be coming back next January to try to see some actual births.
If you’re traveling down highway 1, I would definitely recommend a stop here and you can stay as little as 5 minutes and still witness some remarkable animals. We saw very little activity since everyone was sleeping, but I did see one particularly impressive yawn!