Monterey Bay is a beautiful and marine-rich area that straddles the border between the rugged Central Coast and the Bay Area regions of California. Once the capital of Spanish California, the area was immortalized by the works of novelist John Steinbeck. Monterey Bay is home to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, currently the largest marine sanctuary in the United States. It hosts spectacular kelp forests and wildly diverse marine life, and is a popular place for diving, kayaking and whale watching. Highlight towns in the area include; Monterey, Carmel, and Santa Cruz.