MustRib, where are you headed in California? I am farther North in Santa Rosa in the heart of the Sonoma wine country, so if you need any recommendations I might be able to help.
Monterey used to be one of the most lively places around, then man succeeded in killing pretty much everything. Monterey Bay was fished heavily for it's incredible sardine masses, that dwindled in WWII. Whales were hunted heavily. It has been a success in rejuvenation with the otters, and all the other creatures including the sardines coming back. There is a great book called "The Life And Death Of Monterey Bay".
We sometimes see 100's of Risso dolphins mixed in with a few common dolphins. I have always wanted to get in the water with a local dolphin, just not with the Risso's. For one they are bigger than my boat, and two they are not very friendly. The common dolphins on the other hand will come right up to the boat as in inches away.
Last year they had up to 50 Humpbacks touring around Monterey Bay feeding. I missed it
This year I can't get down to Monterey for two more weeks at least, to go diving.
Just to continue to remind JKY to be mad for not calling him on the radio, we did get to hang out with a basking shark that are super rare. They used to be common, but since they were a shipping hazard, man killed thousands of them for no other reason then they got hit by ships sometimes.