The Monterey Peninsula may be beautiful, but at some point you'll need to head out of town. Depending on your destination, there are a variety of ways to utilize the airports and shuttle services on and surrounding the Monterey Peninsula. Below, find a few helpful tips to make your trip just right, whether you’re looking for efficiency, luxury, or budget travel.
Monterey Regional Airport (MRY)
Right off of Highway 68, Monterey Regional Airport is the quickest way to catch a flight. Alaska, American, Allegiant, and United Airlines will take you to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Diego from the Peninsula. If you’re looking to travel to one of those locations or don’t mind making a connection, you’ll avoid the crowds and lines of a larger airport. Flying in and out of Monterey generally costs a bit more up front, but because it’s so centrally located it won’t cost you an arm and a leg just got get to and from the airport. At only 15-20 minutes from most places on the peninsula (even Carmel Valley), it’s only an Uber ride or a phone call to a friend away. Funny quirk: at the baggage claim carousel, the Monterey Airport has a video running on a loop explaining the wait for your luggage. It’s because the walk from the terminal is so short that it doesn’t give workers time to unload suitcases from the plane before you get there.
(Photo courtesy of jaymantri.com)
San Jose International (SJC)
San Jose is the closest international airport to the peninsula. At about an hour and half drive, it’s often worth a cheaper or more direct flight. Fourteen airlines travel to almost 40 destinations from here, making it a good way to get to many places in the US. International flights go to Vancouver, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, and Guadalajara. Parking costs range from $15-$22 per day, so depending on the length of your trip it can be worth finding a ride (or learn more about the Monterey Airbus below). Plenty of restaurants and snack kiosks mean you won’t go hungry if you plan a little extra cushion into your timeline to get here.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Roughly two hours from the Monterey Peninsula, SFO is the largest but farthest airport within driving distance. With 48 airlines, it will take you to 52 international destinations and 79 U.S. cities. You'll find any airline experience you're looking for flying from SFO, from WOW Air's surprisingly low fares for destinations in Europe to Emirates' luxurious first-class suites. Parking ranges from $25-$45 per day, including a valet option (advertised as coming with a complimentary copy of the Wall Street Journal). If you’d like to kick back a little more, “Airport Butler” is SFO’s concierge service, offering assistance with anything from transportation arrangements to personal shopping while you wait for a flight. Feeling sad to leave home? The airport partnered with the SPCA in 2013 to introduce the Wag Brigade, a group of therapy dogs that wanders the terminals to make passengers’ experience more enjoyable.
(Photo courtesy of goodstock.photos)
Leaving a car at the airport, paying for long-term parking, and worrying about traffic can all put a damper on a vacation. To get to SJC or SFO more smoothly, try Monterey Airbus. It’s a shuttle service that will take you from the peninsula to the airport reliably starting at 3:30 am. Basic shuttle rates start at $35 and go up depending on the airport and whether you’d like to get on at one of the designated pick-up locations or have the shuttle pick you up. Airbus drivers are always friendly and often have bottled water on hand - welcome touches to ease pre-travel jitters or post-flight weariness. The company also offers private chauffeur services to and from the airports in limousines, black cars, or SUVs.