Monterey Bay Aquarium Passes

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Updated November 2021
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Shelf to Shore Program was created for families who otherwise cannot afford to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium partners with public libraries to provide free access. For free admission to the Aquarium, you must present the Aquarium Shelf to Shore pass given to you by library staff with your matching library card at the Main Entrance to the Aquarium.

Q: What is the Monterey Bay Aquarium?
A:The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the oceans. Unlike many other zoos and aquariums, the Monterey Bay Aquarium receives no public funding for its operations. It is one of the few aquariums that provide free admission for school field trips, serving more than 80,000 California school children each year, and affordable access programs through public libraries and social service organizations. Revenues from ticket sales and memberships support free school visits, ocean research and conservation programs for animals, including sea otters, sharks, and tuna. To learn more about the aquarium, visit their website.

Q: Who is eligible?
A: If you and your family qualify for Free School Lunch, WIC/SNAP, Meals on Wheels, Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, Healthy Kids, or other similar services, the Shelf to Shore program is intended for you. Proof of low-income eligibility is based on the honor system. Adult patrons need a valid Salinas Public Library card to participate and must be a resident of Salinas.

Q: How does it work?
A: Bring your adult library card to one of the three Salinas Public Libraries. Request an aquarium Shelf to Shore pass from the circulation desk. Each pass admits up to six family members for a visit. One pass per year per adult library card holder.

Q: What do I need to bring with me to visit?
Please bring following items with you to the aquarium when you visit:

  • The pass given to you by the library and your matching library card
  • Your Photo ID
  • All visitors age 12 and over must present proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your visit. 

Q: When can I use the Shelf to Shore pass?
A: The Shelf to Shore program runs from the day after Labor Day through the Friday before Memorial Day. Current passes are valid from September through May.

Shelf to Shore passes are not available during the year during peak season from June to August.

If you do not qualify for a pass, please consider an Aquarium membership. An aquarium membership gives you unlimited free admission for a year (one or two adults, and all your children and grandchildren up to age 21). Individual and student memberships are also available.

Please check the Aquarium's website ( for the most up-to-date information.