Yes, you have to run the gauntlet of the gift shop which has the usual souvenirs as well as some nice ones, but the visit to the caves is well worth it. There is an entrance fee, but it is modest compared to what it must cost to keep the place so nice. The caves are cold, noisy and stinky and wonderful fun. The vantage point is from above as you see the different shades of the great bodies of the sea lions resting, regaling, barking and howling, flinging themselves onto and sliding off the rocks, with the wave action constant and the howls echoing in that cavernous secret place. A fabulous experience that I have shared with local friends and visitors from Germany and Japan. Not one person has been disappointed!