Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.
Manchester State Park's broad sandy beach is unusual for the Mendocino coast which is known more for its rugged shorelines. Visitors can walk for miles along the beach, enjoying the rhythmic crash of the waves and the views of nearby Point Arena. The beach is often windy. The gentle curve of the coastline catches driftwood and other debris as it washes ashore.
Manchester State Park has two Day-Use Areas, one at the end of Kinney Road and the other on Stoneboro Road. Both are primitive with small parking lots, pit toilets, information kiosks, and trails to the beach. From March 1 to September 15 areas of beach may be fenced off for snowy plover nesting. Avoid the areas of flat sand above the high water mark where plovers often nest.
The beach trail leading from the Kinney Road parking lot can be confusing since it strikes out to the north rather than simply crossing the low ridge of dunes to the beach. Eventually the trail does arrive at the beach, circumventing a somewhat inconvenient drop-off of the beach side of the dunes.
Steelhead and salmon fishing are popular in Alder Creek and Bush Creek. Check California fishing regulations for season and restrictions.
Besides a standard campground, Manchester State Park has a group campground and an environmental campground, which must be accessed on foot.
Manchester is home to the Point Arena Cable Station. Underwater communication cables leave the shore here and connect with distant locations such as Hawaii, Canada, and Japan.
Also leaving the coast here and heading out to sea is the famous San Andreas Fault. The fault, which was the source of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, extends northward beneath the Garcia River east of Highway 1 and then offshore at the northern end of Manchester Beach near Alder Creek.
Only a mile south of Manchester State Park the jagged rocks of Point Area jut out into the Pacific. The Point Area Lighthouse stands near the edge of the cliffs, casting its warning lights seaward. The lighthouse is the tallest along the Pacific coast.
Guided tours of the lighthouse are available, including night-time tours. Self-guided tours of the lighthouse grounds are also available. Read details on the ACTIVITIES page. Visitors are allowed to climb to the top of the 115-foot tall lighthouse.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety