Best Beaches along
California's North Coast

From the Marin Headlands to the Oregon Border



    Mendocino County Beaches


MacKerricher Beach

  • Main Beach
  • Glass Beach
  • Pudding Creek Beach
  • Virgin Creek Beach
  • Ten Mile Creek Beach

Russian Gulch Beach

Mendocino Headlands

  • Mendocino Headlands
  • Big River Beach
  • Point Cabrillo Light Station
  • Jug Handle Natural Reserve

Van Damme Beach

Manchester Beach

  • Manchester Beach
  • Point Arena
  • Stornetta Public Land

Schooner Gulch Beach

  • Bowling Ball Beach
  • Schooner Gulch Beach

Humboldt County Beaches

Gold Bluffs Beach

  • Gold Bluffs Beach
  • Carruthers Cove Beach
  • High Bluff Beach

Agate Beach

  • Agate Beach
  • Palmer's Point Beach
  • Big Lagoon Beach

Trinidad State Beach

  • Trinidad State Beach
  • College Cove Beach
  • Old Home/Indian Beach
  • Luffenholtz Beach
  • Moonstone Beach

Sonoma County Beaches


Sea Ranch Beaches

  • Gualala Point Beach
  • Walk on Beach
  • Shell Beach
  • Stengel Beach
  • Pebble Beach
  • Black Point Beach

Salt Point Beaches

  • Horseshoe Cove Beach
  • Fisk Mill Cove Beach
  • Stump Beach
  • Gerstle Cove Beach
  • Ocean Cove Beach
  • Stillwater Cove Beach

Fort Ross Beaches

  • North Cove Beach
  • Clam Beach
  • Sandy Cove Beach

Sonoma Coast
State Park Beaches

  • Goat Rock Beach
  • Arched Rock Beach
  • Shell Beach
  • Wright's Beach Beach
  • Portuguese Beach
  • Salmon Creek Beach
  • Doran Beach


Marin County Beaches

Dillon Beach

  • Dillon Beach
  • Lawson's Landing

Stinson Beach

  • Stinson Beach
  • Upton Beach
  • Seadrift Beach

Point Reyes Beaches

  • McClures Beach
  • Kehoe Beach
  • Point Reyes Beach
  • Drakes Beach
  • Limantour Beach
  • Sculptured Beach
  • Kelham Beach
  • Wildcat Beach
  • Palomarin Beach

Muir Beach

  • Muir Beach
  • Red Rock Beach
  • Tennessee Cove Beach
  • Rodeo Beach
  • Kirby Cove Beach
  • Pirates Cove


The Best North Coast Beaches for . . .

  Family Fun   Camping   Fishing   Diving   Wildlife   Scenery

Great Play in the Sand and Surf
Family Beaches


All California beaches have dangerous rip-currents and other hazards. Beaches north of the Golden Gate are especially hazardous. Check with rangers or lifeguards before entering the water. Children playing near or in the surf should be supervised at all times.

  • Stinson Beach

    - convenient parking, picnic area, restrooms and outdoor showers, plenty of sand, equipment rentals.
  • Drakes Beach

    - protected beach, convenient parking and amenities
  • Dillon Beach

    - private beach, store, cafe, surf shop close by
  • Doran Beach

    - Located in Doran Regional Park at Bodega Bay. South facing, usually with milder surf than nearby beaches.

Scenic Beaches


  • Point Reyes

    - Spectacular coast, meadows, forests, beaches, and headlands.
  • Sonoma Coast Beaches

    - sandy beaches, rocky coves, sea stacks, tunnels, jagged points
  • Marin Headlands

    - miles of beautiful coast with bays and points, dramatic views of the Golden Gate and San Francisco.
  • Salt Point Beaches

    - Sentinel Rock Viewpoint, coves and rugged coast, Kruse Rhododendron Reserve.
  • Russian Gulch

    - Devil's Punch Bowl, views from the trails along the points looking back toward the beach, dramatic cliffs, caves.
  • Mendocino Headlands

    - Spectacular views from the headlands of rugged coast, islands, sea tunnels, sea stacks.
  • MacKerricher's Laguna Point

    - wonderful panoramas of ocean and coast, tide pools, seal watching station
  • Trinidad State Beach

    - pretty setting with numerous sea stacks and islands with Sitka spruce
  • Agate Beach

    - sweeping curve of sand along the rugged north coast


Best Wildlife Viewing Beaches


  • Point Reyes

    - Whale watching, elephant seals, tule elk, nearly 500 species of birds.
  • Mendocino Headlands

    - a favorite whale watching spot, harbor seals and sea lions
  • MacKerricher Beaches

    - Birding at Lake Cleone and Ten Mile Dunes Natural Preserve, whale watching at Laguna Point, tide pools
  • Manchester Beach

    - River otters at Alder Creek, lots of shorebirds, sea lions along Stornetta coast
  • Muir Beach

    - Redwood Creek, monarch butterflies
  • Marin Headlands

    -deer, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, river otters, many varieties of birds, including brown pelicans, egrets, and great blue herons.
  • Gold Bluffs Beach

    - chance of spotting small herds of wild Roosevelt elk grazing nearby






Camping Beaches

North to South


  • Gold Bluffs Beach

    - tent camping on the sand dunes next to a wild and desolate beach
  • Agate Beach

    - Patrick's Point State Park offers 3 great campgrounds amidst beautiful scenery
  • MacKerricher State Park

    - More than 100 sites for tents and RV, walk to Laguna Point, next to Lake Cleone, special tent-only area.
  • Russian Gulch State Park

    - Thirty campsites along the creek, tent-only group site, back-country horse camp.
  • Van Damme State Park

    - camping along the creek and above in the meadow, showers, summer programs at amphitheater
  • Manchester Beach

    - Forty campsites, groups site, 8 environmental sites with 1-mile walk to reach.
  • Gualala Point Regional Park

    - small campground along the Gualala River, 1 mile from beach, showers, walk-in tent sites.
  • Salt Point State Park

    - Two campgrounds, over 100 sites, overflow camping, Gerstle Cove Campground close to beach
  • Fort Ross State Park

    - Twenty primitive campsites at Reef Campground, currently closed in winter, no reservations
  • Sonoma Coast State Park

    - Two campgrounds, Wright's Beach sites close to ocean, Bodega Dunes next to Bodega Harbor and short walk to Salmon Creek Beach. Dunes has showers
  • Point Reyes

    - Back-country, hike-in camps only. Coast Camp and Wildcat Camp are near the ocean. Boat-in camping site on Tomales Bay.
  • Marin Headlands

    - Four small campgrounds for tents, most require at least 1-mile hike, no drinking water.

Best Fishing Beaches


  • Manchester Beach

    - Fish for steelhead and salmon in local streams.
  • Sea Ranch

    - Cabezon, rock fish, eels and halibut caught off rocks at public access beaches.
  • Salt Point State Park

    - Catch lingcod, rockfish, cabezon, and greenlings off the rocks. Use great caution because of sleeper wavers.
  • Sonoma Coast State Park

    - Rockfish, salmon, perch, smelt, and steelhead caught by anglers who are always mindful of the waves.
  • Lawson's Landing

    - a popular fishing spot. Launch a boat and fish Tomales Bay or try your luck from the pier.
  • Stinson Beach

    - surf cast for perch, sole, flounder, and halibut.
  • Muir Beach

    - surf fishing or off the rocks, most catches are perch.

Popular Diving Beaches



Free diving for red abalone is especially popular along the Sonoma coast.



Ocean Safety

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

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