When it comes to Northern California, our beaches are a smorgasbord of coastal heaven. Whether you’re adventuring through the big trees of Humboldt County or strolling through the shops in Carmel you’re always just minutes away from the beach around here.
Go ahead and pick your poison; do you enjoy camping, hiking, surfing or sailing? We’ve got you covered. And, just in case you’re the type of person who just wants to read a book to the symphony of crashing waves all day, we’re more than ready for you, too.
Before you slather on the sunscreen and kick off your flip flops, make sure and take a quick peek at a few gorgeous beaches you have to check out this summer – listed in no particular order.
1. Greenwood State Beach, Mendocino County
In the tiny town of Elk, population 250, sits a glorious strip of sat and pepper coastline. So, when are you coming for a visit?
2. Limantour Beach, Point Reyes
Bring your towel and a good book. You'll be here for awhile. This length of lovely tan sand is so long. The setting is totally pristine. The backdrop of wooded hillsides is alluring. You are right in a national park property with little intruding outside presence.
3. Heart's Desire Beach, Tomales Bay State Park
Since we're already in the Point Reyes area, lets take a walk over to this cutie. If the weather is windy or chilly, and you want a warmer and more protected setting, Heart’s Desire is a good place to consider.
4. Bodega Head, Sonoma County
Bodega Head is a small promontory on the Pacific coast of northern California in the United States. It's also home to lots of awesome sand dunes.
5. Goat Rock Beach, Sonoma County
At the northern end of Goat Rock Beach is the mouth of the Russian River, and the southern end of this crescent shaped expanse is the massive Goat Rock, an iconic outcrop of the Sonoma Coast, which is barely attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. Lots of animal life can be found here, from sea otters to sea lions. Plus, any beach named after a goat just has to be awesome.
6. Sandy Cove Beach, Jenner
Sandy Cove Beach is the main beach at Fort Ross State Historical Park. This is a nice sandy beach with clear water for diving but is not safe for swimming - it's way too cold. But its beauty is so worth the visit.
7. Manchester State Park, Manchester
All roads - and an access trail - lead to the beautiful Pacific Ocean here, for hours of beach walking, tide pooling and abalone diving along the breathtaking Mendocino Coast. Bring your camera. We hear there are two lighthouses, too!
8. Stinson Beach, Marin County
In 1906, refugees from the San Francisco earthquake came to the area and built some of the area's first businesses. Stinson Beach became the official town name in 1916, in honor of the largest landowners, Rose and Nathan Stinson. If you live in the Bay Area this is one you might just need to check out.
9. Luffenholtz Beach, Trinidad
Tide pools, driftwood, and the most gorgeous Pacific Ocean vantage point. This one needs to be on your beach-list this summer.
10. Clam Beach County Park, McKinnleyville
Very few parks in California allow camping right on the beach, but Clam Beach County Park is one of them. A wide and long stretch of flat shoreline, Clam Beach is part of a continuous ocean frontage that connects with Mad River Beach County Park to the south and Little River State Beach to the north. It is just minutes away from the town of McKinleyville, where all of your picnic, camping and beach supplies are available.
11. Samoa Dunes Recreation, Samoa
The park features a boat launch (into Humboldt Bay) and camping facilities. The area is great for clamming, fishing and beachcombing. The park makes a convenient RV camping spot, especially for OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) enthusiasts. On the ocean side of the Samoa Peninsula, there are literally miles of beaches to explore. These beaches are popular with surfers, kite flyers and those seeking solitude.
12. Centerville Beach Park, Ferndale
The park provides access to nine miles of ocean beach. Dairy farms back the wild beach to the north and steep cliffs are to the south. A large cross overlooks Centerville Beach. The cross memorializes travelers who died when a steamer sank offshore in 1860. But, it's this shot of the billions of stars exploding in the night sky that make us want to pitch a tent and stay for a long, long time.
13. Cowell Ranch Beach, Half Moon Bay
Cowell Ranch Beach is part of Half Moon Bay State Beach. Cowell Ranch Beach is located 3.4 miles south of Half Moon Bay, and 0.6 miles south of Miramontes Point Road.
14. Half Moon Bay State Beach, Half Moon Bay
Since we're already in the area, lets stop by the state beach, shall we? A stretch of beach that goes for four miles should be long enough to get your beach fun on. It can be a little windy and sometimes even cold, but if you're a surfer the waves are big and the campsites are plentiful.
With hundreds of coastal beaches in Northern California we know there’s a lot more out there still to visit. Share your favorite Northern California beach and why you love it in the comments below!