Discover the best beaches in Northern California through this comprehensive guide. In a region where the majesty of the Pacific Ocean blends seamlessly with rugged cliffs, tranquil bays, and golden sands, Northern California offers a myriad of beachside experiences that are second to none.

This guide goes beyond a mere listing of beaches. It’s a handpicked journey stretching from the rugged coastline of Big Sur to the sandy shores of Carmel-by-the-Sea, from the dramatic landscapes of Mendocino to the secluded coves of Del Norte County.

Every beach featured here represents the best of Northern California’s rich tapestry of natural beauty and outdoor adventure.

Whether you’re a family looking to create cherished memories, a couple seeking those picture-perfect sunsets, or an adrenaline junkie craving the perfect wave, this guide aims to cater to all your beachside needs.

In the following sections, we will delve into 36 beautiful beaches in Northern California. Each beach is categorized by county, so you can easily find the beaches that are closest to you.

We will provide essential travel tips for each beach to ensure a seamless planning experience. So, if you’re planning your next vacation in Northern California or just daydreaming about the perfect beach escape, we hope this guide leads you to the sun-soaked destination of your dreams.

Now, grab your sunscreen, and let’s explore the best beaches that Northern California has to offer.

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A Map of 36 Best Beaches in Northern California

Best Northern California Beaches by County

Discover the gems of Northern California’s coastline organized by county. This categorization helps you pinpoint beaches close to your location or within your travel itinerary.

Best Beaches in Monterey County

Monterey County is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in California. From the iconic Carmel Beach to the hidden gems like Garrapata state beach, find your perfect coastal escape here.

1. Carmel Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Couples, and Dog Lovers
  • Unique Feature: Soft, white sands
  • Nearest coastal Town: Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round for different experiences, but gets crowded during weekends and holidays.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

One of the most iconic beaches in Monterey County, Carmel Beach is a haven of multifaceted beauty and activities.

Beyond its soft, white sands and stunning sunsets, this dog-friendly locale offers an ensemble of experiences, from surfing with panoramic vistas to cozy beach fires.

With something for families, couples, and outdoor enthusiasts, it’s more than just a beach—it’s a destination for cherished memories and romantic getaways.

Activities:

  • Sunbathing: Soft, white sands offer a luxurious sunbathing experience.
  • Surfing: With a stunning view of Point Lobos to the South and Pebble Beach to the North, the surf experience here is unparalleled. Note: A wetsuit is a must due to cool water temperatures.
  • Scenic Walk: A decomposed granite pathway offers panoramic views from Pebble Beach to Point Lobos.

Facilities:

  • Beach Fires: Permitted, but follow guidelines provided by the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
  • Parking: Limited at the foot of Ocean Avenue, free along Scenic Road
  • Restrooms: Available in the parking area at the foot of Ocean Avenue and on Scenic Road at Santa Lucia Avenue.

Safety:

  • Warning: No lifeguard service. Be aware of rip currents and rogue waves.

Read: 40 Top things to do in Carmel, California – The Ultimate Bucket List

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Garrapata State Beach

  • Perfect for Hikers, Nature Lovers, and Photographers.
  • Unique Feature:Dramatic cliffs and Calla Lily Valley
  • Nearest coastal Town: Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Best Time to Visit: April through October for wildflower blooms and whale watching, especially April and May for the Calla Lily bloom.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Hidden away off Highway 1, Garrapata State Beach is an undiscovered paradise ideal for those who appreciate the great outdoors.

Known for its rocky outcrops, dramatic cliffs, and verdant hiking trails, it provides a setting unlike any other on the California coastline.

Garrapata State Beach is home to the stunning Calla Lily Valley, a must-see for flower enthusiasts and photographers.

Garrapata State Beach offers an array of natural wonders for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts.

Activities:

  • Hiking: Trails lead you through coastal terrains and up cliffs for panoramic views.
  • Photography: The scenic landscape and diverse ecosystems make for excellent photography opportunities.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available at 19 numbered turnouts along Highway 1, specifically gates 18 and 19 for beach access.
  • Restrooms: None, plan accordingly.

Safety:

  • Warning: No lifeguard service. Trails and cliffs can be slippery, proceed with caution.

The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.

Robert Wyland

3. Pfeiffer Beach

  • Perfect for Nature Lovers, Photographers, and Couples
  • Unique Feature: Purple sand and Keyhole Arch
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Big Sur
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring to Early Fall to avoid the coastal fog
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations
Me, at Pfeiffer Beach, with nature’s own doorway framing the horizon

Pfeiffer Beach is a slice of paradise in the heart of Big Sur. Known for its distinct purple sands and majestic rock formations, including the famous Keyhole Arch, this secluded beach is an ethereal escape from the ordinary.

Visiting the purple sand beach at low tide is a true delight. You can get quite close to the iconic Keyhole Arch, and explore the numerous tide pools surrounding this natural wonder.

Beyond the surreal sand and geological wonders, the beach is an excellent spot for photography, particularly at sunset when the sun casts magical light through the arch.

Activities:

  • Photography: A haven for photographers aiming to capture Big Sur’s unique rock formations and vibrant sunsets.
  • Relaxing: The purple sands make a one-of-a-kind setting for a tranquil day at the beach.
  • Tidepool Exploration: Low tide reveals a rich marine ecosystem, ideal for tidepool adventures.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited and paid; arrive early for the best spots.
  • Restrooms: Available near the parking area.

Safety:

  • Warning: Strong currents and waves. Swimming is not advised.

Read: 52 Top Things to Do in Big Sur, California – A Guide

Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly!

Van Morrison

4. Asilomar State Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Nature Lovers, and Surf Enthusiasts
  • Unique Feature: Dunes and coastal walking trails
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Pacific Grove
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, but especially inviting from late Spring to early Fall.

Asilomar State Beach is renowned for its soft, sandy beaches and rolling dunes. Located in the charming town of Pacific Grove, this beach is a paradise for those looking to engage with nature in a serene setting.

Activities:

  • Surfing: Known for its steady waves, it’s a popular spot for surfers.
  • Walking and Jogging: The Asilomar Coastal Trail offers stunning ocean views.
  • Birdwatching: Spot coastal birds like the snowy plover, which nests in the dunes.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking available.
  • Restrooms: Clean facilities are accessible.
  • Picnic Areas: Several spots are perfect for a seaside picnic.

Safety:

Warning: The beach is exposed to rip currents. No lifeguards are present, so exercise caution when swimming.

Read: Monterey Bay Aquarium – A window to another world! 

The sea is a desert of waves,
A wilderness of water.

Langston Hughes

5. Moss Landing State Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Wildlife Enthusiasts, Kayakers
  • Unique Feature: Elkhorn Slough Reserve and frequent sea otter sightings
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Moss Landing
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, but particularly pleasant from March to October.
They know not how to swim; they know not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships , while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.

Moss Landing State Beach is a unique coastal gem situated near the Elkhorn Slough, one of California’s largest estuaries. The beach is especially popular for kayaking and observing sea otters, seals, and a variety of bird species.

Travel Tip: The Elkhorn Slough Wildlife Tour offers an unforgettable experience for any nature lover. This unique tour takes you up close and personal with one of California’s most spectacular wetlands and wildlife.

Elkhorn Slough is a 7-mile-long tidal slough and estuary on Monterey Bay in Monterey County, California. It is California’s second-largest estuary and the United States’ first estuarine sanctuary.

Sea Otters playing in the water at Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing, California

Elkhorn Slough is a 7-mile-long tidal slough and estuary on Monterey Bay in Monterey County, California.

It is California’s second-largest estuary and the United States’ first estuarine sanctuary. On tour, you’ll have the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in their natural habitat, including sea lions, otters, seals, pelicans, herons, egrets, and more.

Activities:

  • Kayaking: Elkhorn Slough offers one of the best kayaking experiences in California.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Watch sea otters, seals, and a plethora of bird species.
  • Fishing: The area is popular for surf fishing, especially for perch.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available but can fill up on weekends.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are on-site.
  • Picnic Areas: A few tables and grills are available for public use.

Safety:

Warning: The waters can be rough, and the area is known for strong tides. No lifeguards are present, so exercise extreme caution.

Read: A perfect family evening in Moss Landing State Beach, California! 

Ocean separates lands, not souls.

Munia Khan

Best Beaches in Santa Cruz County

Home to some of California’s most picturesque and diverse coastal areas, Santa Cruz County offers beaches that are ideal for everyone from thrill-seekers to nature lovers.

Whether you’re up for surfing, tidepooling, or just lounging in the sun, Santa Cruz beaches promise an unforgettable experience.

6. Natural Bridges State Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Nature Lovers, and Butterfly Enthusiasts
  • Unique Feature: Natural rock arch and Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Santa Cruz
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, but especially beautiful during the monarch butterfly migration from October to January.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Natural Bridges State Beach is a treasure trove of natural wonders, from its famous rock arch to the seasonal Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve nearby.

The beach is a favorite among locals and visitors for its scenic beauty and educational opportunities. Natural Bridges State Beach makes for a memorable day trip or weekend getaway.

Activities:

  • Tidepooling: The beach has some of the most vibrant tide pools, teeming with sea anemones, starfish, and crabs.
  • Monarch Butterfly Viewing: Visit the nearby preserve between October and January to witness thousands of monarch butterflies.
  • Birdwatching: This area is also great for spotting coastal birds like pelicans and cormorants.

Facilities:

  • Parking: A parking lot is available but quickly fills up on weekends.
  • Restrooms: Clean public restrooms are near the parking area.
  • Picnic Areas: Tables and grills are available for public use.

Safety:

Warning: Rip currents can occur. Always keep a close eye on children, as there are no lifeguards on duty.

Read: 51 Top Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California

To escape and sit quietly on the beach—that’s my idea of paradise

EMILIA WICKSTEAD

7. Santa Cruz Main Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Entertainment Seekers, and Thrill-Addicts
  • Unique Feature: Adjacent to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Santa Cruz
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, but summer weekends and holidays get exceptionally crowded.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Santa Cruz Main Beach stands as the epicenter of oceanfront fun and is unmissable if you’re looking for a high-energy beach experience.

Here, the sun-kissed sand meets the thrills of an iconic California landmark—the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This isn’t just a beach; it’s an all-in-one family-friendly extravaganza.

36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Adjacent to the historical and vibrant Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Main Beach promises more than just surf and sun. It’s an all-day adventure that combines beachside relaxation with amusement park excitement.

With rides, games, and endless food choices at your fingertips, this beach perfectly encapsulates the vibrant spirit of Santa Cruz.

36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Activities:

  • Boardwalk Adventures: The adjacent Boardwalk offers rides, games, and a variety of dining options.
  • Beach Volleyball: Numerous volleyball courts make it a hotspot for sports enthusiasts.
  • Surfing: Santa Cruz is a renowned surfing destination, and Main Beach is no exception. Rental shops are plentiful for beginners.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Multiple lots and street parking, but they fill up quickly during peak times.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are easily accessible near the Boardwalk.
  • Picnic Areas: Although bustling, you’ll find spots to lay down a blanket and have a picnic.

Safety:

Warning: The area can get crowded, and it’s important to keep an eye on children. Lifeguards are usually on duty during peak season.

Read: A Coffee cup and a story in Santa Cruz, California

Life is a wave, which in no two consecutive moments of its existence is composed of the same particles.

JOHN TYNDALL

8. Capitola Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Beachcombers, and Boutique Shoppers
  • Unique Feature: Wharf and colorful houses
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Capitola
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Summer for the warm weather, but it’s a charming visit year-round.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Capitola Beach is like a scene from a postcard, framed by colorful Venetian-style buildings and a lively esplanade. This beach seamlessly blends the laid-back California beach vibe with a dash of Mediterranean charm.

It’s an ideal spot for families and beachgoers who appreciate the calmer atmosphere and love to explore local shops.

With dining and shopping options just a stone’s throw away, Capitola Beach offers a delightful mix of sand, surf, and sophistication.

Activities:

  • Beachcombing: The beach is perfect for collecting seashells and other ocean treasures.
  • Paddleboarding: Calmer waters make it ideal for paddleboarding. Rentals are available nearby.
  • Shopping: A unique range of boutiques is available just a short walk from the beach.

Read: 37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California 

Facilities:

  • Parking: Paid parking lots and metered street parking are available but fill up quickly during peak season.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are located near the beach.

Safety:

Warning: Always keep an eye out for changing tides and currents. The area is generally safe but gets crowded on weekends. Lifeguards are present during the summer months.

Read: 18 Romantic Coastal Towns in California Within a Short Drive from the San Francisco Bay Area

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

9. Sunset State Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Campers, Nature Lovers
  • Unique Feature: Year-round campground and diverse recreational facilities
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Watsonville
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, but especially enjoyable in the late spring and summer months.

Sunset State Beach is more than just a beach; it’s a destination for a variety of outdoor activities, enriched by its tranquil setting and panoramic views of Monterey Bay.

The year-round campground offers an array of facilities that cater to different preferences, making it a versatile spot for everyone.

Activities:

  • Camping: Family campsites, group campsites, and hike or bike campsites are available for an immersive nature experience.
  • Fishing: Cast a line and enjoy a peaceful day of fishing.
  • Windsurfing/Surfing: Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, the waters are inviting for some surfing action.
  • Hiking: Take advantage of the hiking trails to soak in the natural beauty of the area.
  • Geocaching: An exciting way to explore the beach and its surroundings.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking space is provided.
  • Restrooms/Showers: Clean restrooms and outdoor showers are accessible.
  • Picnic Areas: With multiple picnic spots, you can enjoy your meals with a view.
  • Wheelchair Accessible: The area is friendly for visitors with mobility issues.

Safety:

Warning: The beach is generally safe, but always exercise caution as no lifeguards are on duty.

Read: 8 Spanish Missions Near the San Francisco Bay Area: Perfect for Day Trips

Take me to the ocean. Let me sail the open sea. To breathe the warm and salty air and dream of things to be.

Erica Billups

Best Beaches in San Mateo County

San Mateo County boasts an exquisite stretch of coastline that’s just a stone’s throw away from the bustling San Francisco Bay Area.

From tranquil bays to exhilarating surf spots, these beaches offer an array of experiences for every type of beachgoer.

10. Half Moon Bay State Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Nature Lovers, and Fishermen
  • Unique Feature: Four distinct beaches in one
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Half Moon Bay
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, though the annual Pumpkin Festival in October brings extra visitors.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Half Moon Bay State Beach is a multifaceted gem on the San Mateo County coast. The unique aspect of this location is that it’s actually a collection of four beaches: Francis Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and Roosevelt Beach.

Each one offers a slightly different experience, making it a complete package for anyone looking to explore the diverse landscapes of California’s coastline.

Here, you can enjoy everything from picnicking and tide pooling to surfing and fishing. With an extensive stretch of coastline that offers varied terrains and activities, Half Moon Bay State Beach is a haven for both relaxation and outdoor pursuits.

Activities:

  • Fishing: The beach is a known spot for surf fishing.
  • Tidepooling: Explore the small marine ecosystems during low tide.
  • Horseback Riding: Several outfitters in the area offer horseback riding on the beach.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking available, though it can fill up during events and weekends.
  • Restrooms: Clean facilities are available at different locations along the beach.

Safety:

Warning: Some areas have strong currents and chilly water. Always keep an eye out and be cautious. Lifeguards are on duty during peak seasons.

Read: 46 Top Things to Do in Half Moon Bay, California

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.

Isak Dinesen

11. Montara State Beach

  • Perfect for Hikers, Nature Lovers, and Solitude Seekers
  • Unique Feature: Cliffs and tide pools
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Montara
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Fall to avoid fog and enjoy clearer skies.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Montara State Beach is a secluded stretch of coastline, offering a tranquil escape from the everyday hustle. Nestled between high cliffs and the expansive Pacific, this beach is a paradise for those who appreciate natural beauty in a quieter setting.

Whether you want to explore the tide pools filled with marine life or hike along the adjacent Montara Mountain, this beach offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Activities:

  • Hiking: Nearby Montara Mountain provides excellent hiking opportunities with views of the ocean.
  • Tidepooling: The beach’s rocky areas offer fascinating tide pools teeming with marine life.
  • Photography: The scenic cliffs and ocean backdrop make this a photographer’s dream location.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited free parking is available along the highway and in small parking lots.
  • Restrooms: Basic facilities are available but minimal compared to more popular beaches.

Safety:

Warning: The ocean can be rough, and rip currents are common. There are no lifeguards, so caution is advised.

Read: 25 Best California State Parks Near San Francisco: A Guide 

The waves of the sea help me get back to me

Jill Davis

12. Ross’ Cove Beach

  • Perfect for Surfers, Nature Enthusiasts, and Those Seeking Seclusion
  • Unique Feature: Hidden gem with a secluded cove
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Half Moon Bay
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Summer for the best surf and clear skies.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Nestled on the north side of Pillar Point, between Half Moon Bay and Moss Beach, Ross Cove Beach is a hidden gem within the boundary of the San Mateo County-operated Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

While it may be smaller in size compared to neighboring beaches, its seclusion and unique charm make it a local treasure.

Beyond its tranquil environment ideal for escaping crowds, Ross Cove Beach also attracts surfers who prefer riding waves without the usual bustle.

But it’s not just surfers who will find solace here; above the beach lies Pillar Point Bluff Park, featuring trails that are perfect for jogging and dog-walking.

Intriguingly, just on the south side of Pillar Point is Maverick’s Beach, the legendary site of the annual Maverick’s Surf Competition.

Travel Tip: While in the area, don’t miss out on visiting the Seal Cove Cypress Tree Tunnel in Moss Beach. This enchanting tunnel of cypress trees is another highlight within the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. It offers a surreal, photogenic backdrop perfect for nature lovers and photographers alike. The intertwined branches above and lush greenery all around make for a magical walk, so keep your camera ready!

Activities:

  • Surfing: Known for its great surf, especially during the spring and summer.
  • Picnicking: A great location to enjoy a picnic with an ocean view.
  • Wildlife Watching: Seals are often spotted in the area.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Very limited parking is available along the highway.
  • Restrooms: No restrooms are available, so plan accordingly.

Safety:

Warning: The secluded nature of the beach means no lifeguard presence. Exercise caution while swimming or surfing.

Read: 6 Best State Parks in the Peninsula, San Francisco Bay Area 

The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

Jacques Cousteau

13. Mavericks Beach

  • Perfect for Surf Enthusiasts, Adventure Seekers, and Spectators
  • Unique Feature: Renowned big-wave surf spot and annual Maverick’s Surf Competition
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Half Moon Bay
  • Best Time to Visit: November through March for big wave season; otherwise, year-round for coastal views.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Mavericks Beach isn’t just another beach; it’s a mecca for extreme surfers from around the world. Situated just south of Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, it’s best known for its massive waves that can reach heights of up to 60 feet.

It’s not a swimming beach but rather a place to witness the raw power of the ocean or even watch world-class athletes take on some of the largest waves you’ll ever see.

Activities:

  • Surf Watching: Ideal for watching some of the best surfers tackle monstrous waves.
  • Photography: Capture stunning photographs of the powerful surf and scenic cliffs.
  • Coastal Walks: Trails along the cliff offer breathtaking views of the ocean.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited parking available near the trail leading to the viewing spots.
  • Restrooms: Facilities are sparse; plan accordingly.

Safety:

Warning: The waves at Maverick’s are extremely dangerous and suitable only for experienced surfers. Always maintain a safe distance from the water.

Read: 30 Romantic Places to Explore in the San Francisco Bay Area 

Your heart is like the ocean, mysterious and dark.

 Bob Dylan

Best Beaches in San Francisco County

Find your escape without leaving the city, from the iconic Ocean Beach to the picturesque Baker Beach, each offering a unique slice of coastal life.

14. Ocean Beach

  • Perfect for Surfers, Joggers, and Bonfire Enthusiasts
  • Unique Feature: Wide, expansive shoreline great for bonfires
  • Nearest Coastal Town: San Francisco
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, though it can get foggy and chilly.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Ocean Beach is one of San Francisco’s iconic beaches, offering a huge stretch of sand along the western edge of the city. Known for its strong surf, this beach is a haven for surfers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

It’s also one of the few places in the city where beach bonfires are permitted, making it a popular spot for evening gatherings.

36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations
Pic Courtesy: Daniel Furon

Activities:

  • Surfing: A top destination for local surfers, though the currents can be strong.
  • Jogging: The adjacent path is perfect for a seaside run.
  • Bonfires: Special fire rings are provided for bonfires.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking is available in lots and along the Great Highway.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: Rip currents are common; always be cautious if you decide to go in the water. Lifeguards are not regularly on duty.

Read: One Day in San Francisco Itinerary: For Every Traveler 

To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude!

Jeanne Moreau

15. Fort Funston Beach

  • Perfect for Dog Lovers, Hang Gliders, and Horseback Riders
  • Unique Feature: Popular spot for hang gliding
  • Nearest Coastal Town: San Francisco
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, especially pleasant during spring and fall.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Fort Funston Beach offers something truly unique—a haven for hang gliding enthusiasts. This spot also boasts trails suitable for horseback riding and is one of the most dog-friendly beaches in the area.

The bluffs offer a panoramic view of the ocean, making it a great spot for a peaceful retreat.

Activities:

  • Hang Gliding: The beach is known for excellent hang-gliding conditions.
  • Horseback Riding: Trails are available for horseback rides.
  • Dog Walking: One of the most dog-friendly beaches in San Francisco.

Facilities:

  • Parking: A large parking lot is available, though it can fill up on weekends.
  • Restrooms: Facilities are available near the parking lot.

Safety:

Warning: Cliff edges can be unstable, and the water can be rough. Exercise caution.

Read: Discover 80 Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in San Francisco

Sky above, sand below, peace within. If there’s heaven for me, I’m sure it has a beach attached to it.

Jimmy Buffett 

16. Baker Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Photographers, and Hikers
  • Unique Feature: Stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Nearest Coastal Town: San Francisco
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, though summers can be particularly pleasant.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations , Golden Gate Bridge, Baker Beach

Baker Beach offers perhaps the most iconic view of the Golden Gate Bridge you can find, making it an absolute must-visit for photographers and tourists alike.

Beyond the incredible views, it offers a sandy shore that’s great for picnics, sunbathing, and even some light hiking along the coastal trails.

Activities:

  • Photography: The Golden Gate Bridge provides a perfect backdrop.
  • Hiking: Nearby trails offer scenic vistas.
  • Picnicking: Several picnic areas are available.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited parking is available, and it’s advisable to come early.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: Swimming is not recommended due to strong currents. No lifeguard on duty.

Read: 20 Best Golden Gate Bridge Vista Points in San Francisco: A Guide

We walk up the beach under the stars. We feel stretched, expanded to take in their compass. They pour into us until we are filled with stars, up to the brim.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

17. Sutro Baths

  • Perfect for History Buffs, Photographers, and Explorers
  • Unique Feature: Historic ruins of a public saltwater swimming pool complex
  • Nearest Coastal Town: San Francisco
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, spring and fall offer the most pleasant weather.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations , sutro baths

Nestled on the coastal edge of San Francisco, the Sutro Baths are a fascinating blend of history and natural beauty.

Once a grand public bathing facility, the ruins now offer a mysterious and evocative landscape that begs to be explored.

Visitors can walk among the ruins while gazing out at the vast Pacific, capturing the sense of wonder and historical intrigue that makes this place so unique.

Sutro Baths is not just a beach; it’s a compelling blend of California’s rich history and natural splendor.

Activities:

  • Photography: Capture the stunning juxtaposition of ruins against the ocean backdrop.
  • Exploration: Wander through the labyrinthine ruins and interpretive displays.
  • Sunset Viewing: The site offers some of the best sunset views in San Francisco

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited free parking is available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are nearby at the Lands End Lookout visitor center.

Safety:

Warning: The area can be slippery and rugged, so sturdy footwear is advised. No lifeguard on duty.

Read: San Francisco at Night: The Best Things to Do With Family 

The ocean is a central image. It is the symbolism of a great journey.

Enya

18. Mile Rock Beach

  • Perfect for Solitude Seekers, Hikers, and Nature Lovers
  • Unique Feature: Secluded coves and labyrinth stone structure
  • Nearest Coastal Town: San Francisco
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Fall for milder temperatures.
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Tucked away within the sprawling Lands End area, Mile Rock Beach offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

This beach is a haven for those looking to connect with nature, featuring secluded coves, rocky landscapes, and even a giant heart at the Lands End lookout.

If you’re up for a mini-adventure, the trek down to the beach is a part of the experience, involving a hike through scenic trails.

Travel Tip: The giant heart at the Lands End Lookout is not to be missed. The famous Lands End Labyrinth has recently been replaced by the giant heart.

Activities:

  • Hiking: A network of trails leading to and around the beach.
  • The giant heart: Don’t miss the giant heart, a peaceful spot for meditation or photos.
  • Wildlife Watching: Frequent sightings of seals and seabirds.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited free parking at the Lands End parking lot.
  • Restrooms: No facilities available, nearest public restrooms are at the Lands End Lookout.

Safety:

Warning: The area has steep cliffs and loose footing; exercise caution. No lifeguard on duty.

Read: Top 8 scenic drives in the San Francisco Bay Area

Be alone with the sea for it is there you will find answers to questions you didn’t realize exist.

Khang Kijarro Nguyen

19. China Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Sunbathers, and Swimmers
  • Unique Feature: Protected cove with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Nearest Coastal Town: San Francisco
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring through Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations , China Beach

China Beach offers a more protected environment compared to other San Francisco beaches, making it an ideal choice for families and less experienced swimmers.

The stunning backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, coupled with its calm waters and sandy shores, make this beach a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

The protected cove is often less windy than its counterparts, providing a pleasant atmosphere for sunbathing and picnicking.

Activities:

  • Swimming: The protected cove offers safer swimming conditions.
  • Picnicking: Several picnic tables and BBQ facilities are available.
  • Sunbathing: The beach is often less windy, making it ideal for sunbathing.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited free parking is available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms and showers are available.

Safety:

Warning: Though the cove is more protected, always be cautious of changing tides and currents. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months.

Read: A Guide to Walking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco 

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace

KATE CHOPIN

Best Beaches in Marin County

Marin County is where rugged cliffs meet tranquil shores, offering an eclectic mix of beaches for adventurers, families, and solitude seekers.

Each beach tells its own tale, framed by the majestic Pacific and lush coastal landscapes. From iconic Stinson Beach to hidden gems like Rodeo Beach, Marin County is a coastal paradise waiting to be explored.

20. Stinson Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Surfers, and day-trippers
  • Unique Feature: Wide sandy expanse with stunning mountain backdrop
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Stinson Beach
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring to Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Stinson Beach is one of Marin County’s most popular beaches, offering a wide expanse of sand that makes it a paradise for sunbathers, surfers, and families.

The stunning backdrop of the mountains enhances its appeal, making it one of the most picturesque beaches in the region.

Activities:

  • Surfing: Known for its good surfing conditions.
  • Picnicking: Multiple picnic areas with BBQ facilities.
  • Beach Volleyball: Courts are available for public use.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking is available, though it fills up quickly on weekends.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms and showers are available.

Safety:

Warning: Rip currents can be strong; always follow lifeguard instructions. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer.

Read: 19 Best North Bay State Parks in the San Francisco Bay Area 

I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought.

HELEN KELLER

21. Rodeo Beach

  • Perfect for Birdwatchers, Surfers, and Hikers
  • Unique Feature: Dark sand and rugged cliffs
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Sausalito
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Rodeo Beach is noted for its dark sand and rugged cliffs. Ideal for those who love birdwatching, surfing, or hiking along the cliffs. The beach itself is a short drive from San Francisco, making it a popular day-trip destination.

Activities:

  • Birdwatching: Frequent sightings of local and migratory birds.
  • Surfing: Popular among local surfers.
  • Hiking: Nearby trails offer breathtaking views.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Free parking is available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are located near the beach.

Safety:

Warning: Steep cliffs and strong currents; exercise caution. No lifeguard on duty.

Read: 41 Top Places To See Street Art and Murals in San Francisco

The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides, and in its depths, it has its pearls too!

Vincent van Gogh

22. Drakes Beach

  • Perfect for Nature Enthusiasts, History Buffs, and Relaxation Seekers
  • Unique Feature: Named after Sir Francis Drake, offering a historical backdrop
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Inverness
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring to Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Nestled within the expansive Point Reyes National Seashore, Drakes Beach is a unique blend of natural serenity and historical allure.

Named after the English sea captain Sir Francis Drake, who is believed to have landed here in 1579 during his circumnavigation of the globe, the beach offers more than just stunning vistas; it offers a window into California’s past.

It’s a broad, sweeping shoreline that invites you to wander and explore, whether you’re interested in its historical background or its current natural beauty.

The beach is a tranquil respite for beachgoers looking for a serene experience, but it also holds the appeal of educational value with a visitor center and natural exhibits.

Activities:

  • Educational Exploration: The visitor center offers enlightening exhibits about the area’s history and ecology.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for seals and migratory birds.
  • Picnicking: Ample space and stunning views make it an ideal spot for a beach picnic.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Free parking is available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: Always be cautious of tides and currents. No lifeguard on duty.

Read: 50 Top Things To Do in Point Reyes, California 

Limitless and immortal, the waters are the beginning and end of all things on earth.

HEINRICH ZIMMER

23. Limantour Beach

  • Perfect for Wildlife Lovers, Kayakers, and Hikers
  • Unique Feature: Estuarine and ocean habitats converge
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Point Reyes Station
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Located in Point Reyes National Seashore, Limantour Beach is a fascinating place where estuarine and ocean habitats meet.

This results in a rich array of flora and fauna, making it a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts.

Activities:

  • Kayaking: Ideal conditions for kayaking.
  • Wildlife Watching: Rich in biodiversity.
  • Hiking: Multiple trails in the surrounding areas.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Free parking is available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: Tides can change rapidly; always be cautious. No lifeguard on duty.

24. Muir Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Nature Lovers, hikers and Photographers
  • Unique Feature: Close proximity to Muir Woods
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Muir Beach
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring through Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Muir Beach is a gem within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just a short drive from its famous namesake, Muir Woods.

This stunning beach offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty of the California coast while also having the option to explore the nearby redwood forest.

Activities:

  • Photography: The lush hillsides offer fantastic photo ops.
  • Hiking: Trails lead from the beach into the surrounding hills and forests.
  • Birdwatching: The area is rich in birdlife, making it perfect for birdwatching.
  • Picnicking: Several picnic tables are available.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited parking is available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: Strong currents and cold water can make swimming dangerous. Always be cautious and aware of ocean conditions. Lifeguards are not present at this beach.

Read: Best Trails in Muir Woods National Monument: A Guide 

You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

André Gide

Best Beaches in Sonoma County

Sonoma County offers a tranquil escape along its rugged coastline, where the vineyards meet the sea. With expansive stretches of sand, towering cliffs, and hidden coves, the beaches here are a haven for nature enthusiasts and solitude seekers alike.

25. Bodega Dunes Beach

  • Perfect for Campers, Hikers, and Wildlife Enthusiasts
  • Unique Feature: Extensive dunes and camping grounds
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Bodega Bay
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring through Early Fall

Bodega Dunes Beach offers a remarkable setting where expansive sand dunes serve as a backdrop to a serene shoreline.

The beach is part of Sonoma Coast State Park and is an excellent choice for campers, with its dedicated camping grounds.

Activities:

  • Camping: Designated camping areas are available.
  • Hiking: Trails lead through the extensive dunes.
  • Birdwatching: Look out for shorebirds and waterfowl.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking, especially near the campground.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms and shower facilities are available.

Safety:

Warning: Rip currents are common; exercise caution. Lifeguards are on duty during peak seasons.

Read:

In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.

RACHEL CARSON

26. Goat Rock Beach

  • Perfect for Photographers, Seal Watching, and Picnickers
  • Unique Feature: Seal colony at the mouth of the Russian River
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Jenner
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Goat Rock Beach is famous for its picturesque sea stacks and the seal colony found at the mouth of the Russian River. It’s an idyllic setting for photographers and nature lovers, offering a myriad of photo opportunities and chances to observe seals in their natural habitat.

This captivating scene often reminds me of the harbor seals I encountered while on a Kenai Fjords National Park cruise in Alaska, where they were reclining leisurely on floating ice.

Just as the Alaskan vistas inspired me to capture the beauty of the natural world, Goat Rock Beach evokes that same sense of wonder and urge to immortalize the moment through my lens.

Activities:

  • Seal Watching: A designated area for observing the local seal colony.
  • Photography: Stunning sea stacks offer perfect photo ops.
  • Picnicking: Designated picnic areas are available.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Free parking near the beach.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms available.

Safety:

Warning: Strong currents and cold water; swimming is not recommended. No lifeguard on duty.

Read:

To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me!

Isaac Newton

27. Jenner Beach

  • Perfect for Solitude Seekers, Kayakers, and Birdwatchers
  • Unique Feature: Confluence of the Russian River and Pacific Ocean
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Jenner
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring to Early Fall

Located where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean, Jenner Beach offers a quiet retreat for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.

The beach is less frequented than others in the area, making it an ideal spot for peaceful reflection and wildlife watching.

Activities:

  • Kayaking: Explore the Russian River’s mouth and nearby estuaries.
  • Birdwatching: Frequent sightings of local and migratory birds.
  • Beachcombing: Look for shells and driftwood.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited free parking is available.
  • Restrooms: No public restrooms available.

Safety:

Warning: Beware of strong currents and cold water; swimming is not recommended. No lifeguard on duty.

Read: San Francisco to Death Valley – A Super Scenic California Road Trip!

To me, the sea is like a person—like a child that I’ve known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea, I talk to it. I never feel alone when I’m out there.

Gertrude Ederle

Best Beaches in Mendocino County

Mendocino County is a haven for nature enthusiasts, offering a diverse blend of rugged coastlines, secluded coves, and ecological wonders.

Whether you’re searching for a romantic getaway or an educational nature expedition, Mendocino’s beaches provide the perfect backdrop.

28. Glass Beach

  • Perfect for: Treasure Hunters, Photographers, Families
  • Unique Feature: Sea glass-covered shore
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Fort Bragg
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring to Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Glass Beach is a fascinating natural wonder located in Fort Bragg, famous for its shoreline covered in colorful sea glass. What was once trash has been transformed into treasures by the tireless work of the ocean waves.

Activities:

  • Sea Glass Collection: Though collecting is discouraged, it’s a wonderful place to marvel at the colorful sea glass.
  • Photography: The sea glass offers vibrant photo opportunities.
  • Hiking: Nearby trails provide views of the coast.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available but can be crowded during peak times.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: The area can be slippery, so watch your footing. No lifeguards on duty.

Read: 48 Top Things to Do in Fort Bragg, California 

The ocean is a mighty harmonist.

William Wordsworth

29. Caspar State Beach

  • Perfect for Surfers, Families, and Dog Lovers
  • Unique Feature: Rock formations and tide pools
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Caspar
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer and Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Caspar State Beach is known for its distinctive rock formations and tide pools, making it an ideal spot for those interested in marine ecology and surfing.

Activities:

  • Surfing: Great waves for surfing.
  • Tidepool Exploration: Discover a myriad of marine life.
  • Picnicking: Tables are available.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: Always check tide times before exploring the tide pools. Lifeguards are not regularly on duty.

Read: Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens – A Photo Essay! 

The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place. All through the long history of Earth it has been an area of unrest where waves have broken heavily against the land, where the tides have pressed forward over the continent, receded, and then returned.

Rachel Carson

30. Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

  • Perfect for Hikers, Botanists, and Birdwatchers
  • Unique Feature: Rare pygmy forest
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Caspar
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring to Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve is not just a beach; it’s a natural classroom featuring a rare pygmy forest and an array of coastal flora and fauna.

Activities:

  • Hiking: Nature trails through diverse ecosystems.
  • Birdwatching: Rich avian biodiversity.
  • Botany: The pygmy forest is a unique sight.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: The trails can be muddy; wear appropriate footwear. No lifeguards on duty.

Read:

The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.

Christopher Paolini

31. MacKerricher State Park

  • Perfect for Families, Nature Lovers, and Photographers
  • Unique Feature: Variety of habitats, including wetlands, forests, and dunes
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Fort Bragg
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

MacKerricher State Park is a diverse natural playground that features an array of habitats from wetlands and forests to sandy dunes and rocky shoreline.

Activities:

  • Wildlife Watching: Great spot to see seals and sea lions.
  • Photography: Diverse landscapes offer ample photo ops.
  • Biking: Trails are available for bikers.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking available.
  • Restrooms: Public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: Watch for signs about seasonal wildlife protection zones. Lifeguards are not present.

Read: Little River Inn – A Romantic Hotel Near Mendocino

THE sea! the sea! the open sea!The blue, the fresh, the ever free!

Barry Cornwall (Bryan Waller Procter)

Best Beaches in Humboldt County

Explore the untamed coasts of Humboldt, home to vast stretches of sand, surf, and solitude, perfect for those who want to be one with nature.

32. Centerville Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Horseback Riders, Birdwatchers
  • Unique Feature: Long sandy stretch ideal for horseback riding
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Ferndale
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring through Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Centerville Beach offers a sweeping expanse of coastline ideal for horseback riding, picnics, and birdwatching.

Its location near the historic town of Ferndale adds to its charm, making it a great spot for those interested in mixing nature with culture.

Activities:

  • Horseback Riding: The beach allows for horseback riding along its long sandy stretch.
  • Birdwatching: The area is rich in birdlife, particularly during migratory seasons.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Ample parking is available.
  • Restrooms: Portable restrooms are provided.

Safety:

Warning: Pay attention to the tides and avoid swimming in rough conditions. Lifeguards are not present.

Read: Rendezvous with Redwood trees in the Redwood National Park, California – The tallest trees on earth!

To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?

Walt Whitman

33. Trinidad State Beach 

  • Perfect for Families, Hikers, Nature Lovers
  • Unique Feature: Rich tide pools and rock formations
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Trinidad
  • Best Time to Visit: May through September
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

This picturesque beach offers both sandy areas and rocky terrain, making it a geologically diverse destination.

With tide pools full of marine life and nearby trails leading to panoramic viewpoints, Trinidad State Beach is a must-visit.

Activities:

  • Tidepooling: Rich tide pools provide a chance to explore marine life.
  • Hiking: Several trails offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available but can fill up quickly during weekends.
  • Restrooms: Clean facilities are available.

Safety:

Warning: Steep cliffs and rip currents necessitate caution. Lifeguards are not present.

Read: 28 Top California Gold Rush Towns Near San Francisco 

Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think!

Robert Henri

34. Moonstone Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Surfers, Nature Lovers, and Dog Owners
  • Unique Feature: Versatile terrain with tide pools, sea caves, and the Little River
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Trinidad
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, although May through September offers the most pleasant weather
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Moonstone Beach, located just south of the quaint fishing town of Trinidad, is a haven for those who love the natural beauty of California’s coastline.

With its intricate rock formations, sea caves, and a river for boating and swimming, this beach is the epitome of Northern California’s diversified landscape.

Activities:

  • Surfing and Surf Kayaking: The waves are often just right for surf enthusiasts.
  • Tidepooling: Explore tide pools teeming with marine life.
  • Walking and Climbing: There is Plenty of sand for strolls and rocks to climb.
  • Boating and Swimming: The Little River provides an alternative to ocean activities.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available near Moonstone Grill restaurant, which overlooks the beach.
  • Restrooms: Facilities are available.
  • Dining: Moonstone Grill restaurant offers coastal dining with a view.

Safety:

Warning: Always use caution when swimming or boating in the river. Lifeguards are not present.

Read: 36 Top Things to Do in Pismo Beach, California 

35. Luffenholtz Beach

  • Perfect for Photographers, Nature Lovers, Tide Pool Enthusiasts
  • Unique Feature: High bluffs and scenic overlook
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Trinidad
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring through Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations
Luffenholtz Beach by jeffreyschwartzphotography

Luffenholtz Beach is noted for its high bluffs and stunning views. The scenic overlook and tide pools make this beach a photographer’s paradise.

Activities:

  • Photography: Capture the stunning coastal bluffs and tide pools.
  • Tidepooling: Explore the rich marine life during low tide.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Limited parking available.
  • Restrooms: None available; plan accordingly.

Safety:

Warning: The high bluffs can be dangerous; exercise caution. No lifeguards on duty.

Read: 70 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara, California

You have powerful storms in your mind? Visit the silent beaches to calm your storms! 

Mehmet Murat ildan

Best Beaches in Del Norte County

Discover rugged beauty and secluded gems where the Redwoods meet the ocean, making for a surreal beach experience unlike any other.

36. Crescent Beach

  • Perfect for Families, Nature Lovers, Beachcombers
  • Unique Feature: Secluded with a crescent-shaped coastline
  • Nearest Coastal Town: Crescent City
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer and Early Fall
36 Best Beaches in Northern California You Need to Visit, Travel Realizations

Crescent Beach offers a peaceful, secluded atmosphere. Its crescent-shaped stretch of sand provides an ideal setting for beachcombing and enjoying the natural surroundings.

Activities:

  • Beachcombing: Look for unique shells and driftwood.
  • Picnicking: A quiet spot to enjoy a meal with a view.

Facilities:

  • Parking: Available but limited.
  • Restrooms: No public restrooms are available.

Safety:

Warning: As a secluded area, always be alert for changing tides and currents. No lifeguards on duty.

Read: 36 Top California National Parks, Monuments, and Historic Sites – A comprehensive guide!

The beautiful colourful stones of the beaches must never forget that they shine because of the waves! Let us always honor the things that turn us into something admirable!

Mehmet Murat ildan
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Travel Realizations

As I pen down this extensive guide to the 36 Best Beaches in Northern California, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe and gratitude for the breathtaking beauty that this part of the world offers.

From Carmel’s enchanting sands to the rugged, less-trodden paths of Humboldt County, each beach has a unique narrative, just waiting to be discovered.

In a world that increasingly exists online, these pristine locations serve as a grounding reminder of the beauty in our physical world.

They urge us to pause, to breathe, and to connect — not just with nature but also with ourselves and our loved ones.

So, pack your sunscreen, grab your camera, and let the magnetic pull of the Pacific guide you to your next realizations as you explore these remarkable coastal gems. After all, “the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever,” as Jacques Yves Cousteau once wisely said.

Happy Exploring!

Your Fellow Traveler,

Chirasree Banerjee, Travel Realizations.

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Chirasree Banerjee

Hello. My name is Chirasree. I have been traveling for almost 11 years to places all over the world. I enter into a separate reality during my travels and enjoy the allure of escape from the mundane. I seek beauty through nature and human-made creations. Because beauty is powerful. I seek knowledge. I observe, absorb, and write about the places I visit and the profound realizations and inspirations that each place has to offer.