Beaches in Point Reyes

The pristine beaches of Point Reyes are some of the most spectacular on the entire California coast. The unique and varied topography of the region gives each beach its own unique personality. Whether you love beachcombing, tide pooling, wave watching, bird watching, sunbathing, kayaking, or boating, there’s a perfect beach for you somewhere on Point Reyes.

Note that the weather can change considerably during the course of the day, so you should wear layers to adapt to changing conditions on any given day. Swimming conditions also vary by location. Some beaches have very dangerous rip currents, or the threat of sneaker waves. Prior to entering the water, please check with park rangers, park personnel, or lifeguards about conditions and always obey the posted warnings.

Below are some of the best beaches in Point Reyes:

Abbotts Lagoon Beach is a great place for bird watching. The sand dunes backing the beach are home to the endangered snowy plover.

Drakes Beach is one of the nicest beaches at the Point Reyes National Seashore. The tall cliffs provide shelter from the usual northwest summer winds. There is a visitor center, cafe and memorial to Sir Francis Drake, who visited these shores in the 16th century. A well-known sand sculpture contest is held here every Labor Day Sunday.

Heart's Desire Beach is a part of Tomales Bay State Park, and sits in a nice, sheltered cove of Tomales Bay, where the ocean water tends to be a little warmer, making it perfect for families with small children.

Kehoe Beach can be accessed after a half-mile walk alongside a marsh and over a sand dune. Once at the beach, turn left to explore the stream meandering to the Pacific Ocean. To the right, you can explore the giant dunes. Follow the beach further north to see the dramatic juxtaposition of rocks on the nearby cliffs, which combine sandstone with granite and other minerals. Dogs are allowed on a 6-foot leash on this beach to the north of the trail, but not permitted south of the trailhead in order to protect the habitat of the endangered snow plover.

Kelham Beach is a quiet, secluded beach, just north of Arch Rock, that is only accessible by a 4.8-mile hike from the Bear Valley trailhead. The trail from Coast Trail is closed due to cliff erosion, and we do not advise hikers to access the beach from this point.

Limantour Beach stretches a mile in each direction from its access point at the end of Limantour Road. It’s the perfect spot for taking long walks, wading, bird watching, beachcombing or picnics. The nearby Estero de Limantour is a favorite spot for bird watchers due to variety and number of birds that populate it.

Marshall Beach is a sheltered beach on the Tomales Bay side of Point Reyes National Seashore, south of Tomales Point. A 1.2-mile hike from the parking lot takes you to this beach, which has a lovely view of the coast across the bay.

McClures Beach, at the base of Tomales Point, is probably Marin's most scenic beach, with its rugged coastline framing both ends. During very low tides, there are great tide pools at the south end.

Palomarin Beach is a wonderful beach for tide pooling during low tides. Visitors should note that the trail to the beach requires a strenuous walk down a steep cliff.

Point Reyes Beach, or Great Beach as it’s also known, is an incredible expanse of over 10 miles of undeveloped beach, with dramatic surf and gorgeous views. You can access both the North and South Beaches by car. Dogs are only allowed with a 6-foot leash, and cannot go further north than the North Beach entrance, which is considered protected habitat for the snowy plover. Watch out for “sneaker waves.”

Sculptured Beach can be a wonderful place for exploring. You’ll find tide pools and its signature rock formations there, along with a blowhole where the sea really does "blow through." Nature lovers will find birds, passing whales and dolphins, incredible sunsets and wonderful sand to enjoy.

Wildcat Beach is south of Limantour Beach, near Alamere Falls. A 5.5-mile hike from the Palomarin trailhead is the shortest route to get there, but once you arrive, you’ll find a gorgeous, white sand beach that’s also very popular for horseback riding.