Marin County Beaches

August is typically the best time to head to the beach here in Marin. Whether you’re planning to drive, bike or stand-up paddleboard to get there, here is a list of beaches you can find in Marin County.

Bolinas

Agate Beach Park

Highlights: Replete with tide pools, Agate Beach boasts a walkable two miles of sometimes rocky shore. Named after the semiprecious stones found in the pebbly sand, it is great place for a picnic, though it can get windy. Exploring the tide pools and watching whales, sea lions, shorebirds and other wildlife are popular here. Swimming is not advised because of the sharp drop-off and powerful riptide, yet fishing is allowed with a California state fishing license.

Parking: Park at the Agate Beach campground and take the steps down to the beach, or park at the Big Lagoon County Park day use area.

Dogs: Permitted, but must be leashed at all times

Facilities: Portable restrooms in parking lot

Food: Restaurants in nearby Bolinas

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, head north to Bear Valley Road (there are no large signs for this intersection). Turn right and follow the Olema Bolinas Road south to the junction with Horseshoe Hill Road. Turn left and follow the Olema Bolinas Road south to Mesa Road. Turn right and follow Mesa west to Overlook Drive. Turn left and follow Overlook south to Elm Road. Turn right and follow Elm east to the junction of Ocean Parkway. The parking lot for Agate Beach County Park is ahead to the left.

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Bolinas Beach

Highlights: This gem of a beach is popular for its light rolling waves, ideal for all levels of surfing or paddleboarding, and its low-key and dog-friendly vibe. But because it’s not very big, especially during high tide it can be crowded. Bolinas is also great for swimming, supervised little-kid boogie-boarding, and rock collecting at the southern edge along the entrance to the lagoon. SUP and surfboard rentals are at 2-mile Surf Shop on the road to the beach.

Parking: Street parking (tight in the afternoon)

Dogs: Permitted

Facilities: Restrooms near tennis courts in nearby park

Food: Delis and stores in Bolinas

Directions: On Highway One, take a left onto Olema Bolinas Road, which will become Wharf Road. Go straight here, through town, to the end of the road, or turn left at Brighton Avenue and follow it to the end of the road. There are two entrances to Bolinas Beach.

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Dillon Beach

Dillon Beach

Highlights: Located 3.25 miles west of Tomales, this beach was named after Dillon Beach village founder George Dillon, who settled there in 1858. A wide and lengthy white sand expanse great for long walks, it’s a dog-friendly place where pooches can be unleashed and run loose.

Parking: Parking lot, $7 fee

Dogs: Permitted

Facilities: Lawson’s Landing Campground, restrooms

Food: Restaurants in hamlet of Dillon Beach

Directions: On Highway 101 heading north, merge with Petaluma Boulevard south. Take a left on Washington Street, which will become Bodega Avenue, then Valley Ford Road. Go left on Tomales Road and then right on Highway One. Take the first left onto First Street, which becomes Dillon Beach Road. Then take a slight left to stay on Dillon Beach Road, which becomes Cypress Avenue.

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Inverness

Abbotts Lagoon Beach

Highlights: A 1.5- mile walk through shrub and then across a bridge and over a stream and sand dunes brings you to this beach and lagoon. The spot is home to peregrine falcons, the endangered snowy plover, migrating shorebirds in the fall and ducks in the winter. April and May are ideal for bird-watching and wildflower blooms. Binoculars are highly recommended. Swimming is discouraged due to cold temperatures, unpredictable currents and the obvious ”sharky” feel. The beach is popular and sometimes crowded, so arrive early.

Parking: Free parking lot on the left side of Pierce Point Road

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: None

Food: None

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, head to Bear Valley Road and then take Sir Francis Drake Boulevard north along Tomales Bay. At the top of the ridge, turn right on Pierce Point Road. Follow the signs to the beach trail.

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Drakes Beach

Highlights: Ten to 13 million years ago, sands were deposited in a shallow sea, compacted and uplifted, creating the white sandstone cliffs that provide shelter from the wind at Drakes Beach. Elephant seals can be observed from Elephant Seal Overlook above the beach from December through March; make sure to check out the Point Reyes Historic Lighthouse nearby. Drakes also hosts an annual amateur sand castle competition; this year it’s September 2.

Parking: Free parking and drive-up access

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Visitor center, washing stations, restrooms

Food: Drakes Beach Cafe

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, head north to Bear Valley Road. Turn left and follow Bear Valley Road northwest to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Turn left and follow Sir Francis Drake Boulevard west to Drakes Beach Road. Turn left and follow Drakes Beach Road south to the Drakes Beach parking lot.

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Heart’s Desire Beach

Highlights: Part of Tomales Bay State Park, this sheltered cove with clean white sand, waveless waters and lack of wind is favored by families with small children. It’s a peaceful place to listen to the water lap against the shore and read on the warm sand; with convenient drive-up access and a safe, mellow environment, it’s also crowded with kids.

Parking: Parking lot, $8 fee

Dogs: No

Facilities: Picnic tables, restrooms, outdoor showers, barbecue pits, drinking fountains

Food: Close to Tomales Bay Oyster Farm and restaurants in Inverness

Directions: From the Bear Valley Visitor Center, head north to Bear Valley Road. Turn left and follow Bear Valley Road northwest to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Turn left and follow to Pierce Point Road. Turn right and follow Pierce Point Road north to the road on the right, leading into Tomales Bay State Park. Turn right and go about one mile east to the beach.

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Kehoe Beach

Highlights: Walk 0.6 mile along a marsh and over dunes to reach peaceful white-sand Kehoe Beach. This is a great spot for watching birds, viewing colorful spring wildflower blooms and playing in the giant sand dunes. Explore the stream that runs to the ocean and check out the sandstone and granite cliffs. Use caution when swimming; great white sharks are known to patrol the waters offshore.

Parking: Large pullouts along Pierce Point Road

Dogs: Permitted on a six-foot leash on the beach north of the trail; not permitted south of the trailhead

Facilities: Restrooms (wheelchair accessible) near trailhead

Food: None

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, head to Bear Valley Road, then take Sir Francis Drake Boulevard north along Tomales Bay. At the top of the ridge, turn right on Pierce Road. Follow signs to the beach trail.

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Limantour Beach

Highlights: Between Drakes Bay and an estuary sits this soft and sandy beach, over two miles long with rolling sand dunes. It is a popular with hikers and bird-watchers for its bountiful wildlife, including seals and whales in late spring, shorebirds in fall and ducks in winter. Waves are calmer here with the south-facing location and shelter of the Point Reyes Peninsula — it’s a good spot for swimming.

Parking: Parking lot available at trailhead

Dogs: Permitted on a six-foot leash on the southeast end of the beach. Not permitted to the northwest

Facilities: Restrooms in parking area

Food: None

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, head north to Bear Valley Road. Turn left and follow Bear Valley Road northwest to Limantour Road. Turn left and follow Limantour Road west to the parking lot at Limantour Beach.

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McClures Beach

Highlights: A half-mile steep downhill hike leads to McClures Beach, one of Marin’s most scenic. There’s a small cove, usually uncrowded cove, with tide pools at the south end that are perfect for low-tide exploring. Caution: the adjacent beach around the southern corner can only be accessed during the outgoing low tide, and swimming at this beach is not advised because of intense surf and an active shark population just offshore. Harbor seal pupping season is March through June.

Parking: Turn left on Pierce Point Road and descend the hill 100 yards to the west to the parking lot

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Restrooms

Food: None

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, head to Bear Valley Road, then take Sir Francis Drake Boulevard north along Tomales Bay. At the top of the ridge, turn right on Pierce Point Road. Follow signs to the beach trail.

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Tomales Bay State Park

Highlights: Adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore, the 2,000-acre park features hiking trails, surf-free beaches, hills, meadows and marshes. Beaches include Heart’s Desire Beach; Indian Beach (accessed by a gentle nature trail half a mile north of Heart’s Desire, with two reconstructed Miwok bark shelters and restrooms); Pebble Beach (also accessible by trail from Heart’s Desire, with restrooms); and Shell Beach (a 4.1-mile trail walk from Heart’s Desire, or park at the end of Camino Del Mar and take half-mile path to beach). The first three beaches are only accessible by trails or boats. Beware of mountain lions and unstable cliff edges.

Parking: Parking lot on Pierce Point Road

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: None

Food: None

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, head to Bear Valley Road, then take Sir Francis Drake Boulevard north along Tomales Bay. At the top of the ridge, turn right on Pierce Point Road. Follow signs to the beach trail.


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Muir Beach

Muir Beach

Highlights: This crescent-shaped cove tucked into the coast three miles west of Muir Woods has a lagoon and sandy beach with lots of privacy. Monarch butterflies, salmon and frogs can be seen in the marsh; other wildlife includes fox, birds, deer and coyotes. The waves are good for boogie-boarders and kayakers, and fish are plentiful. The northernmost end is a clothing-optional area.

Parking: Free parking lot available

Dogs: Permitted on the beach and some trails

Facilities: Restrooms and visitor amenities near the parking lot

Food: Pelican Inn is less than half a mile northeast

Directions: Take Highway One exit off 101 and continue on Highway One to Muir Beach.

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Point Reyes Station

The Great Beach

Highlights: Explore over 11 miles of undeveloped beach or sit back and watch the towering waves and rough surf. Elephant seals are visible during winter, but people and dogs are not allowed to venture too far south of the South Beach access. Be careful of “sneaker waves” that can catch you off-guard and pull you out to sea.

Parking: Drive-up access at the north beach or south beach parking lots

Dogs: Permitted on a six-foot leash but are not permitted north of the north beach entrance or south of the south beach entrance.

Facilities: None

Food: None

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, drive out to the end of the Bear Valley Road and turn left on to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Drive over the Bolinas Ridge and after almost 30 minutes you will see signs to the beach.

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Kelham Beach

Highlights: From Bear Valley trailhead, hike 4.8 miles through deep forest and near a stream. Though it is an effort to get here, this secluded beach north of Arch Rock has caves to explore. If venturing through the tunnel, be careful – notoriously high tides often cover much of the beach and the surf is unusually strong.

Parking: Parking area available at Bear Valley trailhead

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: None

Food: None

Directions: 0.1 mile south from Bear Valley Visitor Center on Bear Valley Visitor Center Access Road

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Sculptured Beach

Highlights: South of Limantour Beach, this two-mile-long beach has creeks that run across the sand to the ocean. Explore the tide pools that collect in the exposed rocks at low tide and bring binoculars to see birds, whales and dolphins. Clothing is optional and the beach is rarely crowded.

Parking: Parking lot available about 1.5 miles from the beach

Dogs: Permitted on a six-foot leash

Facilities: None

Food: None

Directions: Walk south from Limantour Beach

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Wildcat Beach

Highlights: The almost-six-mile hike from the Palomarin trailhead to Wildcat Beach stops most visitors from making the trek, leaving this sandy stretch perfect for a quiet, relaxing afternoon. During very low tide the walk down to the beach provides the perfect opportunity to see Alamere Falls.

Parking: Parking available at the Palomarin trailhead

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Wildcat Camp with picnic tables, food storage lockers, charcoal braziers, restrooms, water faucets

Food: None

Directions: From Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center, drive south on Highway One about 30 minutes. Turn right at Horse Hill Road or Olema Bolinas Road. (The two roads come together at a stop sign.) Continue onto Mesa Road; turn right and follow the road to the end. The last three-quarters of a mile will be a dirt road, leading to the Palomarin trailhead. Walk the 5.5 miles up the coast to the campground and follow signs to the beach.

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San Rafael

McNears Beach

Highlights: A large park with amenities and activities, McNears is great for large group gatherings. It sits in a sheltered cove in the 55-acre park along the shore of San Pablo Bay and is a narrow bayside beach, safe and easy to access with kayaks and canoes. The fishing pier is popular for catching striped bass, halibut and crab.

Parking: Parking lot, $8 fee

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Swimming pool (summer only), tennis courts, horseshoe court, fishing pier, picnic areas with 21 tables, 12 barbecues, benches, drinking fountain, playfields, restrooms, sand volleyball courts

Food: Snack bar (summer only)

Directions: From Highway 101, take the Central San Rafael exit and go east on Second Street (this will become San Pedro Road). Take the road to Cantera Way.

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Sausalito

Kirby Cove

Highlights: Nestled at the foot of the headlands west of the Golden Gate Bridge, this beach boasts beautiful views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific coast. The steep one-mile trail to the cove begins at the parking area and descends through Monterey pine, cypress and blue gum eucalyptus. It is located at Battery Kirby, a historic military site in use from 1898 to 1934. Though nudity has been banned, be aware that some still sunbathe here in the buff. Fog is prevalent May through September. Overnight camping is available, but bring earplugs — the foghorns can be loud.

Parking: Parking available to the left above Battery Spencer on Conzelman Road.

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Picnic tables, four overnight camping sites and one day-use picnic site (all reached via hiking on steep access road), restrooms, fire rings, food storage lockers, grills

Food: None

Directions: Take the Sausalito exit off Highway 101, drive up into the Marin Headlands on Conzelman Road. To the left, take the long walk down the winding dirt road (through the metal gate) leading to the beach.

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Rodeo Beach/Fort Cronkhite

Highlights: This dark pebble beach is at the westernmost edge of the Marin Headlands. Sit near Rodeo Lagoon or head farther west to Rodeo Cove, where part of the beach is sheltered from the wind by cliffs. It is a popular spot for surfing, sunbathing and picnicking.

Parking: Large parking lot available right beside the beach

Dogs: Not permitted under voice control on the ocean side

Facilities: Restrooms, water fountains, barbecue pits, picnic tables, outdoor showers

Food: None

Directions: From Highway 101, take the Sausalito exit and follow signs for Marin Headlands and the beach.

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Schoonmaker Beach

Highlights: Nestled in the heart of Schoonmaker Marina, this white-sand beach is kid- and water-sport friendly. The shallow, calm water makes it a favorite for families with young children; it’s also a launching point for kayakers and paddleboarders.

Parking: Free parking in very few public spots; otherwise, find legal parking in the close-by lots

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Sea Trek (kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals), water fountain, restrooms

Food: Le Garage (French bistro)

Directions: Head south on Bridgeway. Hook left on Marinship Way and take a right on Liberty Ship Way. Follow it to the end.

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Tennessee Cove

Highlights: This dark-sand beach is one of the most popular in Marin for hiking. Walk two miles on the fire road to the beach or veer right into the hills above Tennessee Valley. The cove at the end of the fire road is surrounded by towering cliffs, and during low tide it may be possible to reach another small sandy beach. The shipwreck of the SS Tennessee, for which the area was named, lies underwater just offshore.

Parking: Free gravel parking lot available at trailhead

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Restrooms in parking lot

Food: None

Directions: From Highway 101, take the Highway One exit. Follow Highway One west and turn left on Tennessee Valley Road. Follow until the end to the gravel parking lot.

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Stinson

Red Rock Beach

Highlights: This popular nude beach, accessible via a steep trail, is a quarter-mile curve of sandy shore tucked into a wind-protected cove between Muir and Stinson. Regarded as the friendliest Bay Area nude beach crowd, regulars are often playing ultimate Frisbee and naked Scrabble. This is a social place and can be crowded on weekends. In winter, the sand washes out and the shore becomes rocky.

Parking: Two small parking lots (one on each side of the road)

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: None (nearest restrooms are at Stinson Beach)

Food: None

Directions: From Mill Valley, follow the signs to Stinson Beach, heading north on Highway One. The beach is just north of milee marker 11 and the entrance to the Steep Ravine Environmental Campground.

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Stinson Beach

Highlights: Three-and-a-half miles of white sandy shore and crashing waves make this spot popular with surfers and tourists year-round. A nearby small beach town and picnic area attract large groups looking to spend a day at the beach. On warm days, get there early — traffic builds up thick and quick. Whale-watching is big here January through March. Lifeguards are on duty May through October.

Parking: Free parking lots on the southern end

Dogs: Permitted on the stretch called Upton’s Beach but not on the National Park Service section of the beach

Facilities: 51-acre park adjacent to beach offers more than 100 picnic tables, barbecue grills, restrooms, showers, kayak and boogie board rentals

Food: Snack bar; restaurants in nearby beach town include Surfers Grill and Parkside Cafe

Directions: From Highway 101, exit Highway One/Stinson Beach. At the stoplight, turn left. Continue straight on Highway One about 12 miles to Stinson Beach.

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Tiburon

Angel Island State Park

Highlights: A mile south of the Tiburon Peninsula lies the largest island in San Francisco Bay. It has a storied past – for over 6,000 years the area was used by Miwok Indians as a fishing and hunting site. From the Civil War to the cold war, the island housed military installations and played a major role in the settlement of the West as a public health quarantine station and an immigration station. For the best view and beachcombing, head to Perle’s Beach, but beware – the water is rough and no lifeguards are on duty. Other beaches include Ayala Cove, which has a barbecue area, and Quarry Point, both sandy and protected from the wind.

Parking: Available at ferry/boat access points in downtown Tiburon

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Park headquarters and the main visitor center are located in Ayala Cove on the north side, the island’s main point of entry; one-hour tram tours with audio; bike rentals; electric scooters; picnic areas

Food: Cove Cafe hosts a barbecued oyster bar and outdoor cantina. Most produce is sourced from Angel Island’s organic garden.

Directions: Access to the island is by ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo or by private boat.

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Paradise Beach Park

Highlights: This 19-acre park with a rocky beach is on Paradise Drive in a residential neighborhood along Tiburon Peninsula shore. A great place to explore the colorful landscape and marine life, it’s also popular for group functions, with plentiful barbecue pits, tables and shady areas. Access is available for kayaks, canoes and fishing gear.

Parking: Parking lot, $8 fee

Dogs: Not permitted

Facilities: Lawn area, picnic tables, horseshoe court, fishing pier, barbecue pits, benches, drinking fountain, playfields, restrooms

Food: None

Directions: From Highway 101, take Paradise Boulevard east to the park on the north side of the peninsula.

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