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The Best Beach Camping in Marin County

From the picturesque views of Marin Headlands to the remote paradises in Point Reyes, Marin County’s beaches have it all. Here’s your guide to the best beach camping in Marin County.



 

Kirby Cove Campground

Marin Headlands

 

Highlights: Kirby Cove Campground is a scenic wonder with panoramic views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate. Battery Spencer’s overlook gives an especially dazzling close-up of the famous bridge. A beautiful grove of cypress and eucalyptus trees shade the campground, and a sheltered beach of clear, turquoise water is only a short walk away. Marin Headland has plenty of exciting day adventures with miles of hiking and biking trails, historic military bases, Rodeo Beach, and Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Tent-Camping, Kid-Friendly, Open Seasonally (April 1st-October 31st)

Activities: Sightseeing, Swimming, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Canoeing, Fishing, Hiking, Picnicking, Historic Sites

Amenities: Campfire Rings, Food Storage Lockers, Vault Toilets, Grills, Picnic Tables, Tent Platforms

Know Before You Go: NO potable water. No lifeguard on duty. Four-wheel drive is highly recommended; otherwise, park near Battery Spencer and hike the mile down. Reservations are a minimum of three months in advance. Foghorns sound from the bay—bring earplugs. Raccoons (use the food lockers!).

 

 

Back Ranch Meadows Campground

China Camp State Park

 

Highlights: Historical, picturesque, and adventure-filled, Back Ranch Meadows Campground is a fun getaway for the whole family. The beach is located at China Camp Village—a richly historic Chinese fishing village—and is sheltered within the San Pablo Bay for the ideal swimming hole of calm waters and reduced currents. The water is also warmer than most beaches in Marin County at a toasty 65-75℉. For the fit swimmer up for the challenge, a swim around Rat Rock is the perfect exercise. Back Ranch Meadows Campground is a short and beautiful 3-mile drive from the beach. Lush meadows reach out toward the ocean, oak trees and bay laurels nicely shade the campsites, and there are 15 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore. Boat launches are located at Bullhead Flat and Lower China Camp Village where fishing enthusiasts can catch striped bass, flounder, perch, and sturgeon.

Tent-Camping, Walk-In-Only, RVs, Kid-Friendly, Dog-Friendly, Open Year-Round

Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Windsurfing, Picnicking, Horseback Riding, Hiking, Bicycling, Nature/Wildlife-Viewing, Museum, Historic Sites

Amenities: Potable Water, Showers, Restrooms, Dressing Rooms and Rinse Showers at Beach, Picnic Tables, Grills, Fire Pits, Food Storage Containers, Recycle Bins, Snack Bar (open on weekends), Handicap Accessible

Know Before You Go: No lifeguard on duty. Time the tides when swimming. Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails. RVs are allowed for ONE night only—space permitting. Campsites are walk-in only (50-300 yards from the parking lot).

 

 

Wildcat Campground

Point Reyes National Seashore

 

Highlights: The Palomarin Trail to Wildcat Camp is stunning with terrain that shifts from coastal cliffs to lush forests to dazzling lakes to wildflower meadows. Birds, bees, butterflies, and dragonflies soar through the air. Breathtaking cliff views and the sound of hidden waterfalls truly make it a spectacular hike. The trail is well used and well populated in most places, but becomes more remote and less maintained closer to Wildcat Camp. The campsite rests in a gorgeous meadow overlooking the ocean, and Wildcat Beach is only feet away. Alamere Falls—a magnificent waterfall that plunges thirty feet over a cliff and into the sea—is a mile walk south on the beach during low tide. A steep, slippery climb up a narrow trail on the cliff side will lead to a set of four more smaller waterfalls that splash into pools of crystalline water. The first two pools are even big enough to swim in!

Tent-Camping, Hike-In-Only, Open Year-Round

Activities: Backpacking, Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding, Nature/Wildlife-Viewing

Amenities: Waterspouts (usually potable), Vault Toilets, Food Storage Lockers, Picnic Tables, Charcoal Grill

Know Before You Go: Not for beginners! Hike is moderate to strenuous. High tides can reach the base of the cliff and trap hikers going to Alamere Falls. Coastal erosion is very dangerous. Rare to no cell service. Little to no shade at campsites. Campground is accessible via Palomarin (5.5 miles), Bear Valley Visitor Center (6.3 miles), and Five Brooks (6.7 miles, open to bicyclists).

 

 

Lawson’s Landing

Dillon Beach, CA

 

Highlights: Lawson’s Landing is the go-to for water adventures. It has a sheltered bay with a mild undertow that is perfect for paddleboarding, kayaking, and swimming. It is also home to Tomales Dunes, which provides a backdrop of picturesque coastal bluffs. Boats, owned or rented, can cast off from the marina where all manner of fish from surfperch to stingray can be caught. The Boathouse not only has fishing supplies, clothing, snacks, and beach toys, but the staff are also a wealth of knowledge and allow you to charge your phone. Dillon Beach is a two-mile long stretch of wide, flat sand, perfect for morning runs or starlight walks, and filled with tidepools, shells, rocks, and the rare sea glass. The waves call for surfers to hitch a ride. Dogs happily run off leash, and kids have a blast flying kites and sledding down dunes.

Tent-Camping, RVs, Trailers, Kid-Friendly, Dog-Friendly, Open Year-Round

Activities: Fishing, Boating, Clamming, Swimming, Surfing, Windsurfing, Body-Surfing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Kiteboarding, Kite Flying, Nature/Wildlife-Viewing, Handicap Accessible

Amenities: Picnic Tables, Portable Toilets, Raised Fire Pits, Two RV Waste Stations, Boat Rinse Areas, Recycle Bins

Know Before You Go: Little to no shade at campsites. Reservations are minimum of 16 weeks in advance. Sites 301-316 are walk-in-only. Sites 101-316 are best recommended for tents, and sites 701-762 are best recommended for RVs.

 

 

Kayak, Ridge, Sunrise, and East Bay Sites

Angel Island

 

Highlights: Angel Island’s beaches are uncrowded gems. Quarry Beach, located a mile from Sunrise and East Bay Sites, has soft sand and panoramic views of San Francisco that makes it perfect for sunbathing and strolling. It is also protected from the wind and the only beach on the island with waters calm enough for swimming. Perle’s Beach is .3 miles from Ridge Sites and awards visitors with dramatic views of the Golden Gate. An unmarked beach below Kayak Group Camp has a vast collection of shells and rocks and can be reached by a narrow trail or kayaking from Tiburon. Both Ridge Sites and East Bay Sites have unbeatable views and are shaded with trees perfect for hanging hammocks. Sunrise Sites, per their name, have the best sunrises that shine over Oakland and Berkeley. Angel Island has plenty to explore with 13 miles of hiking trails, nine miles of bicycle trails, and a rich military and immigration history.

Tent-Camping, Hike-in-Only, Open Year-Round

Activities: Sightseeing, Hiking, Biking, Swimming, Fishing, Windsurfing, Sailing, Picnicking, Nature/Wildlife-Viewing, Museums, Historic Sites

Amenities: Potable Water, Pit Toilets, Restrooms (around the island), Food Lockers, Picnic Tables, Fire Rings, Charcoal Grill, Recycle Bins

Know Before You Go: No lifeguard on duty. Strong currents and rough waters around Angel Island make swimming dangerous, especially at China Cove and Perle’s Beach. Kayak and Sunrise sites do not offer much shade. East Bay Sites are mostly protected from the wind. Foghorns sound from the bay—bring earplugs. Raccoons (use the food lockers!). Arrive via ferry (Tiburon or San Francisco) or private boat.

 

 

Coast Campground

Point Reyes National Seashore

 

Highlights: Coast Campground is the perfect beginner backpacker excursion. The hike is short and scenic, and the campground is a seaside escape. The campsites are within 200 yards of Santa Maria Beach where the sand is pure, and the sunsets are breathtaking. The beach has tide pools and is sheltered within Drakes Bay for calmer waters. The campsites are in a semi-protected canyon that blocks most of the coastal wind. Point Reyes has over 150 miles of hiking trails and some of its best day hikes begin at Coast Camp. The Woodward Valley Trail is a two-mile stretch of remote wilderness that is wonderful for getting (metaphorically) lost in nature. The beautiful sands of Limantour Beach, the dazzling cliffs of Sculptured Beach, and the stunning views of Sky Camp also make excellent day hikes.

Tent-Camping, Hike-in-Only, Open Year-Round

Activities: Backpacking, Hiking, Swimming, Biking, Horseback Riding, Nature/Wildlife-Viewing

Amenities: Waterspouts (usually potable), Vault Toilets, Food Storage Lockers, Picnic Tables, Charcoal Grill

Know Before You Go: No lifeguard on duty. Hike is easy to moderate. Rare to no cell service. Little to no shade at campsites. Sites 1-7 are more secluded, and sites 8-14 are more open. Sculptured Beach is a nude beach. Campground is accessible via Laguna Trailhead (1.8 miles), Limantour Beach (2.3 miles), and Coast Trail on Limatour Road (2.8 miles, open to bicyclists).

 

 

Steep Ravine Environmental Campground

Stinson Beach

 

Highlights: Steep Ravine is a remote paradise. The views are sweeping, the sunsets are stunning, and the quiet is intoxicating. Crashing waves, chirping birds, and a peaceful atmosphere make for perfect relaxation. The campsite is located on an isolated plateau ideal for sunrise yoga and star-gazing. On a clear day, the ocean views stretch from Twin Peaks in the south to Stinson Beach in the north. A small, secluded beach is only a short walk down from the campground and is wonderful for water adventures or dozing in the sun. For only two hours at minus tide, a small hot spring appears north of the beach. Hiking trails up the cliffs lead to panoramic views of the Pacific, and day trips to Muir Woods, Muir Beach, and Stinson Beach are only short drives away.

Tent-Camping, Cabins, Walk-In-Only, Open Year-Round

Activities: Swimming, Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Canoeing, Yoga, Nature/Wildlife-Viewing

Amenities: Waterspouts (usually potable), Vault Toilets, Restrooms, Picnic Table, Food Locker, Fire Pit, Firewood (for sale), Handicap Accessible

Know Before You Go: No lifeguard on duty. Time the tides when swimming. Rare to no cell service. Little to no shade at campsites. Marin Tidal Hot Springs is a challenging, steep trail and a nude beach.

 

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