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