by Jeffrey Lu
Posted on 21st June, 2015
The moment you ask someone for suggestions on beaches near San Francisco, they would suggest beaches that are either in the Santa Cruz or Big Sur area. This is to be expected, and for a good reason! Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places I know, and Santa Cruz is often thought of as the go-to beach town in the Bay Area. Here are some beaches closer to home (all within 2 hours of San Francisco) that are often (undeservedly) neglected...
Beautiful beach, just a quick drive south of SF? Yes, please!
Usually not too crowded, but can get packed on the summer weekends (as a rule of thumb, the same goes for any beach in the area). Great natural scenery, but be warned: clothing-optional!
Did someone say tidepools?
Perks of living close to the ocean: easy access to marine life! Tidepools are fascinating for all ages: expect to see small fish, hermit crabs, snails, sea stars, lots of anenomes and even some sea urchins here at FMR. If you're lucky, you'll see octopi too. (There are seals hanging about as well). This place can get pretty crowded on weekends with hordes of children, but it's manageable. And please refrain from prying Patrick star off his rock. He doesn't like that.
Farther, but quieter. The beach trio south of Half Moon Bay.
These three beaches are situated farther south of SF, and are generally quieter (but remember: weekends = mass migration of people to beaches). Also worth checking out Pigeon Point Lighthouse and Butano State Park while you're in the area. (San Gregorio shown below)
Have you seen an elephant seal before? Spot an otter too.
Ano Nuevo State Park is known for its elephant seals. They hustle in and out of the park depending on the time of year, so check with the park (or Wikipedia for general info) for best viewing times. Male elephant seals should be in the vicinity at this time of year (summer). They're loud, snorty, and fun to watch.
To the Marin Headlands we go!
Just across the Golden Gate, you have this beauty! The rocks sticking out of the ocean are super photogenic, making this beach fairly popular among shutterbugs.
San Francisco's best kept secret?
I can't say that I saved the best for last, as all of these beaches are fantastic, but Marshall Beach is hands down one of my favorite spots to relax and soak in the beautiful scenery. Goregous view of the Golden Gate Bridge! People always direct you to Baker Beach if you want a beach with a view of the GG Bridge, but unless you can't resist the spectacle of scores of naked men tanning away accompanied by what looks like it could be the GGB far off in the distance, Baker Beach is way overrated. Marshall Beach is literally right next to the GG Bridge, and it's almost always a quiet place to meditate by the ocean (I believe Marshall is also de-facto nude, but it's usually so quiet it's not something I notice).
Things to note:
California is a beautiful state, and its beaches are just one small part of what California nature has to offer. If you haven't already trekked down to Santa Cruz or Big Sur, make plans to go! And if you've already crossed that off your list, spend some time venturing around these local beaches. I've spent nearly my entire life here (minus those trips abroad), and I still can't stop exploring. Happy beachgoing.
Do you have any such lesser known beaches to share? Let us know in the comments section below. Liked what you read? Share it with your friends!
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San Francisco, California, Beaches, San Gregorio, Ano Neuvo, Gray Whale Cove State Beach, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Rodeo Beach, Marshall Beach