Beaches of Point Reyes

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Point Reyes National Seashore contains approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) of shoreline, much of which park visitors may safely explore. Some beaches—such as Palomarin and Sculptured Beaches—are good for tidepooling, while other beaches are covered by vast expanses of sand.

Getting to the Beaches

Visitors may drive almost right up to Drakes Beach, Limantour Beach, and the Great Beach (at the North and South Beach parking lots). The rest of the park's shoreline may only be accessed by trail or by boat. For driving directions to beaches or trailheads for beaches, visit our Directions to Park Destinations page.

Safety

The ocean water may be as low as 10°C (50°F), so those without wetsuits rarely stay in the water for long. Hypothermia, sneaker waves, and rip currents are just a few of the hazards of which visitors should be aware. Please visit our Safety Issues Associated with Beaches page.

Beach Closures

Beaches may be closed at various times of the year to better protect northern elephant seals and harbor seals during their pupping seasons, western snowy plovers while they are nesting, or for visitor safety. Please visit our Current Conditions page to learn about any current beach closures.

 
A cartoon of a broken wine glass and a broken bottle surrounded by a red circle with a diagonal red line.
Glass containers are prohibited at beaches.

Rules and Regulations

While most beach-goers follow park rules and regulations and Leave No Trace principles, every now and then, park staff encounter someone who isn't taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. Some of the park regulations commonly violated by beach-goers include:

  • Glass: Possession of a glass container within fifteen meters (fifty feet) of any riverbank, lakeshore, or beach, or on the water, or in a vessel is prohibited. This restriction is necessary to reduce the amount of injurious trash in the park and for the protection of visitors who frequent these areas in bare feet.
  • Take only pictures; leave only footprints: Almost everything one finds at Point Reyes' beaches is protected by law, including shells, rocks, fossils, flowers, and artifacts.
  • Wildlife: Do not chase or feed the gulls (or any other birds) and keep your distance from seals and sea lions.
  • Drones: Launching, landing, or operating a remotely operated aircraft (aka "remotely piloted aircraft," "unmanned aircraft," or "drone") from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Point Reyes National Seashore is prohibited.
  • Metal-detectors: Metal-detectors are prohibited throughout the National Seashore.
  • Pets: Pets are permitted on certain sections of Kehoe, Limantour, and Point Reyes Beach (aka, Great Beach) and must be restrained by a 1.8-meter (6-foot) leash at all times. Visit our Pets page for more information.
  • Camping: Camping on beaches is prohibited, with the exception of some beaches on the west side of Tomales Bay. Visit our Backcountry Camping page for more information.
  • Wood fires: Within the National Seashore, visitors may have wood fires only on park beaches if a Beach Fire Permit has been obtained in advance. Visit our Beach Fires page for more information.
  • Fishing: Fishing is permitted along most park beaches, but not along Drakes Beach or the western end of Limantour Beach. Visit our Fishing page for more information.

Please visit our Park Regulations page to familiarize yourself with some of the other rules pertaining to visiting the park.

If you observe violations of any of the above regulations in Point Reyes National Seashore, please call park dispatch at 415-464-5170 or contact staff at the nearest Visitor Center as soon as possible. If you observe drone use in other National Park Service areas or if you find photographs or videos online or elsewhere that were illegally taken within National Park Service areas from drones, you can report the violation to the National Park Service tip line at 888-653-0009 or by email.

Although it is not a regulation, the following request is in line with Leave No Trace principles: if you build any driftwood structures during your visit, take them down before leaving the beach so that future visitors arriving at the beach might have the chance of feeling as if they are the first persons to set foot on the beach.

 
A colorful vertically-aligned box attached to a wooden fence with a beach in the background.
Pick up a reusable bag from a Beach Clean Up Station for gathering trash you find on the beach.

Help Keep Your Beaches Clean

The beaches of Point Reyes frequently are named as some of California's cleanest beaches. Please help protect marine life and keep your park's beaches clean by disposing of refuse in the garbage cans/dumpsters located at beach and trailhead parking lots. Or come out to help clean up the beaches on California Coastal Cleanup Day on the third Saturday of September.

We hope that your visit to these beaches is safe and enjoyable.

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Descriptions of Beaches

 

Abbotts Lagoon Beach

A 2.5-kilometer (1.5-mile) walk through coastal scrub, across a bridge over a stream between two lagoons, and over sand dunes brings you to this ocean beach. The lagoons attract large numbers of migrating shorebirds in the fall, followed by the wintering ducks. Occasionally peregrine falcons are seen selecting their meals amongst these tasty morsels. The sand dunes backing the beach are home to the threatened western snowy plover. The eggs and young of this ground-nesting bird are easily destroyed. Be especially careful in this area during their nesting season, June 1–September 15.

Heart's Desire Beach

Heart's Desire Beach is part of Tomales Bay State Park. It is a nice sheltered cove on Tomales Bay that is excellent for families with small children. The ocean water tends to be a little warmer at this beach.

Palomarin Beach

Palomarin Beach is at the south end of Point Reyes, between Bolinas Point and Wildcat Beach. This trail is a strenuous walk down the cliff. The beach is good for tidepooling at minus tides.

Trail Closure: On September 24, 2020, Palomarin Beach Trail was determined to be unsafe due to unstable and failing sections of the trail and is closed to all visitors, employees and residents until further notice.
Determination of Temporary Closure - September 24, 2020, until further notice - signed on September 24, 2020 (27 KB PDF)

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    Last updated: November 29, 2021

    Contact the Park

    Mailing Address:

    1 Bear Valley Road
    Point Reyes Station , CA 94956

    Phone:

    415-464-5100
    This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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