Since its founding in 1963, Sea Ranch has gained a devoted following of architecture enthusiasts, nature lovers, and abalone divers undeterred by treacherous surf and frigid ocean temperatures.

While Sea Ranch beaches may not be suitable for swimming, they’re definitely worth a visit for their dramatic rock formations and spectacular ocean vistas come rain, fog, wind, or sunshine.

Black Point Beach

As the southernmost of the six public beaches in Sea Ranch, Black Point Beach is known for its intensely hued sand and wall-like cliffs that guard a wide ocean cove. You’ll see surfers braving the rip currents and admire beautiful views of the Black Point peninsula to the south, all mere steps from a wonderful selection of regional wines at the Black Point Grill.

Pebble Beach

pebble beach park
Pebble Beach | Photo courtesy of gwen

Not to be confused with the famous golf course of the same name on the Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach takes its name from the black, pebble-like sand that fills this sheltered cove. Popular among birders and hikers, this small beach has a wealth of tide pool activity at low tide when visitors can often spot starfish, anemones, urchins, and mussels.

Stengel Beach

A grove of wind-blown cypress trees marks the access point to Stengel Beach, a broad expanse of sand accessed by a long wooden staircase. This beach is perhaps the most picturesque in Sea Ranch, thanks to seasonal waterfalls that cascade from the cliffs and waves that crash dramatically on the rocks. Just don’t forget to bring your camera, especially if you visit at the golden hour or sunset.

Shell Beach

 sunrise shell beach
Photographer at Shell Beach | Photo courtesy of Chris D 2006

The beauty of spending a day at Shell Beach is the sheer variety of natural entertainment available. Bring along that yellow bat for a low-tide game of wiffle ball, wander out into the tide pools to get a glimpse of life under the sea, or find a perch on one of the neighboring bluffs to watch the harbor seals at play. But be sure to keep an eye on the ever-changing tides or risk being stranded by the advancing water.

Walk On Beach

 walk on beach sea ranch
Walk On Beach | Photo courtesy of Big D2112

With a quarter-mile of sand that spans two adjacent coves, Walk On Beach is a favorite among beachcombers, families, and hikers in particular. This beach marks the public access point to the Bluff Top Trail, a stunning ocean path that hugs the coastline between Walk On Beach in the south and Gualala Point Regional Park three miles north. And along the way, you may just catch sightings of local deer, fox, bobcats, seals, dolphins, and whales.

Gualala Point Regional Park

gualala point regional park
Gualala Point | Photo courtesy of Karen Rustad Tolva

Encompassing 195 acres at the northernmost point of the Sonoma Coast, Gualala Point Regional Park sits at the edge of the Gualala River Estuary, a popular spot for fishing and kayaking. The park also offers a network of trails, picnic tables, a visitor center, a sandy crescent beach, and one of the best spots for wildlife viewing in Sea Ranch. Take a walk to Whale Watch Point between January and May, and you’re likely to spot a few spouts from migrating grey whales.

Featured image courtesy of Big D2112

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Author: Maura O'Brien

Born and raised in Northern California and now based in Portland, Maura credits her mom with her sense of adventure. Maura has a special affinity for national parks, the Greek island of Folegandros, and a three-month trip across Europe with her sister that opened her eyes to the magic of travel.