One of the best things about San Ramon is it is so conveniently located near famous cities, unique sights and attractions, and close to both the coast and the mountains. A short drive will take you to some of Northern California’s most beautiful and tranquil beaches tucked away from heavy traffic. Here you will hear only the sound of the surf crashing on to the shore, smell the salt in the air and marvel at the beauty and power of the ocean.
There are so many scenic beaches to the north and south of San Ramon that are ideal for a day trip that you’ll need to work at either picking the best or visiting more than one beach. The catch with beaches in Northern California is that many beautiful beaches are too cold to swim in. Beaches good for surfing can be also hard to swim in. Most of the beaches do not have lifeguards, so please exercise caution when going into the waves.
Beaches South of San Ramon and in the Peninsula
The beach by Santa Cruz Boardwalk is a warm beach. With gentle surf and mostly sunny skies in the summer, this popular beach is ideal for surfing, walking, and playing beach volleyball. Families and visitors bring picnics, towels and settle in to enjoy the gentle breeze blowing off the ocean. This is a busy beach and one to visit if you are looking for entertainment and the comforting company of a friendly crowd.
Capitola Beach is just five miles from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It is a quieter beach and one of the prettiest city beaches in California. Although less crowded than the Santa Cruz Boardwalk it is busy. You can get some wonderful views of Monterey Bay and a view of the brightly-painted cottages by the shoreline.
Half Moon Bay has four miles of tranquil, sandy beaches. Visitors come here to enjoy sunbathing, fishing, and picnicking. For those who wish to linger and enjoy the scenery, there’s a campground where they can spend the night. The weather in Half Moon Bay tends to be foggy in the summer, changing to crisp, clear days in the fall and spring; and finally wet, windy days in the winter. In the mornings and evenings in summer fog is common, often burning off by late morning.
Moss Landing State Beach is popular for offshore fishing, surfing, windsurfing, and horseback riding. Visitors enjoy picnicking at the beach because it is protected from afternoon winds by the dunes. Moss Beach is also an important stop for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway so bird watching is a popular activity. Water recreation is discouraged as dangerous rip currents flow by the beach.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach.
Montara Beach is very popular with visitors because of the numerous tide pools. Another popular activity is surf fishing. There’s a lighthouse at Point Montara if you are looking for an overnight stay. A prominent landmark is Montara mountain (also called McNee Ranch) a northern spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is well-known because it is the only undisturbed Coastal Mountain Habitat found in that 100 mile stretch of coastline. Dogs are allowed on the beach if they are leashed up to six feet.
Other beaches popular in the area are Linda Mar Beach and Rockaway Beach in Pacifica.
Beaches North of San Ramon
Point Reyes National Seashore is a vast coastal open space with spectacular rocky headlands and endless sandy beaches. Watching the waves break against the shore or walking through the open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges are some of the activities visitors come from all over the country to enjoy. There are more than 1,500 species of plants and animals in Point Reyes and a network of several beaches. Historically this area was the home of several coastal cultures that thrived and interacted amongst each other for thousands of years. Visitors will enjoy the invigorating walks along a cold beach.
Stinson Beach is a lovely quiet beach ideal for exploring, relaxing, and to enjoy a picnic. The Beach is open every day, year round at 9:00 a.m. Depending on the season, closing times will vary. In the summer the average water temperature is 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Check for warning updates for shark attacks and rip currents. The best times to swim are late May to mid-September when lifeguards are at the beach.
Facilities at Stinson Beach include picnic areas, BBQ grills, rest rooms, and showers. The parking lot tends to fill quickly on nice days. Check for daily information on weather and other updates by calling (415) 868-1922.
Muir Beach by Highway 1 is three miles west of Muir Woods and a local favorite. A quiet cove, beach, and lagoon offer a lovely setting to spend time at. To hike around the area, go up to the Dias Ridge trail which runs along a ridge above Muir Beach. You can get spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Marin coastline. There’s another hike to the east to Coyote Ridge or head to the southern Coastal Trail to Tennessee Cove. While you are there a small signpost north of Muir Beach along Highway 1 will lead you to Muir Beach Overlook.
Nature enthusiasts will enjoy Redwood Creek at Muir Beach where myriad shorebirds, amphibians, salmon and trout, and rushes (Juncus) thrive.
Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda is home to the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, a reserve for aquatic birds and other salt marsh creatures. Crab Cove is a marine reserve within Crown Memorial. Crown Memorial Visitor Center has exhibits of the area's colorful past when it was a tourist attraction with bathing spas, live concerts, hot-air balloons, carnivals, and baseball games. It was appropriately called the "Coney Island of the West".
The park itself has 2.5 miles of beach and a bicycle trail. There are picnic tables, barbecue pits, and a lawn area. The beach is open for swimming but there are no lifeguards. Among its events is a sand castle and sand sculpture contest held in June.
Agate Beach in Bolinas is a lovely beach to explore tide pools during low tide. The rocky pools are rife with hermit crabs, snails, anemones, starfish and fish. Agate Beach is also ideal for a day in the sun, and enjoying the wildflowers in season along with bird watching. The beach is 6.6 acres and has two miles of shoreline. Dogs must be leashed and are not allowed to enter the tide pools.