Local Explorations

Beaches and Parks

Shell Beach

A great spot for spotting seals and tide-pooling, this sandy beach is one of six access-point beaches along Highway 1 in the Sea Ranch community. It’s a little more than a half-mile walk from the access point, through some pine trees and a meadow.

9 miles south of Mar Vista at Sonoma County mile marker 55.24

Pelican Bluff Trail

This great coastal walking trail is about 2 miles atop high cliffs—the magnificent ocean vistas make it a Mar Vista favorite.

Right before the town of Point Arena, at Mendocino Mile marker 13.9 (approximately)

Gualala Point Regional Park

This park features several trails, including an ADA-accessible trail that leads to the beach through meadows and cypress. The bluff-top trail connects Gualala Point to the Salal trail south into the Sea Ranch community. Follow for 3 miles to get to Walk On Beach.

6 miles south of Mar Vista, at Sonoma County mile marker 58.19

Bowling Ball Beach

Pictured above, this geological wonder is at the north end of Schooner Gulch beach. Take the north trail from the parking area for a short beach hike to the rock formations that resemble large bowling balls. A must-see at low tide for the best viewing and tide-pooling!

6.5 miles north of Mar Vista at Mendocino County mile marker 11.41

Moat Creek Trail Beach

Also called Whisky Shoals, this area is popular with surfers and also good for abalone shells and tide-pooling. There are two trails from the parking structure. One is a very short path straight out to the rocky beach; to access the bluff trail, take the steps leading up to the bluff for stunning ocean views. This trail will take you to Ross Creek Beach after about a mile. If the tide is low, you can continue south to Bowling Ball beach.

Less than 8 miles north of Mar Vista at Mendocino County mile marker 12.89

The Stornetta Public Lands

Great trails for hiking, running, whale-watching, and picnicking surrounding the Point Arena Lighthouse just north of the town of Point Arena. You’ll find beautiful, flat, wide-open pathways and steep beach access at Sea Lion’s Cove.

14 miles north of Mar Vista, just a couple of miles after the town of Point Arena

Gualala River Redwood Park

Pay a day-use fee to walk the redwood trails along the river, or bring your kayak and float to the sea. The park is only open during summer.

Just south of downtown Gualala, past the Gualala Arts Center

Local Tides

Most beaches can be enjoyed at tides of 3’ and under with some variance depending on the beach. For the best tide-pooling, it’s best to visit when tides are below 1.5’. Even during low tides the ocean waves can be large and dangerous during certain weather patterns. Always be cautious and stay away from edges and cliffs.

Other Local Activities

Point Arena Lighthouse

A historic landmark that celebrated 150 years in 2020, the 115-foot-tall Point Arena Lighthouse is known for the many great viewing areas for whale-watching throughout the year. It also offers a fully interactive experience to learn about the history and science of this area.

Go through the town of Point Arena, then turn left and travel 2 miles to reach the point

B. Bryan Preserve

This private preserve is actively committed to the breeding and preservation of African hoof stock—its various species of zebra, giraffe, and antelope range from critically endangered to endangered, and roam large, open fields on the property in Point Arena. Guided and self-guided tours are offered daily (reservations required).

14 miles north of Mar Vista, at the end of the town of Point Arena on Riverside Drive

Adventure Rents

Kayaking and canoe rentals along the Gualala River, open Memorial Day through fall, depending on weather and river conditions. Note that reservations are given priority over walk-ins.

Access at the bridge over the Gualala River, 1 mile south of town

Annapolis Winery

Our local winery, atop a sunny hilltop in Annapolis. The winery specializes in wines made with locally grown grapes and uses sustainable farming practices. There are outdoor areas for visitors to picnic.

20 miles south of Mar Vista

Gualala Arts Center

A vibrant and active arts association supporting a variety of programs for both residents and visitors to the area. On the second weekend in August each year, they present one of the most prestigious art exhibitions in northern California—the Art in the Redwoods Festival. Don’t miss the short and scenic haiku trail on the grounds, as well as picnic tables, a sculpture garden and another trail leading to the river.

Just south of the town of Gualala

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