San Francisco has impressive beaches to enjoy the refreshing ocean air, but most of them can get extremely busy. If you are a beachgoer who prefers relaxing on hidden spots, we recommend visiting these secluded beaches in the Bay Area that will delight you with scenic hiking trails and incredible views, but most importantly, no crowds so you can enjoy true peace and serenity in the sun!
This hidden Northern California beach is located in Inverness, CA, on the northwestern coast of the quiet Point Reyes National shore. It is also the last westward beach from Tomales Point that is easily accessed.
This charming place features the scenic Tomales Point Trail for hiking. In addition, a small creek that joins the beach leads to tide pools to explore carefully at low tide. From the hiking trail, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the ocean below.
Popular activities at McClures Beach include beachcombing and gathering driftwood, sunbathing and relaxing, moreover it is a geological wonderland too where some of the Bay Area’s most ancient rocks such as gneiss and schist can be found.
The area’s oldest rock, the Sur Series metamorphic rock is said to be 1.7 million years old! If you love hiking and exploring natural attractions, this is one of the most interesting secluded beaches in the Bay Area to visit.
This remote Bay Area beach is well hidden on the westward side of Point Reyes National Seashore. In fact, you must trek more than one half-mile down a dirt trail into a valley to reach Kehoe. Once there, you will marvel at the long beach and endless sand dunes with views of the rugged bluffs above.
Take care when walking near the surf in order to avoid the frequent and tricky rip currents in this area. Engaging activities here include hiking, strolling on the sand as well as dog walking since there is a pet-friendly section.
Kehoe is one of those secluded beaches in the Bay Area that requires a little preparation to visit. Due to its location, the weather can change in instant here so bring warm clothing!
The secluded Drakes Beach is safeguarded by the Chimney Rock point, creating moderately gentle surf for safe waterside playing and stand-up paddleboarding. This geologic site on the end of Point Reyes is ideal for walking and relaxing on the sand and you can see elephant seals here! Also, this place offers informational exhibits at Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center that Is open around the weekends.
When at Drakes Beach, make sure to climb up the Peter Behr Overlook has splendid views of the bay below. The Point Reyes Lighthouse is also nearby, providing more spectacular views of the bay and lagoon. Picnic tables are also available although this spot generally closes in autumn, so plan your visit accordingly!
Stinson is a spacious, family friendly Northern California beach. This popular yet partially hidden seaside haven is in the town of Stinson Beach, CA, just an hour’s drive north from San Francisco. During morning hours in winter, this is an ideal spot for walking, jogging and for beachcombing.
Swimming is refreshing here, but rip currents are common, and guests are advised to seek the lifeguard’s advice before taking a dip in the ocean. In summer, a friendly snack bar is available near the lifeguard tower, and there are attractive restaurants not far away.
In the western side of the Marin Headlands, Tennessee Cove Beach lies within Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is a dark-sand beach that is a two-mile trek from the Tennessee Valley Trailhead, probably this is the reason why it made it to one of the most secluded beaches in the Bay Area. The trail down into the valley runs past a small pond and ends on the sandy beach below.
If you visit this spot during low tide, you may catch sight of the rusty wreckage of a steamship. The SS Tennessee miscalculated the entrance to the Golden Gate in 1853 during dense fog. Prior to the shipwreck, the valley was called Elk Valley after the Tule elk, but now it is known as Tennessee Beach.
Black Sands Beach
One of the most gorgeous hidden beaches in Bay area is this dark-sand spot below Marin Headlands. It is on the eastern side of Bonita Cove, and there is a steep unpaved trail to the sand from the hillside. The trek downward is eased by wooden steps along the steep slope.
A short walk away along the beach is the Point Bonita Lighthouse. Remember that this beach is quite narrow during high tide, so try to plan your visit during low tide. Although, note that because of its remoteness, many people consider this place clothing optional, so don’t be surprised to see people sunbathing au naturel.
Located north of the San Francisco Bay entrance, this lightly populated spot offers probably the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge framing the splendid city of San Francisco. To reach the sand, you must head downhill for one mile on Kirby Cove Road.
This colorful beach displays a mixture of dark red and brown sand plus countless multi-hued pebbles. A gravel road is available for bikers to tour the Headlands. As you descend to the cove from Battery Wagner at the top, you will pass another gun placement site.
Favorite activities here include hiking, biking, camping, barbecuing, picnicking and photography, so all types of beachgoers find here something to do. If you would like to spend more time enjoying the views that this secluded Bay Area beach can offer, you can make a reservation three months before your arrival to stay in the tent camp.
Montara State Beach
One of our favorite secluded beaches in San Francisco Bay Area is Montara State Beach because of its picturesque features. As a background, intriguing sculpted cliffs of sandstone create a highly desirable scenic area.
This beautiful dog-friendly San Francisco beach is directly north from the town of Montara on the San Mateo County Coast. Approaching the beach from the north, a wide path and steep steps descend to Martini Creek and the point where it crosses Montara Beach.
McNee Ranch is also situated, offering walking trails leading upward to Montara Mountain. You will find the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel just to the south, which is a fascinating place to spend the night! Don’t miss out on this opportunity when planning a unique California beach getaway!
SeaSpiration Tip: if you don’t mind driving a little more south, visit some hidden Santa Cruz beaches too!
As one of the windiest Bay Area secret beaches, it is easy to understand why Funston Beach remains less crowded most of the times. However, those who don’t care about the harsh conditions can enjoy scenic hiking paths on the bluff here. There are two separate routes that lead down to the sand. You may encounter a concrete structure coated with graffiti that displays a golden dog-man as you reach the beach.
You can also spot sand dollars and fossils along this route. You will also pass Battery Davis, a military structure with two tunnels. At another point is a wooden observation platform with fabulous ocean views. Both bikes and horses are acceptable for riding on the park trails.
If you wish to enjoy the same great Golden Gate Bridge view that Bakers Beach can offer but away from the crowds, China Beach is that Bay Area secret spot where you need to go! This spot was a camp for Chinese fishermen in earlier years, for whom it was named.
It is also among those hidden beaches in Bay Area where you can do fishing and surfing, although it is not safe for swimming. If you visit at low tide, you can enjoy exploring the various tide pools. There are several ramps and walkways down to the beach and also numerous hiking paths south of the cove at Lands End.
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When it comes a beach vacation, Vic is the person who certainly has tips on where to go and what to do no matter it is a luxury tropical holiday, peaceful seaside getaway or a family trip to the ocean. She enjoys exploring new places, trying out various water sports and most of all, loves sharing her tips with those seek out their next adventure.