The Bay Area’s Best Beach Hikes
Saying that this is beach weather is probably taking it a bit too far, but we’re gonna do it anyway. Here are our favorites.
A Hidden Gem Near Santa Cruz
Panther Beach’s white sand, clear water, and sandstone rock formations make it one of the most stunning beaches along this stretch of CA 1. It also requires you to hike in. Once you get down to the beach, we recommend you continue around to the left and head through the natural arch in the cliff and set up camp at Hole in the Wall Beach. The extra work is worth it – it’s a bit more secluded and a pretty amazing spot. Learn more.
Inside Tip: Since there are no signs along CA 1 for Panther Beach, you need to keep you eyes peeled for cars parked along the side of the road (directions). Once you park, you’ll walk across the railroad tracks, and hike down to the beach.
Explore Point Lobos’ Whalers Cove
Point Lobos is one of the hidden gems of the California coast, yet conveniently located right along CA 1. The area’s combination of rugged coastline mixed with beautiful forests will take your breath away. The ocean vistas, rocky shores, and hiking trails can easily be explored for days. It’s such a peaceful and beautiful place to spend a wintry afternoon. Learn more.
Inside Tip: As you explore, be sure to take your time hiking around Whalers Cove, which is incredible at sunset. The misty ocean spray and lush forests will make you an Instagram star.
Enjoy a Dog-Friendly Beach Day
Looking for an off-leash paradise for you and your pup? Look no further than Fort Funston. It’s a beautiful stretch of open beach with multiple trails to explore. It is actually the only place in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where you can have dogs off-leash, so enjoy! Learn more.
Inside Tip: If you’re planning on staying out at the beach for a while, swing by BART Grocery & BBQ and grab a plate of Korean BBQ to take with you.
Hike Kirby Cove
This is an easy 1.8-mile out-and-back trail with panoramic views of San Francisco. Located just across the Golden Gate bridge, it offers a lot of reward for very little effort. Consider packing a blanket and a small picnic – it’s hard to find a better spot to enjoy everything the Bay Area has to offer. Learn more.
Inside Tip: This is an amazing place to beach camp too. Just a stone’s throw outside of San Francisco, you could be camping at night, and back at your desk in the morning. Just be sure to make a reservation for your campsite.
Hike to a 40′ Beach Waterfall
This hike to Alamere Falls should be at the top of your list. It features a relatively easy-to-moderate 8.4-mile roundtrip hike that includes sweeping coastal views, forests, and a fun summer swimming hole along the way, so you can’t go wrong. The view from the beach looking up at the falls is surreal. It’s hard to believe something so cool exists just a short drive from San Francisco. Learn more.
Inside Tip: If it’s been raining, odds are the trail will be pretty soggy, so be prepared. Make sure you pack some water, a snack, and your camera. There is a short, tricky scramble from the upper falls down to the beach, so take your time and watch your step.