Your Guide to Northern California’s Beaches

Our beautiful hotel in Humboldt County, CA, located along the Redwood Coast, provides the perfect launching pad for your California beach vacation. We are conveniently situated near an extensive list of beaches, from private and quaint to popular and vast. Enjoy everything from picnicking and beachcombing to taking photographs and hiking. Or just find a cozy spot to sit and relax under an umbrella while admiring the mighty Pacific’s waves rolling in and out, an array of wildlife on land and sea, and picturesque views of cozy coves, sandy dunes, and rocky bluffs. Humboldt County has over 110 miles of coastline! So here is your guide to Northern California’s Beaches. 

South of Fortuna

Centerville Beach County Park (23 min.)

Centerville Beach is the closest beach to The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel. This day-use only park is located west of the City of Ferndale along Centerville Road, and offers free access. This secluded beach stretches for 9 miles, offering plenty of space to plop down in the sand away from others, or walk the shoreline. You’ll enjoy stunning views of the sandstone cliffs, wildlife, and birds. During the months of April and May, you just may witness mother whales migrating with their young. Pack a picnic, bring your pup, ride horses on the beach, beachcomb for sea treasures, or relax in front of a beach bonfire. 

Black Sand Beach (1 hr. 28 min.)

This renowned beach takes longer to reach but the rewards are worth the journey. Topping many top-10 bucket lists, Black Sand Beach is located on the north end of Shelter Cove, part of California’s famous Lost Coast. It’s off the beaten path, and so provides a wonderfully secluded and quiet place to enjoy nature in the raw. Plan to visit during low tide for best access and a chance to explore the beach. The ocean is too rough to swim here but you can enjoy beach walks, beachcombing, and tidal pools, and watching the harbor seals and sea lions. Be sure to pack beach sandals as the sand is pebbly. 

Mattole River Beach (1 hr. 33 min.)

Located at the mouth of the Mattole River at the north end of King Range National Conservation Area, Mattole River Beach is in a remote area – perfect for a quiet morning or afternoon by the sea. Enjoy beachcombing, collecting driftwood, and sunbathing. The Lost Coast Trail begins here, so if you’re planning to hike too, then this is a great beach to visit. 

North of Fortuna

Samoa Beach (33 min.)

Just a half-hour north of Fortuna, Samoa Beach stretches south to Samoa Dunes Recreation Area and entrance to Humboldt Bay, and then north to Manila Beach. This is the ideal spot for beachcombing as driftwood and other items are regularly washed ashore. You’ll also spot surfers as they take on the mighty Pacific and the great white sharks, which are often spotted. Shark attacks have increased in recent years, so beware. 

Clam Beach County Park (44 min.)

Located just off Redwood Highway 101 near the city of McKinleyville, Clam Beach is aptly named for the plentiful razor clams for which beachgoers love to dig. Boasting a long, wide stretch of flat shoreline, you’ll appreciate the continuous ocean frontage which connects to Mad River Beach County Park to the south and Little River State Beach to the north. Visitors love building sand castles and flying kites here, and the ocean topology creates a long flat wave slope, which is suitable for surfing. If you want to add hiking or horseback riding, then take the Hammond Coastal Trail which starts here and goes south for about five miles to Mad River Beach.

Houda Point Beach/Camel Rock (48 min.)

Be sure to bring your camera as there are multiple picture-worthy spots. First is Camel Rock, a large rock located offshore that looks like a two-humped camel (the official name of the island is Little River Rock). North of the point is Houda Point Beach, where you’ll find another large rock that is reachable at low tide. A third large rock, Pilot Rock, is visible in the distance. On a clear day, you can see Trinidad Head to the north. South of the Point, you’ll find Houda Cove, perfect for sunbathing or collecting driftwood. 

Little River State Beach (48 min.)

Here at Little River State beach, trails and beaches are available during the day and dogs are welcome. Public restrooms are available (check ahead if they’re open), but parking is limited. You’ll appreciate the sandy dunes and broad open beach which is bordered by Little River to the north and Clam Beach County Park to the south. The beach is located five miles south of Trinidad and 13 miles north of Eureka, just off Highway 101. The weather can be unpredictable, so we do recommend layered clothing.

Moonstone Beach (48 min.)

Located along Moonstone Beach Drive which parallels Highway 1, and part of San Simeon State Park, you’ll find brown sandy coves along the shoreline separated by rocky bluffs. Along the bluff top is a wooden boardwalk, which spans the length of Moonstone Beach from Santa Rosa Creek to Leffingwell Landing. Dogs are allowed on the trails and boardwalk only, as long as they’re on a leash. Day-use parking lots are available or pull-outs along Moonstone Beach Drive. 

Luffenholtz Beach (49 min.)

Located in Humboldt County Park, Luffenholtz Beach features a large scenic overlook on a rock where you can see charming Trinidad with picnic tables nearby. The beach is north of the overlook, which you can reach via stairs north of the parking lot. There are a few parking spots with beach access, but you’ll have to get there early as they get taken first first. From Trinidad, head down Scenic Drive for a couple miles and look for Luffenholtz Beach Park on the right.

Mad River Beach (49 min.)

Perfect for picnics, long walks, beachcombing, fishing, and wildlife viewing, Mad River Beach County Park features coastal dunes and grasses. This location also provides great ocean beach access where young and old alike can play in the dunes or beachcomb in either direction on this vast beach. Keep your eye out for roosting Barn Owls in holes in the high bluffs across the river as well as nesting black-capped Chickadees, Philadelphia Vireo, Warblers, and Summer Tanager. Dogs are allowed to be unleashed as long as they’re under complete control.

Baker Beach (51 min.)

Known by the locals as just “Baker’s,” this secluded cove beach just south of Trinidad is mostly a locals beach. Due to its secluded location, you may also discover a minimally-clad crowd. Out in the water are many rocks and larger sea stacks that provide added visual interest. From Trininad, drive down Scenic Drive, and after passing Baker Ranch Road on the left, start looking for pull-out parking spaces along the road. You should see a sign at the trailhead that says access was provided by Humboldt North Coast Land Trust and the California State Coastal Conservancy.

College Cove Beach (51 min.)

To the north of Trinidad State Beach is College Cove where you’ll find a popular beach with protected waters that are safe to enter under calm conditions, as well as cool rocks and tide pools to explore. Low tide is the best time to visit, so plan accordingly. 

Old Home Beach (51 min.)

Also known as Indian Beach, Old Home Beach is a narrow strip of protected beach on Trinidad Bay that offers picturesque rocks and beautiful views.  

Trinidad State Beach (52 min.)

Currently open at limited capacity, this long stretch of sandy beach is easy to access and offers plenty of parking for you and your four-legged canine friends. If you like to add hiking to your beach day, check out the Trinidad Head (south end of parking lot) for incredible ocean views. The park offers restrooms, a picnic area, parking, trails, an open grassy area, and spruce forest. View Map

Agate Beach (55 min.)

Imagine two miles of sandy solitude amidst Northern California’s rocky shoreline. This long, remote beach is a haven for beachcombers and nature lovers. Whales, sea lions and shore birds share the beach with beachgoers. But do not enter the waters or turn your back on them. Choose a spot far enough away to safely enjoy the sights and sounds. Picnicking, kite-flying, photography, and relaxing are popular activities here. 

Big Lagoon County Park (58 min.)

This is an excellent spot for beachcombing and strolling. In fact, trekking along this sandbar offers open access to each side for the entire length. Boating, kayaking and canoeing are also very popular at Big Lagoon (boat launch is at the south end of the lagoon). Note: Big Lagoon and the beach are part of three different parks: Big Lagoon County Park, Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area, and Humboldt Lagoons State Park. Day-use only ($5/vehicle) with access to restrooms.

Cannonball Beach (58 min.)

Cannonball Beach offers beachgoers quite a sight with fewer crowds. Situated near Sumêg Village and close to Palmer’s Point, it’s worth stopping here if you’re in the area. 

Book your stay at The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel in Fortuna, CA and get ready for some serious beach time.

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