View of Doran Beach at Bodega Bay from Bodega Head

Bodega Bay Beach: Complete guide about beaches in Bodega Bay (2024)

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Being a Northern California local, I have visited Bodega Bay several times for its epic beaches and hikes. It is only around 1.5 hours away from San Francisco, making it ideal for a day trip or weekend getaway.

Bodega Bay is a picturesque coastal village in Sonoma County along the ruggedly beautiful Northern California coastline. Being a coastal town, the beaches and epic ocean views are the main draw here.

Doran Beach in Doran Regional Park is the most famous beach in Bodge Bay. There are also several other beaches north and south of Bodega Bay village.

Let’s discover Doran Beach and other Bodega Bay beaches in this small coastal town along the Pacific Coast.

Main Bodega Bay Beach: Doran Beach

Doran Beach, located within Doran Regional Park, is the main beach in Bodega Bay. It is part of Sonoma County Regional Parks.

Doran Beach is known for its expansive shoreline and is a popular beach in Bodega Bay for picnics, kite flying, and beachcombing. It’s also a hotspot for birdwatching and fishing.

You can see a stunning panoramic view of this crescent-shaped beach from the Bodega Head (more on this later). I took a picture of the entire stretch of the beach from Bodega Head, and it was a spectacular view.

View of Doran Beach at Bodega Bay from Bodega Head
Panoramic view of Doran Beach from Bodega Head
  • Distance of Doran Beach from Bodega Bay – 2 miles, 6 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lots, Restrooms, campground
  • Fee – Yes, around $7
  • Path to the beach – Yes
  • Dogs allowed – Yes, on-leash

Things to do at Doran Beach

Doran Beach is ideal for beach fun, coastal views, views of Bodega Head, and relaxation. Below are some of the top things to do here:

Beach walks: Doran Beach has a 2-mile-long sandy stretch, ideal for walking either on the beach or the sandy trail that runs parallel to the beach.

Picnicking: Picnic tables and benches along the shoreline and in the park allow for a pleasant beachside lunch or snack.

The beach can be windy, and I would advise having your lunch at the picnic tables instead of having a picnic on the beach. We learned that the hard way! On a very windy day at Doran Beach, all our food got covered with sand during one of our visits!

Swimming: While the water can be chilly, I have seen people enjoy swimming in the bay. Just be cautious of strong currents and check for any posted warnings.

Kite Flying: The open space and steady breeze at Doran Beach make it an excellent spot for flying kites.

Birdwatching: Doran Beach is a haven for birdwatchers. You can spot various shorebirds, gulls, and other coastal species. Make sure you have your binoculars handy!

Sunset Viewing: Doran Beach offers spectacular sunset views over the Pacific Ocean.

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly rated Private Sailing Tour of Bodega Bay on a 33-foot-long sailboat with a licensed captain to show you the sights. Private for only your group of 4 to 6 people.

Sailboat in the ocean at Doran Bay

Facilities at Doran Beach

Entry Fee and Parking: There is a parking fee (around $7) to access Doran Regional Park and Doran Beach. Doran Beach has ample parking areas, but on summer weekends, you might have to arrive early to get parking. On a Saturday morning in the summer, the entry line was so long that we went to the nearby North Salmon Creek beach instead.

Camping: Doran Regional Park features a campground with tent and RV camping sites where you can enjoy beachfront camping. It’s a fantastic way to experience the beach and ocean up close. You can make campsite reservations on the Sonoma County Parks reservation website.

Restrooms and Showers: Clean restroom facilities and outdoor showers are available to rinse off sand and saltwater after a day at the beach.

Dog-Friendly: Doran Beach is one of the dog-friendly beaches on Bodega Bay, and on-leash dogs are allowed on the beach and in the campground.

More Popular Bodega Bay Beaches

Besides Doran Beach, there are several other beaches in and around Bodega Bay to explore. Several of these are either north or south of Bodega Bay town.

The Sonoma Coast State Park stretches around 17 miles north from Bodega Head to a few miles north of Jenner Beach.

There are several beaches on this stretch of the Sonoma Coast, like Salmon Creek Beach, Shell Beach, Wrights Beach, and many more covered below. Long stretches of sandy beaches below rocky headlands are typical of Sonoma Coast beaches.

The Sonoma Coast beaches are not ideal for swimming as the ocean current can be very strong here with riptides. These beaches are great for relaxing and enjoying the ocean views. Maybe even fly a kite or two!

Below is a comprehensive list of other beaches around Bodega Bay on the Sonoma Coast:

Campbell Cove Beach, Bodega Head

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 4.5 miles, 10 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot at Bodega Bay Trailhead, Parking lot at Campbell Cove Beach, Vault restroom
  • Fee – No, it’s free
  • Path to the beach – Yes, for Campbell Cove Beach
  • Dogs allowed – No

Bodega Head is a prominent headland at the entrance of the bay and offers fantastic hiking trails and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a prime spot for whale watching and taking in spectacular sunsets.

Even though you can see Bodega Head right across Doran Beach, it takes around a 10-minute drive to reach the Bodega Head parking lot from Doran Beach and around a 7-minute drive from Bodega Bay town.

Whenever we visit Bodega Bay, we first drive straight to Bodega Head to hike the Bodega Head Trail and soak in the stunning cliffside views. Later, we go to Doran Beach to relax at the beach and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Ocean bluffs at Bodega Head
Ocean bluffs at Bodega Head

Bodega Head offers stunning cliffside views, and the rocky coastline is beautiful and dramatic.

The only beach at Bodega Head is Campbell Cove Beach, a small cove with calm water and great for families on low tide days. There is a small parking lot next to the beach and vault restrooms.

Bodega Head Trail is an easy 2-mile loop trail along the cliffs with dramatic views. Keep in mind there are some steep drops here from the ocean bluffs, so it is important to stay on the trail path.

You can see a panoramic view of the crescent-shaped Doran Beach from Bodega Head, which is really neat! I couldn’t get enough of this view!

During your hike, you might encounter a pond in the center of the cliff filled with water. This geological feature is referred to as the “Hole in the Head.”

I was intrigued by the name and tried to find it while hiking on Bodega Head. It looks like a collapsed crater filled with water and is a good spot for bird-watching.

There are some sandy coves here, but there is no access path to them, and it might be unsafe to climb down the cliffs. The water can also get quite rough here.

Bodega Dunes Beach

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 2.4 miles, 7 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot, Vault restroom, campground
  • Fee – Yes
  • Path to the beach – Yes
  • Dogs allowed – Not on the beach, on leash in the campground.

North of Bodega Head and south of South Salmon Creek Beach lies Bodega Dunes Beach. There is a day-use fee to access the beach.

A short walk from the parking lot over a wooden boardwalk takes you to the beach. The beach is nice with sand dunes and a great stretch of sandy shoreline.

The beach has a campground and a parking lot at the tail end of Bodega Dunes Rd, off Hwy 1. Bodega Dunes Campground has several tent and RV sites with showers and restrooms. It is often crowded at this beach due to the campground.

The Bodega Dunes Beach is open from dawn to sunset. Dogs are not allowed on the beach but on the campground and must be on a leash.

Salmon Creek State Beach

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 4 miles, 7 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot, Vault restroom
  • Fee – No, it’s free
  • Path to the beach – Yes
  • Dogs allowed – Yes, on-leash

Salmon Creek State Beach is a short drive north of Bodega Bay along California’s Highway 1, making it easily accessible for visitors exploring Bodega Bay.

Salmon Creek State Beach is made up of two beaches – North Salmon Creek Beach and South Salmon Creek Beach. There is no fee to use the Salmon Creek beaches. Remember to leave no trace behind!

North Salmon Creek Beach is the most visited of the two and has a wide sandy stretch of beach with a large parking lot.

Sandy shores and ocean at North Salmon Creek Beach at Bodega Bay
North Salmon Creek Beach at Bodega Bay

There is some incline from the parking lot to go down to the beach with some steps towards the end. If you are looking for an accessible beach, Doran Beach is a better choice.

We once ended up at North Salmon Creek Beach instead of Doran Beach, as the line to access Doran Beach was really long. So we came here and loved the beach, plus it was free to access!

The Salmon Creek flows between the North and the South beaches. When the tide is low, you can usually walk across Salmon Creek to access South Salmon Creek Beach. The Salmon Creek Beach also has a small parking lot on Bean Ave.

Schoolhouse Beach

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 4.2 miles, 7 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot, Vault restroom
  • Fee – No, it’s free
  • Path to the beach – Yes
  • Dogs allowed – Yes, on-leash

Schoolhouse Beach is a small cove surrounded by headlands. The beach sand is made of small, smooth, pebbly stones, making it distinct. Due to the pebbles, I recommend wearing sturdy footwear or flip-flops.

The sound of waves and picturesque views here offer a peaceful experience. There are tidepools where you can spot sea creatures like star anemones, starfish, etc. It’s a great place to bring the family on low tide days for tide-pooling fun.

The beach has a parking lot and a clear path to the beach down. Not wheelchair accessible, though. Dogs are allowed on the beach, but on leash, as with most Sonoma State beaches.

Ocean Views at Bodega Bay

Portuguese Beach

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 4.3 miles, 8 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot, Vault restroom
  • Fee – No, it’s free
  • Path to the beach – Yes
  • Dogs allowed – Yes, on-leash

Portuguese Beach is adjacent to Schoolhouse Beach and is separated by ocean bluffs. The beach offers an elongated stretch of coastline, perfect for leisurely strolls along the shore or kite flying. The sand is somewhat pebbly here, and footwear is recommended.

There is a parking lot off Highway 1 for Portuguese Beach, with a sandy path leading down to the beach. There is a vault restroom as well.

For those traveling with furry companions, dogs are permitted on the beach as long as they are kept on a leash.

Wright’s Beach

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 6.2 miles, 11 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot, Flush restroom, campground
  • Fee – Yes, parking fee to access the beach
  • Path to the beach – Yes
  • Dogs allowed – Yes, on-leash

Wright’s Beach is a famous beach with a parking lot right by the beach. There is a parking fee to park at the beach.

The beach here offers a long expanse of sandy shoreline, perfect for walks or to sit and watch the waves crashing on the rocks.

The beach is not suitable for swimming due to strong riptides. There are warning signs posted everywhere advising against entering the water here.

Wright’s Beach campground here offers a range of campsites, including those for tents and RVs, and many are just steps away from the beach.

This proximity to the shoreline allows campers to fall asleep to the soothing sound of ocean waves, making the beach a very popular camping spot.

Shell Beach

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 7.8 miles, 14 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot, Vault restroom
  • Fee – No, it’s free
  • Path to the beach – Yes, but uneven
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, on leash

Shell Beach shares a parking lot with Kortum Trailhead. There is a steep path down to the beach from the parking lot with uneven wooden steps. Going down to the beach is not recommended for people with knee or stability issues. It’s not an accessible beach.

The beach is very rocky, and on low tide days, you can see cool tidepools with sea creatures like hermit crabs, anemones, starfish, and more.

Kortum Trail near Shell Beach with ocean views
Kortum Trail near Shell Beach with ocean views

The main highlight here is the nearby Kortum trail, which is amazing. We hiked the Kortum trail from the Shell Beach parking lot to Peaked Hill and enjoyed the well-maintained trail and the panoramic ocean views.

Goat Rock State Beach

  • Distance from Bodega Bay – 10.5 miles, 21 minutes by car
  • Facilities – Parking lot, Vault restroom
  • Fee – No, it’s free
  • Path to the beach – Yes
  • Dogs allowed – Yes, on-leash

Goat Rock State Beach, situated along the Sonoma Coast near Bodega Bay, offers a dramatic landscape with a massive sea stack and a long sandy stretch of beach. It’s a great beach to watch the waves and maybe some seals and an occasional surfer.

As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean, with Goat Rock, a huge sea stack, standing tall just offshore. The beach is a mix of sandy stretches and rocky outcrops, creating a picturesque setting.

Goat Rock State Beach and ocean views
Goat Rock, seen on the right

At the very northern end of the beach, you can spot seals and sea lions resting where the Russian River meets the ocean. If you have binoculars, you can get a good view.

Swimming is not advisable here due to the strong riptides and waves. Goat Rock State Beach facilities include a spacious parking area, picnic tables, and restrooms, making it a convenient spot for a day at the beach.

The parking lot provides easy access to the beach, allowing you to soak in the breathtaking scenery and enjoy leisurely walks along the shore.

Beaches with no access path or facilities

Some Sonoma State beaches do not have a defined path to the beach and are more like sandy coves below ocean bluffs.

Coleman Beach

There is no parking lot, but there is space to pull out on the side of Hwy 1 near the beach. The beach is quite rocky, and there is no access path to the beach. There is an overlook for Coleman Beach further down the road.

Arched Rock Beach

Arched Rock Beach has a parking lot on Hwy 1, and a Vista Point to see the Arched Rock. There is no defined path to get down to the beach. It is great for a quick stop to see the views from the parking lot.

Carmet Beach

Carmet Beach has a parking lot, and Vista Point on Hwy 1. The beach is quite rocky, and there is a steep incline to climb down to the beach.

Where to stay at Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay offers a range of accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. You can find cozy coastal inns, vacation rentals, campgrounds, and hotels.

The Lodge at Bodega Bay is one of the best places to stay in Bodega Bay. Right at the entrance of Doran Beach, this 4-star resort has a full-service spa, fitness center, and pool. The resort has two onsite restaurants and a golf course nearby.

The Inn at the Tides is a great mid-range hotel with excellent ocean or countryside views. The hotel has complimentary breakfast and parking. There is a pool, fitness center, and restaurant onsite. The hotel location is convenient to walk to several restaurants and shops.

Vacation rentals are a great alternative for larger groups or if you are traveling with friends or family. Vacation rentals have much more space to spread out and have a kitchen to assemble quick meals.

Vacation rental with ocean views in Bodega Bay
Our Vacation rental with ocean views in Bodega Bay

Check out this oceanfront home with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a hot tub, and sweeping floor-to-ceiling ocean views!

Travel Tips for Bodega Bay

The below travel tips will help you plan your visit to Bodega Bay to enjoy its several beaches:

How to get to Bodega Bay?

Bodega Bay is located on the Northern California coast and is accessible by car. The most common way to reach Bodega Bay is by driving along Highway 1.

If you’re coming from San Francisco, it’s about a 70-mile drive north and takes around 1.5 hours. Bodega Bay is a great addition to any San Francisco vacation.

You can also reach Bodega Bay from other parts of Northern California via scenic coastal routes.

When is the best season to visit Bodega Bay?

The best season to visit Bodega Bay largely depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to do. Summer is typically the most crowded, especially the Bodega Bay beaches.

However, many visitors find that late spring through early fall (May to October) offers the most pleasant weather for outdoor activities and enjoying the beaches. This period typically has milder temperatures and less rainfall.

If you’re interested in whale watching, the winter and early spring months are prime for observing gray whales during migration.

How to get around Bodega Bay?

Bodega Bay is a relatively small coastal town, and getting around is primarily done by car. You can use your own vehicle or rent a car if needed. Walking and cycling are also options within the town, particularly for short distances.

Public transportation options are limited, so having your vehicle is recommended for exploring the surrounding area and attractions.

Where to eat at Bodega Bay?

Bodega Bay offers several dining options for all budgets. Some popular restaurants include:

Drakes Sonoma Coast: Located at Bodega Bay Lodge, this upscale restaurant offers farm-to-table cuisine with ocean and sunset views.

The Tides Wharf & Restaurant: A local waterfront classic known for its seafood, offering casual dining with water views.

Spud Point Crab Company: A favorite for seafood lovers, especially known for its clam chowder, chili, and crab sandwiches.

Fishetarian Fish Market: A casual spot for fresh seafood dishes, including fish and chips, tacos, and chowder. Has a nice outdoor seating area with picnic tables.

The Birds Cafe: Named after the famous Alfred Hitchcock film, this cafe offers breakfast and lunch options in an outdoor setting with water views. Great fish tacos!

These are just a few options, and you’ll also find cafes, bakeries, and other eateries in the area to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Be sure to make reservations in advance if you plan to dine at popular restaurants, especially during weekends or peak tourist seasons.

sea stacks in the ocean at Bodega Bay

FAQs about Beaches in Bodge Bay

Below, you will find answers to frequently asked questions about Bodega Bay.

Does Bodega Bay have a beach?

Yes, Bodega Bay has several beautiful beaches along its coastline. The most famous and largest beach here is Doran Beach, which also has a campground and a 2-mile-long stretch of sandy beach.

There are several other nice beaches north of Bodega Bay town, like Salmon Creek Beach, Bodega Dunes Beach, and Wright’s Beach. These beaches offer impressive coastal views of rocky bluffs.

Does Doran Beach cost money?

Yes, there is typically a parking fee for visitors to Doran Beach, which helps support the maintenance and facilities of the beach and nearby Doran Regional Park. However, the fee is subject to change, so checking the current rates before your visit is advisable. It is usually around $7 to $10 per car.

Do people swim in Bodega Bay?

Yes, people do swim in Bodega Bay, but it’s important to be aware of the ocean conditions and safety precautions. Bodega Bay’s waters can be cold and have strong currents, so swimmers should exercise caution and be mindful of posted warnings.

Some beaches, like Doran Beach, are more suitable for swimming than others. Sonoma Coast beaches are not suitable for swimming due to the strong riptides.

Is it worth going to Bodega Bay?

Yes, Bodega Bay is definitely worth a visit. It offers several beaches, stunning coastal scenery, outdoor activities like hiking and birdwatching, fresh seafood dining, and a peaceful coastal atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or outdoor adventure, Bodega Bay has something to offer.

Which beaches in Bodega Bay have campgrounds?

Doran Beach and Bodega Dunes Beach have campgrounds nearby. Doran Regional Park features a campground right by Doran Beach, making it a convenient option for beachside camping.

Bodega Dunes Campground is located near Bodega Dunes Beach and is another popular choice for campers. Wrights Beach, north of Bodega Bay, has a campground right next to the beach.

Which beaches in Bodega Bay are dog-friendly?

These Bodega Bay beaches allow dogs but must be on leash: Doran Beach, Salmon Creek State Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, Portuguese Beach, Wright’s Beach, Shell Beach, Carmet Beach.

Which beaches are free to visit in Bodega Bay?

These Bodega Bay beaches are free to visit – Salmon Creek State Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, Portuguese Beach, and Shell Beach.

Which Bodega Bay beach is most accessible?

The Doran Beach is the most accessible Bodega Bay beach. The parking lot is at the same level as the beach. The other beaches along the Sonoma Coast are below rocky headlands, and most have dirt paths to get down to the beach, which are not wheelchair-friendly.

Final takeaways: Bodega Bay Beach

In conclusion, Bodega Bay Beach is a hidden gem along the Northern California coastline. Whether you’re interested in sunbathing, hiking, birdwatching, or simply relaxing by the ocean, Bodega Bay will amaze you with its natural beauty and jaw-dropping coastal views.

Bodega Bay has a variety of beaches to explore, each offering its unique appeal. So, whether you are planning a leisurely day at the beach, a weekend getaway, or a coastal adventure, Bodega Bay’s beaches are waiting to welcome you with the soothing sound of crashing waves.

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