Beaches on the Mendocino Coast … Including the Treasures of Glass Beach

Stay safe! Read our Ocean Safety tips before venturing near the ocean.

Dog Friendly Beaches

Your dog can accompany you for a stroll along the beach; however, pets must be on a leash at all times.

  • Big River Beach, N. Big River Road, Mendocino
  • Van Damme State Beach, Highway 1, Mendocino
  • Caspar Beach, 14441 Point Cabrillo Dr., Caspar
  • MacKerricher State Park, Highway 1, Fort Bragg (south of Ward Ave only)

Check out our Dog-Friendly page to find out more about things you can do with your dog.

Long Beach Walks

  • Schooner Gulch State Beach (south of Point Arena)
  • Manchester State Beach (Manchester): this wonderful miles-long beach has a fabulous view of the Point Arena Lighthouse.
  • Irish Beach (Irish Beach)
  • Ten Mile Beach, MacKerricher State Park (Fort Bragg): this miles-long beach also has a great view of the Lost Coast to the north.

Unusual Beaches

  • Bowling Ball Beach (north end of Schooner Gulch State Beach – Highway 1 mile marker 11.41, between Gualala and Point Arena) – at low tide you can see rocks the size and shape of bowling balls.
  • Glass Beach (south end of MacKerricher State Park – Fort Bragg) – once the city dump, people come from all over to see the brightly colored glass worn smooth by the surf. The glass are pieces of broken bottles. Now people collect them and some even sell them on eBay. However, this is now part of MacKerricher State Park and nothing may be removed from the beach. It’s still a cool place to go when the sun is shining, and there’s a killer view of the coast from there. The wildflowers are spectacular here in the spring.

Cozy Beaches

These are small beaches, some sheltered in coves. Among these quieter beaches, my favorite is Jug Handle: easy access, wind protected, pretty sunsets, quiet place to read or just hang out. It is not unusual to find these beaches deserted, there just for you.

  • Greenwood Creek State Beach (Elk)
  • Bonham Beach (formerly Cook’s Beach, Gualala)
  • Fish Rock Beach (Anchor Bay)
  • Caspar State BeachCaspar State Beach (Mendocino) – less than 100 yards wide, this is a popular surfing and sunning spot. Huge swing in tides and an adjacent small title lagoon give this beach an ever changing appearance. Even on the biggest winter storm wave days the really big surf never hits this beach. Gradual slope and not a “sneaker” wave beach. You see kids in the water, but in the low 50’s, it’s not a place to be in the water without a wet suit. There is a store across the street with plenty of picnic food, ice cream, sodas, beer, etc.
  • Jug Handle State Reserve (Caspar): See notes about “my favorite” above. If you follow the bluff trail you get sweeping views of the ocean. In winter, this is great place to watch giant waves exploding against the rocks.
  • Westport Union Landing Beach (Westport): just south of the point where Highway One goes inland to skirt the Lost Coast, this is a very scenic spot, with easy access to the beach or the cliffs overlooking the ocean.

Best Activity Beaches

The town of Mendocino looms over Big River Beach

  • Big River State Beach (Mendocino) – bike/hike/horse trail, river, volleyball, dog walking, fires on beach (but only in the fire rings provided in summer months, and anywhere in the winter), shopping above the cliffs in the Village of Mendocino. If you follow the beach to the east of the bridge, you’ll come to the old haul road that runs for many miles through the park. You can walk or ride your mountain bike on a gradually climbing path along the river.
  • Fish Rock Beach (Anchor Bay) overnight camping in protected cove, dog walking, creek, tide pooling, small boat launch area, surfing, boogie boarding and skim boarding (in season), shopping/restaurants above the cliffs in Anchor Bay.
  • MacKerricher State Park (Fort Bragg) lake with (stocked) fishing and a walking trail that goes around the perimeter for birdwatching, harbor seal watching station, tide pooling, bike/walking trail along coastline and old haul road.

Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino CoastMendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, has been updated in 2017 as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

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