Believe it or not, there ARE beaches in California that remain secluded, unspoilt and crowd free, simply because they are more remote and further from civilisation than the main tourist filled beaches. These secret beaches are even better first thing in the morning – you might just have them completely to yourself!
Cowell Ranch Beach On Half Moon Bay
Cowell Ranch Beach On Half Moon Bay is one of the best beaches in California. It sits south of Half Moon Bay State Beach on California 1. This can only be reached from a small car park by a yellow gate which indicates the trailhead for Cowell Ranch. The beach is then reached via a small path. Cowell Ranch Beach faces west which is perfect to watch the sunset.
Alamere Falls Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore
Alamere Falls Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore is a hidden, crowd-free beach in California. Go here simply for the Alamere waterfall which cascades into the sands and ocean below bUT this beach requires a hike, 4 miles each way. Time it badly, at high tide and the beach disappears altogether. The path to the beach, accessed via Coast Trail from Palomarin Trailhead, is steep and climbs down to the shore next to the falls.
Bowling Ball Beach in Mendocino County, California
Bowling Ball Beach is a part of Schooner Gulch State Beach, in Mendocino County. Named after the spherical sandstone formations, which look kind of like bowling balls, Bowling Ball Beach can be found far up Hwy 1. If the tide level is just right, this expansive beach is well worth the trip.
Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California
Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur is definitely off the beaten path. Located just south of Big Sur Station on Highway 1, take the narrow Sycamore Canyon Road (with no signposts!) which winds down to the shore. There is a parking area at the bottom and then you can walk to the beach.
The focal point of the beach is Keyhole Rock which has a natural arch at the base and there are loads of rock pools to explore. The north end of the beach has magical purple sand which comes from manganese garnet rocks in the cliffs.
Hot Springs Creek Beach at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California
15 miles south of Pfeiffer Beach is Hot Springs Creek Beach is at the bottom of Hot Springs Canyon in the Big Sur coastal region (pictured above). Although the beach here isn’t overly impressive, the scenery surely is. Currently this entire property is owned by the non-profit Esalen Institute which operates a retreat here for self-learning and healing.
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