Bay Area beaches can get insanely crowded during the summer months. The sea is practically blotted out by gigantic umbrellas, hefty coolers, and those obnoxious beach tents. If all you desire on a sunny day is sand between your toes and a little peace by the ocean, rows and rows of clamoring crowds can make that more than a little difficult. Fear not, there are still a few seashore secrets where solitude is nearly guaranteed. Here are five under the radar beaches you can escape to this summer.
GRAY WHALE COVE STATE BEACH This sheltered cove along Hwy 1 is surrounded by cliffs that act as a natural buffer, preventing hordes of people from getting to it. The beach is clean, peaceful, and particularly gorgeous at sunset. It’s not at all uncommon to spot a few gray whales swimming quite near the shore, either. To access it, park across the road from the long staircase (about 200 steps) that leads down to this sandy paradise.
BEAN HOLLOW STATE BEACH The waves are large and the current can be extremely strong so going in above your knees here isn’t a good idea. However, if you’re looking for a spectacular stretch of coast, excellent tide pooling, stunning rock formations, and legitimate solitude, Bean Hollow definitely fits the bill! The beach also has a self-guided two-mile nature trail along the coast. Bean Hollow is about 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay and the sign is easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled.
BLACK SANDS BEACH Before you descend the winding trail of wooden steps to Black Sands, you should know that this beach is clothing optional, so consider yourself properly warned. Part of what makes this bit of seashore so secluded is that when the tide is up, there’s barely any beach left at all. One must be patient and wait for low tide in order to frolic freely along its dark sand shores. The views to be had here can’t be beat—the Point Bonita Lighthouse is visible on a clear day. To get here, drive into the Recreation Area on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. Keep driving for a bit until you see a lot that has a sign for the Upper Fisherman’s Trailhead.
PISTACHIO BEACH Chances are no one you know has ever even heard of this beach, making it a true hidden gem. Walk along the water here completely uninterrupted by other people. It’s all waves, birds, and the occasional sunbathing seal. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse is visible to the south and just above the beach sits a quaint little farm with a few cows grazing lazily. To get here, park along Hwy 1 just north of the Pigeon Point Road loop northern entrance.
STEEP RAVINE BEACH Because of the recent storm damage, getting to Steep Ravine Beach requires a bit of a detour, but it’s well worth it! This small, secluded beach sits at the bottom of a steep canyon and has some of the most breathtaking scenery on this list. The hike down is challenging, but you’ll be all smiles as you take in the views that surround you. At low tide, a hot spring seeps up into the sand providing a truly magical experience only Mother Nature could concoct.