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Explore The Surreal Beach In California Where Rocks Look Like Bowling Balls!

Imagine walking along a secluded shoreline where the waves gently lap against rows of perfectly rounded stones that look just like bowling balls.

This isn’t a scene from a fantasy movie but a real place hidden along the coast of California. 

As you stroll down the beach, you’ll notice these mysterious rocks that are scattered across the sand like giant marbles left behind by a huge giant. 

John Fowler / Flickr

The sight is both mesmerizing and surreal, making you feel like you’ve stepped into another world. 

In this post, we’re revealing exactly where you can find this hidden gem that looks like it belongs in a fairy tale!

About

Welcome to Bowling Ball Beach, a hidden gem located along the Mendocino County coastline in California, just a 3-hour drive north of San Francisco.

This extraordinary beach is part of Schooner Gulch State Beach which is located just about three miles south of Point Arena on Highway 1. 

The beach gets its name from the fascinating geological formations that resemble giant bowling balls scattered along the shore.

At low tide, the beach reveals its secret: rows of large, spherical rocks called concretions. 

These “bowling balls” are formed from sandstone and have been shaped over millions of years by natural geological processes. 

The softer mudstone that once surrounded them has eroded away, leaving these tough, round stones behind. 

They create an almost otherworldly landscape that looks like it belongs in a fantasy novel!

The concretions at Bowling Ball Beach are typically about 2 to 3 feet in diameter and are arranged in neat rows parallel to the coastline. 

This unique arrangement has sparked various speculations and myths among visitors over the years.

Many people claim they are dinosaur eggs or even alien artifacts!

However, the true explanation lies in the fascinating world of geology. 

The concretions have formed around organic objects such as shells or leaves, and as the beach aged, they grew in size while coastal erosion slowly revealed them.

Bowling Ball Beach is not just a geological wonder, it’s also a fantastic spot for a family outing. 

The large, round rocks are perfect for climbing and exploring but they can be slippery when the rocks are wet so it’s important to be careful. 

The beach is also a great place for an impromptu science lesson as the concretions provide an incredible example of geological processes in action. 

Additionally, the beach is home to various marine life forms which makes it an excellent spot for tidepooling.

So if you’re looking for a unique destination along the California coast then Bowling Ball Beach is the perfect place to explore the wonders of nature and enjoy a day of adventure.

What To Expect

When you visit Bowling Ball Beach, get ready for an unforgettable experience.

The best time to visit the beach is during low tide. 

This is when the beach reveals its hidden treasure: rows of spherical rocks that look just like giant bowling balls. 

Albert de Bruijn / Flickr

Make sure to check the local tide charts before you go so you can plan your visit at the perfect time.

At low tide, the beach also becomes a fantastic spot for tidepooling. 

You can explore the shallow pools left behind by the receding tide and discover a variety of marine life including crabs, sea anemones and small fish. 

LunchWithaLens / Flickr

It’s like having a mini aquarium right at your feet!

The beach itself is a beautiful stretch of coastline with dramatic cliffs and the vast Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. 

The sight of the perfectly round rocks lined up along the shore is truly mesmerizing and makes for some incredible photo opportunities. 

LunchWithaLens / Flickr

Bowling Ball Beach is a bit off the beaten path so it’s often less crowded than other popular beaches. 

This means you can enjoy a peaceful and serene environment without the crowds of other California beaches.

It’s perfect for a relaxing day out!

LunchWithaLens / Flickr

Sit back and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves, breathe in the fresh sea air and let the natural beauty of the beach wash over you.

Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife during your visit. 

Seals can sometimes be seen swimming near the shore and various seabirds often make an appearance. 

LunchWithaLens / Flickr

The beach’s natural setting provides a great opportunity to observe these creatures in their natural habitat.

Whether you’re visiting with family, friends or on your own, Bowling Ball Beach offers something for everyone. 

Kids love climbing on the giant rocks and exploring the tide pools, while adults often enjoy the tranquil setting and the unique geological features.

How To Get There

Reaching Bowling Ball Beach is an adventure in itself but it’s definitely worth the effort! 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you find this hidden gem.

By Car

Bowling Ball Beach is located in Mendocino County, about three miles south of Point Arena on Highway 1. 

Here’s how to get there:

1. Drive along Highway 1

Whether you’re coming from the north or south, you’ll be driving along the scenic Highway 1. 

Keep an eye out for Schooner Gulch Road which is where you’ll need to turn.

2. Look for the Parking Area

There is a small parking area on the west side of Highway 1, right across from Schooner Gulch Road. 

The parking area is easy to miss so drive slowly as you approach and look for other parked cars if there’s no clear signage.

Trailheads

From the parking area, you have two trail options:

Northern Trail

This trailhead is directly across from Schooner Gulch Road and leads you to Bowling Ball Beach. 

mlhradio / Flickr

The trail starts at a bluff and winds through tall grasses and shrubs before descending to the beach. 

Be prepared for a bit of a scramble at the end as the stairs don’t go all the way down to the beach.

Southern Trail

This trailhead leads to Schooner Gulch Beach, the main beach area. 

While it’s a lovely spot, it’s not where you’ll find the famous “bowling balls.” 

Stick to the northern trail if you want to see the unique rock formations.

Important Tips

Check the Tide

The “bowling balls” are best viewed at low tide. 

Make sure to check local tide charts before you go to ensure you visit at the right time.

Footwear

Wear sturdy shoes as the trail can be slippery and uneven, especially near the end where you might need to climb over driftwood and rocks.

Safety

Be cautious when parking and crossing the highway as it can be a bit tricky with traffic.

Know Before You Go

Before heading out to Bowling Ball Beach, here are some key details to ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable visit.

Parking

The parking area is located along Highway 1, right across from Schooner Gulch Road.

Free parking is available but spaces are limited so it’s a good idea to arrive early, especially on weekends and holidays.

Fees

There is no entry fee to visit Bowling Ball Beach. 

It’s completely free to enjoy this natural wonder!

Opening Times

The beach is open from sunrise to sunset. 

Plan your visit accordingly to make the most of your time there.

Pets

Dogs are allowed on the beach but must be kept on a leash at all times.

Facilities

There are portable toilets available near the parking area. 

However, there are no restrooms directly on the beach so plan accordingly.

Safety Tips

CaptSpaulding / Flickr

The trail to Bowling Ball Beach can be steep and slippery, especially near the end where erosion has affected the stairs. 

Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for a bit of a scramble.

Additionally, the waves and currents can be strong so swimming and wading are not recommended at this beach.

Always keep an eye on the ocean and never turn your back on the waves.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy all that Bowling Ball Beach has to offer. 

Have a great trip!


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Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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