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This Dreamy Northern California Road Trip Takes You To 12 Secret Beaches

Are you ready to discover some hidden gems along the coastline of Northern California? 

Imagine walking along the sand of a secret beach that few other people know about.

In fact, some of these beaches are so unknown that you’ll likely have the entire thing to yourself!

Join us on this ultimate NorCal road trip that leads you to the most secluded, stunning beaches that are tucked away from the usual tourist spots. 

From the wild, rocky shores of the Lost Coast to the tranquil sands of hidden coves, this road trip takes you to many breathtaking beaches that only the locals know about. 

Let’s explore!

1. Point St. George Beach

Point St. George Beach is located right at the top of California, near Crescent City. 

This scenic beach is known for its rugged coastline and dramatic ocean views, making it a popular spot for photography and nature walks. 

It’s actually the 3rd westernmost point in the continental US!

Tjflex2 / Flickr

The beach is also famous for its tide pools where you can see a variety of marine life. 

Point St. George is also popular for birdwatching with many species stopping here during migration. 

The area has historical significance too as you can sometimes see the remains of shipwrecks during low tide.

2. Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach is a secluded spot located in Del Norte County near to Klamath.

It’s tucked away between dense forests and steep cliffs which makes it a peaceful atmosphere away from more crowded beaches. 

This beach is famous for its picturesque views and the large, colorful rocks scattered along the shore. 

mlhradio / Flickr

You can hike along the trails that lead down to the beach, explore tide pools and spot local wildlife. 

Hidden Beach is also a favorite spot due to its stunning sunsets and natural beauty.

3. Orick Fishing Access Beach

Tatnall Kennedy / Google Maps

Orick Fishing Access Beach is located in the small town of Orick. It’s technically part of the Redwood National Park.

This gray sand beach is a favorite spot for locals who enjoy fishing as it offers easy access to abundant fish populations. 

It’s not all about fishing though.

Murillo Pontual / Google Maps

The beach’s broad, sandy stretches are perfect for long walks and picnics with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

It’s also known for its wildlife as you can often see birds and sometimes seals along the coast. 

This beach provides a quiet, natural setting for anyone looking to relax or enjoy a day by the water.

4. Luffenholtz Beach

Luffenholtz Beach is located in Trinidad in a very scenic area.

This small, picturesque beach is known for its stunning ocean views and rocky coastline. 

It’s a popular spot for picnics and scenic walks with a wooden staircase leading down to the sand. 

jdegenhardt / Flickr

The beach is also famous for its tide pools where you can discover a variety of sea creatures during low tide. 

Additionally, Luffenholtz Beach is a great place for watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

5. Centerville Beach County Park

Iamblukas / Flickr

Centerville Beach County Park is located near the town of Ferndale in Humboldt County. 

This expansive beach is known for its long, wide stretches of sand that make it perfect for walking and horseback riding. 

People come here to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. 

lostintheredwoods / Flickr

The beach is also a historical site with a shipwreck from the early 20th century visible during low tide. 

Centerville Beach is a popular spot for picnics and watching the powerful ocean waves crash against the shore.

6. Mattole River Beach

Mattole River Beach is located at the mouth of the Mattole River in the remote area of Petrolia.

You’ll find it at the north end of the King Range National Conservation Area.

This beach is part of the Lost Coast which is known for its rugged and untouched natural beauty. 

Scrubhiker (USCdyer) / Flickr

It is a great spot for those looking to escape the crowded places and enjoy some quiet time. 

People come here for camping, fishing, beachcombing and hiking along the quiet, scenic trails. 

Mattole River Beach is also the starting point for the famous Lost Coast Trail which attracts brave adventurers from all over.

7. Shelter Cove Beach

Shelter Cove Beach is located in Whitethorn. You’ll find it at the Shelter Cove Boat Launching Facility.

This long dark sand beach is also part of the Lost Coast region which is known for its rugged and undeveloped landscapes. 

eeetthaannn / Flickr

It is a popular spot for fishing, tide pooling and enjoying the dramatic ocean views. 

The black sand beach, which was created from the eroded shale and sandstone, adds to the unique charm of the area. 

8. Jug Handle Beach

Jug Handle Beach is located on the Mendocino Coast in Casper near Fort Bragg.

You’ll find it within the Jug Handle State Natural Reserve which features the interesting Ecological Staircase Trail.

The park is a great place for hiking, with trails that go through terraces shaped by the ocean waves over thousands of years.

Images by John ‘K’ / Flickr

The beach itself is picturesque with many rocky coves and tide pools that are home to diverse marine life. 

Jug Handle Beach is also a great place for picnics and relaxing by the ocean. 

Look out for the rock arch nicknamed ‘jug handle’ due to its shape.

9. Cooks Beach

Cooks Beach is located near the town of Gualala. 

It’s a small, secluded beach known for its beautiful, golden sand and clear, calm waters. 

This beach is a hidden gem and is perfect for those looking to relax away from the more crowded spots. 

You can enjoy sunbathing, picnicking and exploring the tide pools filled with colorful sea life. 

Cooks Beach is also a popular place for locals who like to walk their dogs or simply enjoy the serene ocean views.

10. Goat Rock Beach

Goat Rock Beach is located near the mouth of the Russian River in Sonoma County. 

This beach is famous for its dramatic landscape, featuring large sea stacks and rugged cliffs. 

It’s a popular spot for photographers and nature lovers because of its scenic beauty and the colony of harbor seals that live on the sandy shores. 

People often come here to picnic, fish and watch the powerful waves crash against the rocks. 

Goat Rock Beach is also a key part of the Sonoma Coast State Park and offers numerous trails and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

It was even used as a filming location in the classic movie ‘The Goonies’.

11. McClures Beach

McClures Beach is located in Point Reyes National Seashore. 

This secluded beach is known for its rugged beauty, ancient rocky shores and dramatic coastal cliffs. 

The beach offers a peaceful escape with its quiet, sandy shores and crashing waves. 

empyreal / Flickr

It is a great spot for nature walks, wildlife spotting and photography, especially during sunset when the scenery becomes particularly breathtaking. 

However, visitors are advised not to go near or swim in the ocean as the currents here can be very strong.

12. Limantour Beach

Alejandro De La Cruz / Flickr

Limantour Beach is located in Point Reyes National Seashore, southwest of the town of Inverness. 

This long, sandy beach stretches on for 4 miles and is located between lush hillsides and the calm waters of Drakes Bay. 

Joey Rozier / Flickr

It’s known for its serene environment and is a favorite spot for birdwatching, hiking and picnicking. 

Gray whales can even sometimes be spotted from here in the spring.

Limantour Beach is also a great place to spot wildlife, including seals and various seabirds.

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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