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Half Moon Bay Ritz-Carlton

Northern California’s rugged coastline offers a very different experience than Southern California. Cooler temperatures and remote locations cut down on crowds. But less tourism also means fewer options for lodging. So the accommodations included in this “best beach resorts” list very widely in quality & amenities. In some cases, we included bed and breakfasts, small inns and even a motel (it’s still a nice motel) when they were the best option for their particular area.

If you are only looking for luxe accommodations, there are still a few options, such as The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay (pictured above). But none of the options below will disappoint if your main goal is to enjoy the adventurous spirit of California’s North Coast.

Note: The following list of Northern California beach resorts is ordered north to south, starting in Smith River to the north and ending in Half Moon Bay to the south.

Howonquet Lodge, Smith River

Howonquet Lodge Located on the stunning Northern California Coast, 3 miles south of the Oregon border, the Howonquet Lodge is part of the Lucky 7 Casino. It features 71 rooms and suites that offer both Pacific Ocean and mountain views. Nearby beaches: Smith River County Park & Clifford Kamph Memorial Park.

Scopa at the Sea, Crescent City

Scopa at the SeaThis Cape Code style B&B overlooks Pebble Beach and offers offers three generous suites for guest lodging. A nearby beach house is also available for rent should you need extra space. Nearby beach: Pebble Beach

Historic Requa Inn, Klamath

Historic Requa Inn Built in 1914, the Requa Inn offers rooms and off site homes and has been featured in National Geographic Traveler and Sunset Magazine. Nearby beach: Klamath Beach

Lost Whale Bed & Breakfast Inn, Trinidad

Lost Whale Bed & Breakfast InnThis B&B sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean and is just minutes from Redwoods National Park. The inn includes three suites and your stay comes with breakfast, afternoon wine reception and homemade snacks. Nearby beach: Palmer’s Point

Oceanfront Inn, Shelter Cove

The Shelter Cove Oceanfront Inn

Sitting on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean in Northern California’s Lost Coast region, this inn offers rooms and suites, all of which have private balconies or decks with unobstructed views of the ocean. Nearby beaches: Mal Coombs Park & Shelter Cove Beach

Westport Hotel, Westport

IMG_8100 westport hotel (Custom) bryceThe Westport Hotel offers 6 stylishly decorated rooms that do not include TVs or room phones. Nearby beaches: Eddie White Beach, Pete’s Beach & Westport Beach

Beachcomber Motel, Fort Bragg

beachcomber 1This well rated motel is ideally located steps from the beach and Mackerricher State Park. Rooms are comfortable and spacious and include decks or patios. Nearby beaches: Pudding Creek Beach & Old Haul Road Beach.

Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino

Brewery Gulch Bed & Breakfast InnThis award winning B&B Inn sits above the rugged Mendocino coast and offers romantic cottage, suite and room options. Dining at the inn focuses on locally sourced ingredients. Nearby beach: Big River Beach

Stanford Inn by the Sea Eco Resort, Mendocino

Stanford Inn Eco ResortThis boutique resort is nestled on a hillside meadow overlooking Mendocino Bay.  Rooms and suites are paneled in pine and redwood. The Ravens’ Restaurant, has been nationally acclaimed for vegan cuisine. Nearby beach: Big River Beach

Little River Inn, Little River

Little River InnPerched above the ocean, the Little River Inn offers six rooms, a restaurant and even a 9 hole golf course. If booked up, consider the nearby Heritage House Resort & Spa. Nearby beach: Van Damme State Park

Elk Cove Inn & Spa, Elk

Elk Cove InnThis B&B is located on Highway One about 15 miles south of Mendocino. The inn offers 16 rooms and cottages, some of which are pet-friendly. There is also a European-style day spa located on site. Nearby beach: Greenwood State Beach

Coast Guard House Historic Inn, Point Arena

Coast Guard House Historic InnBuilt in 1901, the Coast Guard House has stood above the Mendocino coast for over a hundred years.  The inn features 6 rooms and cottages in total and was listed #3 by the New York Times in their “one of 52 places to go in 2014” article. Nearby beach: Arena Cove Beach

Sea Ranch Lodge, Gualala

Sea Ranch LodgeSitting above Sonoma’s rugged coastline, the Lodge is part of the Sea Ranch Community near Gualala. In addition to offering both rooms and vacation rental homes, the community also offers three recreation centers that include swimming pools, saunas and tennis courts. Nearby beach: Black Point Beach

Bodega Bay Lodge, Bodega Bay

bodegabaylodge3Perched above the Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the lodge comes wtih resort-like amenties including an oceanview pool, spa, restaurant, sauna, fitness center and concierge service. Rooms are well appointed and oversized. Nearby beach: Bird Walk Coastal Access & Doran Beach

Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel, Pacifica

Best Western Plus Lighthouse HotelThis Best Western “Plus” offers amazing ocean views and a great location that is close SFO airport., but feels worlds away. This hotel offers 97 well-appointed guest rooms, including 21 suites, many with ocean views. Nearby beach: Rockaway Beach

Seal Cove Inn, Moss Beach

Seal Cove Inn

This exclusive ten-room Half Moon Bay area hotel sites above Seal Cove Beach and is located near the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Rooms include high-end beds, fireplaces, gourmet breakfast and evening wine reception. Nearby beaches: Seal Cove BeachFitzgerald Marine Reserve Beach

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay Ritz-Carlton Set on a bluff overlooking the ocean, this upscale resort is located just a few miles south of Half Moon Bay and features a world-class links style golf course. Nearby beach: Pelican Point Beach

Costanoa Coastal Lodge & Camp, Pescadero

Costanoa Coastal Lodge And CampThis unique facility offers several lodging options including and tent bungalows. Also offered are onsite restaurant, store and spa. Nearby beach: Franklin Point Beach



Heading south? Then check out these lists:

Best Resorts of Central California 

Best Resorts of Southern California


Beaches on this list

  • Smith River County Park

    Smith River County Park Beach is located on the north bank of the Smith River just inside the river mouth. The park is simply a paved parking lot between homes […]

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  • Clifford Kamph Memorial Park

    Clifford Kamph Memorial Park is a large open meadow between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean near the Oregon state border. Within the open spaces on the bluff above the […]

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  • Pebble Beach

    Pebble Beach is a long string of connected coves in Crescent City in Northern California. The beach has numerous parking areas all along South and North Pebble Beach Drive between […]

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  • Klamath Beach

    Klamath Beach is on a huge sand spit on the south side of the Klamath River mouth in Del Norte County. This driftwood-covered spit protects the entrance to the river […]

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  • Palmer’s Point at Patrick’s Point State Park

    Palmer’s Point is the southern beach access at Patrick’s Point State Park north of the town of Trinidad. Government maps have labeled this beach as Cannonball Beach for years, but […]

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  • Mal Coombs Park

    Mal Coombs Park is located on the west side of the small resort town of Shelter Cove. There is a small rocky beach hidden away below the park. Many visitors […]

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  • Shelter Cove Beach

    Shelter Cove Beach is a long dark sand beach on the south side of the town of Shelter Cove. This is the beach at the Shelter Cove Boat Launching Facility. […]

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  • Eddie White Beach at Westport Headlands

    Westport Headlands Park is a nine acre public open-space right in the town of Westport along the Mendocino Coast. The beach below the park is locally known as Eddie White Beach. […]

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  • Pete’s Beach

    Westport-Union Landing State Beach has two public beaches separated by the private beach at the Westport Beach RV Park & Campground. The southern beach is a little-known California State Beach […]

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  • Westport Beach at Wages Creek

    Wages Creek Beach is a privately-owned beach located at the Westport Beach RV Park & Campground north of Westport. The official name of the beach is Wages Creek Beach but […]

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  • Pudding Creek Beach

    Pudding Creek Beach is next to an old wooden train trestle that now is a multi-use recreational trail bridge in MacKerricher State Park. Pudding Creek flows down onto the beach […]

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  • Old Haul Road Beach

    This popular beach in MacKerricher State Park doesn’t have an official name. Locals just call it the beach next to the Old Haul Road. This quarter-mile long sandy beach is […]

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  • Big River Beach

    Big River Beach is at the spot where Big River flows into the Pacific Ocean just south of the small town of Mendocino. The beach provides access for launching canoes […]

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  • Van Damme State Park

    Van Damme Beach State Park is located at the mouth of Little River in the small town of Little River. In addition to having an excellent beach in a semi-protected […]

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  • Greenwood State Beach

    Greenwood State Beach is located in the tiny town of Elk where Greenwood Creek flows into the ocean. Greenwood was the name of Elk back in the logging times of […]

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  • Arena Cove Beach

    Arena Cove Beach is the main beach in the Mendocino County town of Point Arena. The cove isn’t really known for its beach since there isn’t a lot of beach […]

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  • Black Point Beach

    Black Point Beach is a public beach located in the Sea Ranch community. This wide cove is just north of Black Point Landing in the south part of Sea Ranch. […]

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  • Bird Walk Coastal Access

    Bird Walk Coastal Access is a Sonoma County park with trails and wetlands right on Bodega Harbor. The park is mostly a saltwater marsh that has been revitalized by Sonoma […]

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  • Doran Beach

    Doran Beach in Doran Regional Park is located along the spit at the entrance to Bodega Harbor from Bodega Bay. Doran Spit is a great place to view the bay, […]

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  • Rockaway Beach

    Rockaway Beach is a popular brown colored sandy beach in Pacifica, CA. Right next to the beach are restaurants and hotels so you can spend the day or even a […]

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  • Seal Cove

    Seal Cove (also called Cypress Cove) is a secluded beach in Moss Beach, CA. The cove is within Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and is a real treat at low tide when […]

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  • James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

    James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is located at the west end of Lake Street in Moss Beach, CA. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a county park and marine protected area run […]

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  • Pelican Point Beach

    Pelican Point Beach is located near the end of Miramontes Point Road in Half Moon Bay, CA. The beach is nearby the Pelican Point RV Park and surrounded by the […]

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  • Franklin Point Beach

    Franklin Point Beach is a beautiful wide sandy beach in the northern portion of Ano Nuevo State Reserve. The trail to the beach follows a sandy path and a couple […]

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Related Hotels

  • Howonquet Lodge at Lucky 7 Casino

    Situated along the stunning coastline of extreme Northwest California, Howonquet Lodge is just south of the Oregon border, surrounded by natural beauty and charm. Designed to compliment its scenic surroundings, […]

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  • Scopa at the Sea

    The tiny Cape Cod-style Scopa at the Sea delivers a refreshing alternative, with a bed and breakfast overlooking scenic Pebble Beach. While the getaway only includes three guestrooms, each is […]

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  • Historic Requa Inn

    With more than a century of history, the Historic Requa Inn offers a quaint bed and breakfast in remote Klamath. Uniquely tucked away within a World Heritage Site, towering redwoods […]

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  • Lost Whale Bed & Breakfast Inn

    Only about a half hour up the coast from Eureka, the Northern California destination of the Lost Whale Inn invites seclusion and privacy, tucked away amidst some of the world’s […]

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  • Oceanfront Lodge

    A mere 30 feet or so away from the coastal edge, the Oceanfront Lodge of Crescent City truly lives up to its name. This unique hotel capitalizes on its sensational […]

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  • Westport Hotel

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  • Beachcomber Motel & Spa on the Beach

    With sweeping ocean views, the Beachcomber Motel & Spa welcomes guests with eco-friendly and pet-friendly accommodations. This Fort Bragg motel overlooks the state’s North Coast, with around 70 modern and […]

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  • Brewery Gulch Inn

    Rustic and romantic, the craftsman-style Brewery Gulch Inn offers up spectacular views overlooking the Mendocino Coast. Guests dine on organic, locally sourced selections, relax in a light-filled Great Room overlooking […]

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  • Stanford Inn by the Sea Eco Resort

    The Stanford Inn by the Sea presents an eco-friendly bed and breakfast, with a coveted location right along the stunning Mendocino Coast. From car charging stations to available mountain bikes, […]

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  • Little River Inn

    Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, right along the Mendocino Coast, Little River Inn guests enjoy an enticing location and charming accommodations. This multigenerational, family-owned resort supplies more than 60 Victorian-themed guestrooms […]

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  • Elk Cove Inn & Spa

    Elk Cove Inn and Spa is located in the small town of Elk on the coast of Mendocino County. The inn looks directly over Greenwood State Beach, one of our […]

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  • Coast Guard House Historic Inn

    With the elegance of a Cape Cod-style beach home, the century-old Coast Guard House Historic Inn supplies a peaceful location and quaint accommodations. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Mendocino […]

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  • Sea Ranch Lodge

    Sea Ranch Lodge sits high on the bluff in the Sea Ranch Community near the border of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. It offers 19 hotel rooms for those that don’t […]

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  • Bodega Bay Lodge

    Bodega Bay Lodge and Spa in Bodega is but one of many cozy, comfortable, elegant resorts where guests can snuggle up to a crackling fireplace in their private suites as […]

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  • Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel

    Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel offers one of the closest locations to the ocean waves in all of California. The crashing surf is meant to be enjoyed and that’s why […]

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  • Seal Cove Inn

    The peaceful and private Seal Cove Inn invites guests with the enjoyment of a boutique hotel, at home within one of northern California’s most picturesque destinations. High-end linens, European design […]

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  • Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

    Perched upon an ocean bluff, The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay presents some of the best sunsets in Northern California. This luxury golf resort boasts two championship courses, a half-dozen lighted […]

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  • Costanoa Coastal Lodge and Camp

    Costanoa Lodge is a eco-friendly glamping destination along the San Mateo Coast north of Davenport, CA. It’s located in a remote region with lots of sun and adventurous activities like […]

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