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Although Southern California beaches tend to have more consistent warm weather, the beaches on the north side can definitely hold their own. While the crowds tend to flock to more popular places like the beaches of Monterey and Half Moon Bay, there are also plenty of lesser known beaches in the area that may be your best bet if you’re hoping for a little more seclusion. They may not offer total privacy, but you’ll have a much better chance to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Here are a few of our favorite hidden beaches in Northern California:

Gray Whale Cove State Beach

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Located in San Mateo County about 20 miles south of San Francisco, Gray Whale Cove is a beautiful place that has a sheltered beach.

Scott Creek Beach

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Davenport (north of Santa Cruz) is where you’ll find Scott Creek Beach. If you’re seeking solitude, this might be your best bet. Most people set up their blankets and chairs on the beach between the creeks, but you’re welcome to head north or south up and down the coastline.

Shell Beach

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Shell Beach is a fisherman’s paradise. It’s a narrow and rocky strip in Sonoma County outside of the small town of Jenner. You don’t have to have a fishing pole to love this place. 

Heart’s Desire Beach

Photo: Marilyn M, Flickr

You’ll find Heart’s Desire Beach tucked away in Tomales Bay State Park. It’s a wonderful place to spend a day thanks to the stunning views, picnic tables, BBQ areas and outdoor showers. Several even quieter beaches in this park are just a short hike away.

Muir Beach

Muir Beach is located about 16 miles northwest of San Francisco. It’s not as popular as some of its neighbors, but it’s definitely just as beautiful.

College Cove Beach

Humboldt County’s College Cove Beach is a perfect place to just sit and relax and watch the mild waves roll in. Some people consider this area to be clothing optional, but the Parks and Rec Department doesn’t approve.

Point St. George Beach

This beach is located outside Crescent City, meaning it’s about as north as you can get. In fact, you can see parts of Oregon from your spot on the sand, not to mention the Siskiyou Mountains.


Beaches on this list

  • Gray Whale Cove State Beach

    Gray Whale Cove State Beach is in an area of steep cliff erosion between Pacifica and Montara called the “Devil’s Slide.” The beach itself is safe, but the old highway […]

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  • Scott Creek Beach

    Scott Creek Beach is one of the nicest beaches in the Davenport area north of Santa Cruz. The beach is right next to Highway 1 as it dips into the […]

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  • Shell Beach

    Shell Beach is is a narrow rocky beach in Sonoma County just south of the Russian River and the small town of Jenner. It requires a short hike down a […]

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  • Hearts Desire Beach at Tomales Bay State Park

    Heart’s Desire Beach is a family-friendly spot in Tomales Bay State Park. It has a grass area to spread out on and picnic tables as well to make spending a […]

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  • Muir Beach

    Muir Beach (the beach) is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and located in the small town of Muir Beach, California. Redwood Creek flows down to the ocean here, […]

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  • College Cove

    College Cove Beach is in the north cove of Trinidad State Beach in the small town of Trinidad. College Cove has a more secluded feel than the main state beach […]

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  • Point St. George Beach

    Point St. George is a prominent rocky point about three miles north of Crescent City. The Point is where the St. George Reef Lighthouse keepers lived when they were ashore […]

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