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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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Just outside the town of 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, but you don’t have to have a fishing pole to love this place. It’s a narrow and rocky strip in Sonoma County outside of the small town of Jenner

Heart’s Desire Beach

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

The beach at Point St George is located just outside Crescent City and about as far north as you can get in our state. In fact, you can see parts of Oregon from your spot on the sand, not to mention the Siskiyou Mountains. It’s a secluded place with gradually sloping sand and miles of remote beach to walk.