Vestiges of China Beach

sandy beach and ocean waves with Golden Gate Bridge in background
China Beach with view of the Golden Gate (photo circa 2011)

Photo courtesy of Adrian & Mary Praetzellis


China Beach, a small, sandy cove between Lands End and Baker Beach in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood, is used today as a public recreation area that offers spectacular views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate. Local legend states that the beach was once used as a camp for Chinese fisherman who may have anchored their fishing boats in the harbor in the 1800s.

The State of California bought the beach in 1933 and officially named it James D. Phelan Memorial Beach State Park, named after San Francisco’s 25th mayor. In 1974 the state turned the beach over to the National Park Service, which recommended changing the name back to China Beach.

Although there is little evidence of Chinese habitation at the cove, Chinese Americans in 1982 erected a large monument that commemorates the Chinese fisherman who have worked in and around San Francisco Bay since Gold Rush times. To honor this history, the Park Service officially restored the name of the cove back to China Beach.


To learn more about the history of China Beach, explore the following narratives:

Anti-Chinese sentiment

Beach House at China Beach

Chinese Fisherman

China Beach Bivouac


To learn about other vestiges and stories of Lands End, please visit the main Vestiges of Lands End page.

To learn more about visiting this part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, please visit the Lands End Plan Your Visit page.

To learn more about the park's rich history, please visit the History & Culture page.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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