Point Reyes National Seashore contains approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) of shoreline, much of which park visitors may safely explore. Some beaches are rocky and good for tidepooling, while other beaches are covered by vast expanses of sand and great for a walk..
Visitors are responsible for knowing park rules and regulations. Those not adhering to the regulations will be cited.
Please note that not all beaches are suitable for swimming or wading, especially for young children. The ocean water may be as low as 10°C (50°F), so those without wetsuits rarely stay in the water for long. Hypothermia, sneaker waves, and rip currents are just a few of the hazards of which visitors should be aware. Please visit our Safety Issues Associated with Beaches page for more information. Please visit our Current Conditions page to be advised of any special weather statements.
Beach Closures and Water Quality
Beaches may be closed at various times of the year to better protect northern elephant seals and harbor seals during their pupping seasons, western snowy plovers while they are nesting, or for visitor safety.
Marin County Environmental Health Services monitors a number of ocean, bay and freshwater sites within Point Reyes National Seashore and the surrounding area. These sites are sampled once a week from April 1 through October 31 to determine if a beach meets the California water quality standards for recreational water contact. EHS works cooperatively with the NPS to collect water samples and post advisory signage as needed at the designated sampling sites. For more information, visit the EHS's Marin County Ocean and Bay Water Quality Testing Program page or their Beach Water Quality Information page.
Beaches and rivers across California often have high-risk water quality following large winter rain events. While the park strives continually to improve water quality, please note that in their annual beach report card, Heal the Bay recommends swimmers and boaters "avoid contact with ocean water around storm drains and river outlets, and avoid all ocean contact for at least three days following a significant rain event." For more information visit Heal the Bay’s website. Please visit our Current Conditions page to learn about any current beach closures or water quality concerns in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Rules and Regulations
While most beach-goers follow park rules and regulations and Leave No Trace principles, every now and then, park staff encounter someone who isn't taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. Some of the park regulations commonly violated by beach-goers include:
Possession of a glass container within fifteen meters (fifty feet) of any riverbank, lakeshore, or beach, or on the water, or in a vessel is prohibited. This restriction is necessary to reduce the amount of injurious trash in the park and for the protection of visitors who frequent these areas in bare feet.
Almost everything one finds at Point Reyes' beaches is protected by law, including shells, rocks, fossils, flowers, and artifacts.
Do not chase or feed the gulls (or any other birds) and keep your distance from seals and sea lions.
Launching, landing, or operating a remotely operated aircraft (aka "remotely piloted aircraft," "unmanned aircraft," or "drone") from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Point Reyes National Seashore is prohibited.
Metal-detectors are prohibited throughout the National Seashore.
Pets are permitted on certain sections of Kehoe, Limantour, and Point Reyes Beach (aka, Great Beach) and must be restrained by a 1.8-meter (6-foot) leash at all times. Visit our Pets page for more information.
Camping on beaches is prohibited, with the exception of some beaches on the west side of Tomales Bay. Visit our Backcountry Camping page for more information.
Within the National Seashore, visitors may have wood fires only on park beaches if a Beach Fire Permit has been obtained in advance. Visit our Beach Fires page for more information.
Fishing is permitted along most park beaches, but not along Drakes Beach or the western end of Limantour Beach. Visit our Fishing page for more information.
Please visit our Park Regulations page to familiarize yourself with some of the other rules pertaining to visiting the park.
If you observe violations of any of the above regulations in Point Reyes National Seashore, please call park dispatch at 415-464-5170 or contact staff at the nearest Visitor Center as soon as possible. If you observe drone use in other National Park Service areas or if you find photographs or videos online or elsewhere that were illegally taken within National Park Service areas from drones, you can report the violation to the National Park Service tip line at 888-653-0009 or by email.
Although it is not a regulation, the following request is in line with Leave No Trace principles: if you build any driftwood structures during your visit, take them down before leaving the beach so that future visitors arriving at the beach might have the chance of feeling as if they are the first persons to set foot on the beach.
Help Keep Your Beaches Clean
The beaches of Point Reyes are some of California's cleanest. Please help protect marine life and keep your park's beaches clean by disposing of trash and recycling in the appropriate receptacles located at beach and trailhead parking lots. You can also help clean up the beaches by picking up marine debris and trash on California Coastal Cleanup Day on the third Saturday of September, or any day you visit a beach.
We hope that your visit to these beaches is safe and enjoyable.
Sturgeon Carcass Reporting
Last updated: March 25, 2023