Via readers share their favorite spots in Hawaii, Oregon, and California for enjoying the surf and avoiding the crowds.
McCLURES BEACH Point Reyes National Seashore, Calif. "Near the tip of Tomales Point, down a gentle path lined with wildflowers, is a remote beach dotted with driftwood," writes Harold Miller of Stagecoach, Nev. "Cattle graze on the hills above the trail and sometimes an elk will bugle—a high and lonesome sound you'll find hard to forget." nps.gov/pore.
ENDERTS BEACH Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Crescent City, Calif. "What a jewel," says Dana Marble of Coarsegold, Calif. "It's not far off Highway 101 but is generally peaceful and quiet, except for the ocean's sounds. You'll find miles of sand loaded with driftwood of all sizes and shapes." nps.gov/redw.
FERN GROTTO BEACH Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, Calif. "My mother's family pioneered artichoke and brussels sprout growing on Santa Cruz's north coast," writes Joe Ghio of Santa Cruz. "Of three beaches near the farm there, my favorite was Fern Grotto. There's a cave in the cliff with ferns and dripping water—the grotto—and the waves of the Pacific crashing in the background. It was a religious experience to be there alone on foggy days." parks.ca.gov/?page_id=549.
GOAT ROCK BEACH Sonoma Coast State Park, Jenner, Calif. "Not totally secluded," writes Alfred Spielmann of Fremont, Calif. "But the rolling dunes afford many secluded spots and natural barriers to sea breezes." parks.ca.gov.
MOONSTONE BEACH Cambria, Calif. "I love the quietness here," says Robin McGehee of Fresno, Calif. "There's not just sand but also moonstone agates and tide pools that let us explore sea life. Sometimes we'll spot sea lions sunbathing or hear them sending up a tune." seecambria.com.
PINNACLE GULCH BEACH Bodega Bay, Calif. "Magical," says Kathie Morgan of Santa Rosa, Calif. "At the end of a half-mile path bordered with wildflowers, a vista opens onto a tiny beach on Bodega Bay's outer shore. There are tide pools and a rock outcropping." sonoma-county.org/parks/pk_pingl.htm.
PUNALUU BEACH Naalehu, Hawaii. "You won't find sunbathers on the sand or surfers riding the waves," says Emmalynne Hu of Menlo Park, Calif., "but if you're lucky you'll see hawksbill turtles lounging on the black sand or bobbing through the water." gohawaii.com.
"ROSS'S COVE" BEACH Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach, Calif. "The most amazing little-known beach," says Simone Lang of Half Moon Bay, Calif. "The sand is coarse and colorful, the waves are large, and the rocks at the water's edge are unusual. You can't see any civilization." fitzgeraldreserve.org.
AHALANUI PARK Pualaa County, Hawaii. "Delightful," promises Sharon Wong of San Mateo, Calif. "A volcanic hot spring is cooled by ocean water in a natural pond here. There's even a shallow pool for children, where you can take a good look at tiny fish swimming in the 90-degree water." bigisland.org/parks/319/ahalanui-park.
BATTLE ROCK BEACH Port Orford, Ore. "Neglected, if not exactly secluded," writes Richard Dillon of Mill Valley, Calif. "This sandy beach on the rugged Oregon coast is long and curving, perfect for strolling. At one end is a rock the size of a small island or a whale that has run aground. In its lee, the tides gather the driftwood we like to collect and of course eventually discard." enjoyportorford.com/battlerockpark.html.
KELLEY POINT PARK Portland. "From the beach at the peninsula's tip you can see the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers and view the huge ships that travel up and down," says Kate Bennett of Portland, Ore. portlandonline.com/parks.
This article was first published in July 2008 and updated in April 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.