Beaches in the Bay Area - Black Sand Beach - Bean Hollow - Marshall Beach


Secluded Sands

The Bay Area's Indian summer is just kicking in. Cool down at these three seaside secrets.

Black Sand Beach Marin

Chocolate Sunday

Skip, dance, frolic. You may be inspired to do all three on your first visit to Black Sand Beach in Marin. This half-mile stretch of chocolate-colored coastline just northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge is roughly the size of Baker Beach—with only a fraction of the crowds. Walk ten minutes down the 253 wooden steps from the dirt parking lot, then spread a blanket behind one of the several rock outcroppings (a great windbreak on gusty days). Dip your toes in the refreshing 58-degree water when the afternoon heats up. Heads-up: Some folks here like to frolic bare-style, making the place a setting for many natural wonders.

Take Alexander Ave, the first exit north of the Golden Bridge. Make an immediate left and go under the freeway heading west. Follow Conzelman Rd. all the way up. Continue down past Hawk Hill; this is a steep and twisty road—buckle up! When the road levels, look for a dirt parking lot (with an "Upper Fisherman's" sign) and restroom on the left. (See map.) Signs say no dogs, but we've seen many.

Bean Hollow State Beach San Mateo Coast

Cool Bean

Unassuming, beautiful, and a favorite once discovered, Bean Hollow State Beach is the Maggie Gyllenhaal of the San Mateo Coast. Located 3 miles south of Pescadero, this succulent stretch of golden sand requires no hike-in, yet on most afternoons the place is wonderfully uncrowded. Spend the afternoon playing Frisbee, barbecuing, exploring the many tidepools, and playing fetch with Rover (Bean Hollow is one of the few dog-friendly beaches in the region). Our critics say: Two thumbs up!

TIP: For a little beach-hopping, a 1-mile (one-way) afternoon stroll on the bluff-top trail leads to Pebble Beach.

Bean Hollow State Beach is 17.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay and 3 miles south of Pescadero on Hwy 1. The trail to Pebble Beach goes north from Bean Hollow. Dog-friendly!

Marshalls Beach San Francisco Presidio

Golden Nugget

Where can you find the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge? Top spot in our book is tiny Marshall's Beach in San Francisco's Presidio. The recently renovated Batteries to Bluffs Trail (thank you Trails Forever) leads directly to this little nugget of sandy serenity. The path to get there is just 0.3 mile long, and the views from the beach elate, with the iconic arches appearing close enough to touch. Sandwiched between steep bluffs, the beach is refreshingly tranquil; the only sound you hear is the swash of the waves. As with many hidden beaches, the clothes-free crowd flocks to this spot; excepting the presence of Pasty Bare-Butts (hey, we're just saying…), the sights from here are mostly Golden.

Park at one of two entrances on Lincoln Blvd. in the Presidio. One is just south of Fort Scott, on the west side of the road near the "Coyote Crossing" sign, and the other is about .5 mile further down Lincoln Blvd. with a small "Batteries to Bluffs" sign on west side of the road. At either entrance, follow the Batteries to Bluffs Trail toward Marshall's Beach. (See map.) No dogs.

What's Your Bike Personality?

Mike's Bikes, the Bay Area's premier bike retailer, wants to help you find the answer to this summertime question: what's your bike personality?

This week's bike personality: The Savvy Commuter.

The bus: never on time and you can never get a seat. And the car: everyone knows gas prices and pollution are out of control. But wait…you've caught on to something: the bicycle. The freedom. You aren't afraid to put a little lube on the chain. A little urban exercise goes a long way, and you'll never have to worry about your muffler falling off. You'll even find a way to carry your morning cup of coffee in your water bottle, without spillovers. You can't wait to beat the car traffic in the morning commute. Yes, the bike: cleaner than the Prius and so much more fun than the bus.

Sound like you? You're "The Savvy Commuter." The Mike's Bikes ride for you: the Specialized Globe Sport. With this bike you can be fearless and free in the city. Its lightweight aluminum frame and 24 speeds give you the gumption to get up hills, around corners, and into your personal parking stall. The smooth, wide, puncture-resistant tires tackle broken pavement, allowing you to roll on with ease. Specialized's Globe Sport: carbon-neutral for over 100 years.

Mike's Bikes has six stores in Northern California: Sacramento (916-446-BIKE), San Rafael (415-454-3747), Sausalito (415-332-3200), Berkeley (510-549-8350), San Francisco (415-241-BIKE), and Palo Alto (650-858-7700).

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