Kayaking around Point Reyes National Seashore

The most popular area for kayaking at Point Reyes National Seashore is on Tomales Bay. Tomales Bay is a 15-mile long, 6780-acre tidal water body located in rural west Marin County, California. It is the largest unspoiled coastal embayment on the coast of California. The bay is bounded largely on the west by the Point Reyes National Seashore. Adjacent communities include Pt. Reyes Station, Inverness, Tomales, Marshall, and Dillon Beach in the north where Tomales Bay meets Bodega Bay.

Kayaking is also permitted on Drakes Estero and Limantour Estero from July 1 through February 28. To protect harbor seals from disturbance during the most crucial part of the pupping season, from March 1 through June 30 the National Park Service closes Drakes Estero and Limantour Estero to boating.

Tomales Bay Launches

MILLER COUNTY PARK (415) 499-6387
Also known as Nick’s Cove. It is located on the east side of Tomales Bay off Highway 1, north of the town of Marshall. This Marin County park has a public boat launch with cement grade into the water, restrooms, and a pier. There is a day use fee and overnight use fee. Overnight parking is in the upper lot, to the right as you pull in.

TOMALES BAY STATE PARK (415) 669-1140
The state park provides two access areas to Tomales Bay, Millerton Point and Hearts Desire Beach.

Millerton Point is on the east side of Tomales Bay, three miles north of Point Reyes Station. No overnight parking is permitted. There is a pit toilet and you must carry your boat along a short trail approximately 100 yards to the water. It is very shallow and is best used at high tides.

Hearts Desire Beach is on the west side of Tomales Bay off Pierce Point Road. It is a day-use area (no overnight parking) and there is a day-use fee. You must carry your boat approximately 100 yards across a sandy beach. Water and restrooms are available at the beach. Orange floats are placed in the water in summer to indicate the swimming area. Boaters may land to the south of the orange floats. Motorized vessels are prohibited within 100′ of the swim area markers.

TOMALES BAY RESORT (415) 669-1389
The Resort and 62-boat marina are located on the west side of the bay. It is on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, one mile north of Inverness. 

LAWSON’S LANDING (707) 878-2443
The campground and boat launch are located in Dillon Beach with direct access to Tomales Bay. There is gas, dump station, and boat rentals. Restrooms and water available. There is a day-use and overnight fee charged.

DAY USE AREAS

Hog Island
The island is in the northern section of Tomales Bay across from Whites Gulch on the west side and Nicks Cove on the east side. It is a critical wildlife habitat, a favorite haul-out for seals and roosting place for brown pelicans. The island is open on the west side only for day use.

Indian Beach
This beach is north of Hearts Desire and has a redwood kotca, a traditional Coast Miwok sleeping shelter on it. A pit toilet is available for use. No overnight use or beach fires.

RESOURCES

Point Reyes Outdoors (415) 663-8192
Blue Waters Kayaking (415) 669-2600

Swimming & Camping

There is a fee and permit system for overnight camping on the west side beaches of Tomales Bay (within Point Reyes National Seashore). Overnight beach camping is not permitted anywhere else on Tomales Bay or within Point Reyes National Seashore.

Contact the National Seashore reservation office at (415) 663-8054 for reservations and to place your name on the mailing list for information.

Beach fire permits are required and may be obtained free at park visitor centers. No overnight parking for boat-in campers is allowed in Point Reyes National Seashore or Tomales Bay State Park.

Some of the Tomales Bay beaches that are open for overnight camping to those who have a current and valid permit are (listed from south to north):

Kilkenny Beach

Marshall Beach
On the west side of Tomales Bay across from the town of Marshall. Pit toilets are available, no water.

Tomales Beach
Look for the pit toilet!

Fruit Tree Beach

Blue Gum Beach
There will be seasonal closures on this beach to protect harbor seal pupping. Check with the Seashore reservation office.

Avalis Beach
The northernmost westside beach of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Watch especially for tides and currents in this area. No restrooms or water.

Conservation

Recreational use of Tomales Bay has grown in recent years especially for camping, boating, and wildlife watching. The National Park Service at Point Reyes is concerned about the effects of the growth in recreational use.

The Seashore faces the challenge of not only preserving the pristine shorelines of Tomales Bay and assisting in protecting clean water, but also providing recreational opportunities for the public. Visitor use of national parklands must always be weighed against the responsibility to maintain natural and cultural resources for succeeding generations.

As such, personal water craft (PWC) such as a Jetski or Waverunner are not permitted on Tomales Bay.

Please read A Guide to Low-Impact Boat Camping.

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