Being located right on the shores of Richardson Bay is one of the greatest aspects of Sausalito. It determined why European settlement was originally built here, shaped the maritime history of the city, and is obvious today in the marinas, boats, and floating homes that dominate the shoreline. But did you know that there are also beaches in Sausalito? Yes, you read that right: sandy beaches – right here on Richardson Bay.
Though the better beaches are perhaps on the Marin Headlands rather than in town, if you’re craving a walk on the sand, these Sausalito beaches will do the ticket. Read on to learn about each plus other waterfront parks and Marin Headlands beaches you can reach by car (and hike) too.
Schoonmaker Beach is Sausalito’s best beach – in fact it comes up as “Sausalito Beach” when you google it! This large stretch of sand is located within Schoonmaker Point Marina, and is technically private property. But, don’t worry: it’s open to the public all the time.
The area of sand and waterfront stretches a hundred or so yards from end to end, and the water that laps the shore is generally calm because of the marina’s docks that create safe harbor here. It’s a popular spot to put in your SUP or kayak, and you’ll regularly spot families and groups set up enjoying the sun and slice of SoCal-esque life right here in Sausalito.
Dunphy Park Beach
With the completion of the Dunphy Park overhaul, Sausalito residents are now treated to a new beach! It improves upon the natural, mixed rock/sand beach of old Dunphy Park and is well maintained (and possibly seeded with nicer sand…). It’s small but perfect for families with small kids who want a safe place to play without too much water access.
Swede’s Beach is the birthplace of Sausalito: it’s where European settlers first landed in the Marin Headlands in the 1830s. This is likely because it’s a very alluring spot: smooth, rocky sand in a safe cove of Richardson Bay.
Today, the beach is closely bordered by residences, and it may seem like it’s a private beach. In fact, Swede’s Beach is owned by the City of Sausalito and is open to the public; local residents or any signs indicating otherwise are not correct.
Tiffany Beach neighbors Swede’s Beach to the north, and is only exposed during low tide. It’s not as favorable of a spot as Swede’s Beach for this reason – and because it’s the point where the processed water from our local sewage pumping plan flows back into Richardson Bay. While the water is clean and safe, this definitely turns some people off from strolling barefoot here.
Public Shore near Bar Bocce
Many people don’t realize that the beach in front of Bar Bocce (facing Richardson Bay) is actually public shore. Admittedly, many patrons spill out from Bar Bocce onto the beach here, but you don’t have to be dining or drinking there to enjoy the beach.
This small sand beach fills up early on the weekends, so plan ahead if you want to enjoy it. There are some also rocky tide pools exposed further out when the tide is low.
Waterfront Parks in Sausalito
In addition to the above sand beaches, there are a number of waterfront parks in Sausalito. You can’t really call them beaches per se, as there’s nowhere to stroll along with your toes in the sand. But if you’re looking for a green space right on the water, these ones fit the bill.
Note: They are ordered from south to north.
Public Shore near the Ferry Terminal
The Public Shore area north of the Ferry Terminal is a nice waterfront park with a few large stones to break the water before the seawall. While you won’t often find people down on the rocks, it is a nice green space for a picnic, stroll, or to visit as part of the historic Sausalito self-guided walking tour.
Marina Plaza Harbor
Marina Plaza Harbor, located near the Modern Sailing School, is another small waterfront park in Sausalito. This green space is lovely but less popular due to being a bit off the beaten path – and hard to find if you don’t know the area.
Clipper Yacht Harbor
There’s a spit of land at Clipper Yacht Harbor that sticks out into Richardson Bay between sections of the marina; a nice paved path circuits the area, and there’s a bit of grass and a few benches. It’s certainly not well-landscaped or fancy, but like Marina Plaza, it’s well off the tourist track and a nice stroll on a sunny day when you want to be near the water.
Waldo Point Green Space
Located in the heart of Waldo Point, there’s a lovely small green space with a walkway out over the water that gives panoramic views of the floating homes in this Sausalito neighborhood. You’ll often see people strolling with their dogs here, and it’s a nice area to visit if you’ve never seen the floating homes and want to admire a few.
Richardson Bay/Kappas Yacht Harbor
Similar to the Clipper Yacht Harbor spit/jetty, there’s a more rugged one at the end of Waldo Point between Richardson Bay and Kappas Yacht Harbors. This is definitely off the main tourist track in Sausalito and doesn’t offer much by way of path or benches to enjoy the view – but it is a sliver of waterfront green space worth noting.
Beaches near Sausalito in the Marin Headlands
Last, but certainly not least, there are a few more beaches near Sausalito worth mentioning. These beaches are all located on the Pacific Coast in the Marin Headlands. As you’d expect, they rival the sandy stretches of Ocean Beach on the San Francisco Peninsula – but are way less crowded. You will need a car – and in some cases, a good pair of hiking shoes – to reach them though!
If you want privacy and a heck of a view, Kirby Cove is the Sausalito-area beach for you. However, you will have to pay for it, by making the 3-mile out-and-back hike (1.5 each way) to reach this beach with epic Golden Gate views.
Black Sands Beach
Like Kirby Cove, it’s a hike to Black Sands Beach, which is a little further west along the southern part of the Marin Headlands. It’s only 0.5 miles each way along Upper Fishermans Trail to Black Sands Beach. As the name suggests, this beach has a darker colored sand due to the geology and wave action of the area.
Compared to other beaches on this list, Rodeo Beach is much easier to visit: you can reach Rodeo Beach by passing through the Baker-Barry Tunnel and following Bunker Road to Mitchell Road and on to the parking area. Rodeo Beach is a great stretch of sand where you can feel the wind and waves whip up off the Pacific. There are a few good hiking trails in the area too.
Tennessee Valley Beach
The smallest and most remote beach on this list, Tennessee Valley Beach is a 3.4 mile out-and-back hike from the trailhead on the Marin Headlands. However, the trail is so well maintained that it’s actually popular with people of all abilities and ages. It’s especially popular – some would say crowded – at sunset on weekends.
Finally, Muir Beach is perhaps the most popular, and most visited, of the Marin Headlands beaches. But, it’s also the nicest, further up the coast near the small community of the same name. Like Rodeo Beach, you can stroll along Muir Beach with its expansive Pacific Views. There are also a few good hiking trails to the south if you want to stretch your legs more and escape the crowds.
Which of these beaches in Sausalito do you want to visit – or which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!