Sonoma Coast State Park spans 17 miles from Bodega Head in Bodega Bay to Vista Trail approximately 4.0 miles north of the quiet seaside town of Jenner. More than a dozen access points can be found along the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), including those for North and South Salmon Creek Beach, Arched Rock Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, Portuguese Beach, Duncan’s Landing Beach Overlook, Wright’s Beach And Campground, Goat Rock State Beach, and Blind Beach, as well as Bodega Dunes Beach.
Bodega Dunes Beach and Campground sits about 1.0 mile north of Bodega Bay between Mussel Point and South Salmon Creek Beach. It boasts massive sand dunes, a large campground, and a public picnic area.
The primary reason for our quick weekend getaway to Bodega Bay was driving up to Bowling Ball Beach to see the rows of natural, round rock formations and working our way back down the coast, stopping at all the beaches we have never visited before. This stretch of Highway 1 — between Point Area and Bodega Bay — is one of the last sections of the California Coast we hadn’t yet explored.
Unlike most of the beaches we visited, you can’t see Bodega Dunes Beach from the road or even the parking lot. The view is obstructed by the tall sand dunes. This natural wall protects the campground, parking lot, and picnic area from the strong coastal winds.
We parked at the picnic area and grabbed our sweatshirts because the clouds and cold rolled for the afternoon. Near the restrooms, we found a sandy path through the dunes that lead to an elevated viewing platform with panoramic views of the long, sandy beach. A wooden boardwalk ramp with one switchback lead us down to the sand and surf.
Only a few people were still on the beach, and even though it was cold and windy, we still walked along the surf for a bit, taking in the sound of the waves crashing and the peacefulness of ocean. But only for a bit, because again, it was getting really cold! On a beautiful, sunny day, I can only image the crowds this beautiful beach would draw for afternoon picnics, reading, beachcombing, flying kites, fishing, walking, and relaxing.
Know Before You Go
- Bodega Dunes Beach is located at 2485 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, California 94923 in Sonoma County just 36 miles from Santa Rosa and 67 miles from San Francisco.
- The Bodega Dunes Campground, beach, and coastal dunes structure is part of the Sonoma Coast State Park. Download the state park brochure.
- Bodega Dunes day use fee is $8.00/vehicle, $7.00/vehicle for seniors. The day use fee applies to all state beaches for the day you visit.
- The day-use parking lot is at the end of a windy paved road just inside the park entrance gate.
- There are public flush toilets at the day use picnic area — but there is no view of the ocean from the picnic area as it is tucked behind the dunes.
- No dogs are allowed on the beach or the dunes to protect the western snowy plovers. They are allowed on leash in the campground.
- There are 99 campsites with hot showers, flush toilets, and a trailer sanitation dump station. Maximum trailer length is 31 feet, no hook-ups are available.
- As with most beaches along the Sonoma Coast, the shoreline here is dangerous. Strong rip currents, heavy surf, and sudden ground swells make this beach not one you want to swim in.