Bodega Bay and Gualala: Northern California Getaways

Northern California has some gorgeous beaches. The sea up north is wild and untamed, as opposed to the quieter more tropical Southern California area. My favorite spots are from Bodega Bay on north up Highway 1 to Anchor Bay and Gualala.

Arriving in Bodega Bay, after travelling miles through green lush farmland and isolated ranches is a real treat. As you turn the last bend, that takes you the 5 more miles into Bodega Bay, the air cools, the scent of the sea grows stronger, and you suddenly glimpse the ocean between green velvet hills crowned by tall cypress.

Our favorite place to stay in Bodega Bay is the Inn At The Tides. We call this our great good place. The weathered buildings, and welcoming lobby, as you climb the rise to the office, instantly begin de-stressing your overloaded mind. We try and book Pelican, our favorite room. With its charming fireplace, and tiny patio where we sit and watch cows munch contentedly on sweet grasses, or watch the sunset over the Bay, always eases us into a tranquil more relaxed state of mind. The huge hot tub, not far from our front door is rarely crowded and works wonders on aching muscles. The swimming pool, which is half indoor, half outdoor is a treat for working off the weeks frustrations, and perfect too for early risers used to exercising.

The rooms come with plenty of logs, robes, a jacuzzi tub, coffee maker, and a daily newspaper delivered to your door. You can order in with room service, or stroll across the street to the Tides Wharf Restaurant. The menu offers up seafood delightfully and simply prepared, along with wonderful salads and piping hot bread. After dinner, a leisurely stroll to various lookout points where you can watch tired fishermen slowly wending their way back to harbor. If you’re lucky, you will see a dolphin or whale leaping for joy in the dying suns soft light.

The Tides offers a free breakfast buffet, with fresh squeezed juices, rolls, fruits, yogurts and eggs. You may also order breakfast from the menu, which is extensive and delicious. From airy Belgian waffles to creative omelettes or Eggs Benedict., served in a light and airy room, the relaxed ambience enhances your sense of well being.

After breakfast we stop at the local bait shop / grocery store, and gather a basket of treats, then head out to our favorite beach-Goat Rock. This is one of the most unique beaches on our entire coast line. A long winding road leads to the parking area of Goat Rock State Beach. It gets its name from two rock formations out in the ocean that look like goats heads. After a semi-steep climb, you are facing a brand new world. For you’re on top of tall dunes that are serving to separate the Pacific Ocean from the Russian River. It is awesome to stand and on your left see the magnificent breakers rolling in to boom sudsily in the shore, and on your right, see the quiet ,deep green waters of the Russian River.

On the ocean side of the dunes, rangers lead tours over to the seal and sea lion colony. You can watch them grumbling, playing and once in awhile fighting over territory or a female. The long sandy beach is filled with families, the occasional horseback riders, artists and photographers trying to capture the sheer majestic beauty of this place. If it gets too windy, simply climb the dune and go down to the rivers edge, spread your blankets and drink in the sights of salmon jumping and the play of light on the warm green water.

Next morning, after breakfast we head north to Anchor Bay. The route up is breathtaking. The wild crashing sea, the colors all blended, dark green spotted here and there with huge bubbles of crystalline blue, never fail to enchant people. The Breakers Inn, which offers rooms with balconies right over the water, is lovely. Arriving late, we unpack, and go visit anyone of the homey local eateries, and take a slow walk home. Light a fire, slip into the giant jacuzzi for two, and then wrapped in soft robes and blankets, sit out on the balcony watching the stars. Then sink into the soft comfy beds and fall asleep to the sounds of the sea. It’s heaven.

Like most places in the area, it is earthy and unpretentious. No bright lights, glitz or glamour. Who needs it when you have such spectacular beauty right outside your door?

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