Located near Point Arena, Stornetta Public Lands - also known as the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands - is a protected open area which is primarily managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Stornetta Public Lands are also a part of the California Coastal National Monument. This blufftop protected open area has multiple rocky and sandy beaches below it. While almost all of the beaches in Stornetta Public Lands are unnamed except for a single beach (named Garcia River Beach), these beaches are also collectively known as the Stornetta Public Lands Beaches.
The beaches in the Stornetta Public Lands do not have lifeguards. However, the area above the beaches has many amenities including restrooms and walking trails. Dogs are allowed in the Stornetta Public Lands on leash.
The beaches in Stornetta Public Lands offer many fun activities including sunbathing, beachcombing, wildlife watching, hiking, fishing, and scuba diving. The water near the beaches in Stornetta Public Lands is unsafe for recreational activities including swimming and surfing as the water here has strong currents and dangerous waves. However, scuba divers occasionally go into the water near Garcia River Beach during favorable conditions to explore the vibrant underwater biodiversity present here. Depending on the time of the year, you can also see migrating whales in the water near the Stornetta Public Lands. If you like birdwatching, you can also see many kinds of birds around the beaches in Stornetta Public Lands. The area around Garcia River Beach is also home to the extremely rare Point Arena mountain beaver. If you are planning to fish in the water near Stornetta Public Lands, please make sure that you follow the local fishing regulations. The blufftop area above the beach in Sea Lion Cove offers amazing Instagram-worthy views of the beautiful offshore rock formations present near the cove.
The Stornetta Public Lands spans over 1,600 acres and is the first mainland-based portion of the California Coastal National Monument. This site has a variety of diverse habitats including wetlands, grasslands, and forests of cypress trees. You can explore these public lands via hiking trails present here, which also offer great opportunities for a fun wildlife watching session along with a unique insight into the exquisite biodiversity of Northern California.
It is important to note that only two beaches in the Stornetta Public Lands are accessible as the other beaches in this protected open space are situated below unstable and steep bluffs. These two beaches include an unnamed beach present in a cove called Sea Lion Cove and Garcia River Beach (which is situated at the mouth of the Garcia River). To access the beach in Sea Lion Cove, you need to divert towards Lighthouse Road from Pacific Coast Highway/Shoreline Highway. A free parking lot is available along Lighthouse Road. After parking here, you can walk on an access trail which goes down along steep bluffsides and offers access to this beach. If you want to access Garcia River Beach, you need to park at the small southern parking lot of a state park known as Manchester State Park. This parking lot is located near the end of Stoneboro Road. From this parking lot you need to walk around half-a-mile to Manchester State Park’s beach area. Once you reach Manchester State Park’s beach area, you need to walk a mile south along the coastline to finally get to Garcia River Beach. We recommend visiting this beach wearing appropriate footwear as it is known to have lots of driftwood.
There are many attractions near Stornetta Public Lands. The Point Arena Light Station is a historical landmark that has a lighthouse which was constructed in the early 20th century (after an earlier lighthouse on the site was severely damaged by storms) and is over a hundred feet tall. Apart from this lighthouse, there is also an indoor museum which is set in a 19th century Fog Signal Building - this museum has interesting exhibits offering a unique insight into the property and the surrounding coastal region’s interesting natural and cultural history. The Light Station property also serves as a 23-acre outdoor museum that has many interesting exhibits including a stone labyrinth (which is the westernmost part of a series of public artworks spread across the 39th Latitude known as the "Art Line"), a druid’s circle made from shale pillars, a gazebo from the 1992 Mel Gibson movie Forever Young (which was shot on the light station property), a native plant garden, and a number of interpretive historical plaques and markers present around the museum grounds. The Garcia River Casino offers many fun and interesting games and has a diverse range of exciting slot machines. If you are looking for another attraction near Stornetta Public Lands, Manchester State Park has a variety of habitats including coastal scrub, sand dunes, grasslands, and wetlands which you can explore via hiking trails. These hiking trails offer fantastic views of the northern California shoreline. The state park also offers a unique insight into Northern California’s vibrant biodiversity and you can also occasionally see sheep and cattle grazing around this state park. In addition, many wildflowers are present in the Manchester State Park including California poppies and baby blue eyes, which bloom during spring and create memorable coastal scenery. The state park also has a campsite. If you are interested in camping in Manchester State Park, you can visit Manchester State Park’s webpage at California Department of Parks and Recreation’s website for more information.
If you get hungry, there are many great restaurants near Stornetta Public Lands. Bird Cafe and Supper Club offers excellent gourmet dishes which are prepared using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Pirates Cove Restaurant offers amazing Mexican dishes including fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas. If you are looking for another good and affordable restaurant near Stornetta Public Lands, The River Grill offers a variety of delicious burgers.
If you are looking for a hotel near Stornetta Public Lands, there are many great nearby options. The 4-Star Elk Cove Inn & Spa is 24 minutes away by car and offers many amenities including a rooftop deck, a day spa, a beachfront gazebo, a guest lounge, and complimentary breakfast and wine and cocktails. A more affordable hotel is the 3-Star Coast Guard House Historic Inn & Cottages that offers accommodation in rustic cottages which offer interesting views of the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for another good and affordable hotel near Stornetta Public Lands, the 2-Star Lighthouse Pointe Resort has a pool.
Sandee Rating: 84/100