Day Trip Along Pacific Coast Highway - 4th Stop - Tomales Bay and Pt. Reyes Lighthouse
Tomales Travel Blog› entry 11 of 36 › view all entries
Since I saw something on the Fine Living channel about Tomales Bay, I've wanted to see this area and try fresh oysters! I didn't take a lot of photos as we had planned to circle back through but ran out of time! I definitely want to come back when it's warm and go kayaking to one of the secluded beaches you can camp on!
This is a coastal estuary about 40 miles north of San Francisco. It is about 12 miles long and pretty shallow as it is the end of a rift valley created by the San Andreas Fault line. The northern end of the bay opens into Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean while the southern end has wetlands and Black Mountain near Pt Reyes Station.
What a treat to see the Pt Reyes seashore and the lighthouse! Although it's a very long drive from the main highway, the views are breathtaking and absolutely worth it! This is said to be the windiest point on the California coast and after trying to walk 1/2 mile against the wind just to get to the lighthouse observation deck, I won't disagree!!! We arrived too late to tour the lighthouse itself but the views still made it completely worthwhile!! And because we arrived late in the afternoon, the marine layer was beginning to roll in so some of my photos appear washed out and hazy - it's actually the marine layer and fog settling in.
Apparently on weekends from January through April, docents are stationed and you may see elephant seals or gray whales through binoculars! Watching the gray whale migration was an annual treat when I lived in Southern California growing up!
When you get up to the lighthouse observation deck, there are several exhibit boards that talk about the history of the lighthouse and why it is located so far down on the cliffs! Not only is this the windiest place on the Pacific Coast, it's the second foggiest stop in the whole North American continent! The Point Reyes headlands which jut 10 miles out to sea are an obvious danger to ships entering or leaving the San Francisco Bay. By placing the lighthouse so far down, it is not affected by the thick fog! The Point Reyes Lighthouse was in operation from 1870 to 1975 when the Coast Guard installed an automated light.
One interesting note I found out after visiting is it withstood the massive 1906 earthquake wherein the entire peninsula and lighthouse moved north 18 feet in less than one minute! The only damage the lighthouse sustained was the lens which slipped off its tracks! After experiencing a few hefty earthquakes growing up in California, it is amazing to think it could've survive with such little damage.