This area extends many miles from Bodega Bay northward to just north of the Russian River. There are miles of beaches and many great tide pool areas. The tide pools are a mix of exposed rocky areas and boulder fields. The area has lots of mussels, aggregating anemones, limpets of all kinds and shapes along with a wide variety of algae. There are also lots of Sculpins darting about the shallower tide pools. The beaches are great for beach combing as lots of interesting items tend to wash ashore here.
The tide pools areas are located at the base of steep cliffs. There are several dozen turnouts on the top of the cliff with pathways leading down to the beach and tide pool areas. There are more easily accessible tide pools just north of where the Russian River empties into the ocean.
Tidepool AccessThe tide pools are located at the base of steep cliffs. Follow the pathways that lead down to the beach and walk along the beach to the tide pools. Many are located in secluded coves that are not very crowed. The better locations will be the more exposed areas with direct wave action. Look for areas with large boulders that area easy to get to as these will be the better locations.
Points of InterestThe Sonoma Coast State Park is a rather large park with many tide pool locations. The drive along this portion of highway 1 is one of the most scenic in all of California. The highway follows the coastline and has numerous parking areas and turn outs. Choose one of the turnouts and explore the opportunities to get down to the beach. The coast also features many huge rock monoliths just off the coast that provides stunning scenery.
Many of the rocks in the more protected areas are covered by large colonies of aggregating anemones. They are usually found on the back sides of rocks in more protected areas. Also look for the many limpets in the mid tidal zones as they can get pretty big. The solitaire sea anemones are also abundant in the cracks and shallow pools. Keep an eye out for the many sculpins that seem to be in every pool and areas with shallow water. Mussels are found in the exposed areas along with some barnacles.
Another great feature in this park is beach combing. While walking along the beach, make sure to take a look at the upper tide line as there are many interesting things that tend to wash up on the beach. The water is noticeably colder in this region compared to parts further south. This area is also exposed to very high wave action and it is common to find sections of rock almost devoid of marine life due to the strong waves.