Access for All: Martins Beach

Martins Beach is now open for all to enjoy its spectacular beauty.

In 1972, California voters approved an initiative that created the Coastal Commission and ensured public access to the state's spectacular coastline. This law established that no one could impede people's ability to visit the beaches of California and that coast side development would be carefully regulated. From that point on, anyone, no matter their socioeconomic status, was allowed to explore this area and revel in the beauty of the Golden State.

But not all believed in this fundamental privilege of Californians. In 2008, the tech-billionaire Vinod Khosla paid $32.5 million for a multi-acre property that bordered the beautiful Martins Beach, located a few minutes south of the town of Half Moon Bay. A year later, wanting to protect the privacy of his land, Khosla locked the gate to the road that allowed people to access the beach. The following years brought a storm of court activity in which groups such as the Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastal Commission fought to regain public access to Martins Beach. 

Now, in 2017, after years of turmoil, the courts have handed the victory to the people of California, forcing Khosla to open the gate leading to the beach. I, wanting to revel in the beauty of California's coast and to enjoy our privilege of access to its beaches, decided to visit.

Pulling up to the access road, the gate was open, and I drove down the narrow road. But about halfway down, cones and signs marked that people had to pay $10 to park. Not wanting to fund the billionaire's life, I turned around and parked on the side of the highway. After walking back down to the beach, I was amazed at the beauty of the scenery. With dramatic cliffs and rock outcroppings surrounding the beautiful inlet, Martins Beach was truly a California gem. And I will always remember the twinkle of the setting sun on the turquoise water.

Having experienced this feeling, I am glad that every Californian is able to enjoy the land and sea of the beautiful state.

Here are some more pictures of this adventure:

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Brennan McDonald

For all of my life, I have been passionate about nature and the outdoors. Whenever possible, I enjoy to hike and bike through local California parks to explore the natural environment.