Kayak Camping in Pt. Reyes

San Francisco Chicken Ranch Beach

Added by Alite Designs

  • Sunsets, bonfires, oysters, and camping on the beach. What else do you really need?
  • Kayak to one of Tomales Bay's main boat-in campsites.
  • Pick up oysters and bbq them at your beach bonfire.
  • Duration: Overnight

Like camping in remote locations? Love oysters? This is it! Tomales Bay offers boat-in only campgrounds along the east side of the peninsula.

We departed from Chicken Ranch Beach, which is on the west side of Tomales Bay. We jumped in our kayaks and headed north in the bay for a quick breather at Heart's Desire Beach. This beach has restrooms, so keep that in mind when you head up. One thing that we learned for next time, it's best to start the paddle in the morning or in the early evening, once the wind has died down.

Once we were ready to take off from Heart's Desire, we headed up to Tomales Beach. This is one of two campsites, Marshall being the other, which offers restrooms at the campground. Be sure to catch the amazing sunsets from the northern most point of the beach.

If you need a kayak, we recommend renting kayaks from Blue Waters Kayak. If you reserve them far enough in advance, you may be able to depart from Blue Water Shop on the east side of the bay, which is closer to the campgrounds. Another plus side is that it's located right next to The Marshall Store. Stop here, pick up a dozen or 2 of raw oysters (can't go wrong with the Kumamotos), pack up the kayaks, and paddle across the bay. It's best to get an early start on the day to avoid potential headwinds.

Unfortunately, these campgrounds aren't dog friendly, so keep that in mind when planning future camping adventures.

Here's a map to give you a better lay of the land.

Pack List

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Camping, Kayaking

Skill Level:



Year Round



Adult Beverages
Picnic Area

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How to Get There

about 2 months ago

Bioluminescence is a must see!

If you stay overnight, plan to go during a new moon so that you can check out the sparkling of the bioluminescence at night! It's unreal! If you're going on the weekend, it can get really crowded on Saturday nights, so I recommend heading out early and securing a camp spot on one of the smaller beaches with only one tent spot (if you prefer solitude). Only 2 of the beaches (Marshall and Tomales) have restrooms, but it's worth heading to one of the far beaches on the north end for the solitude. You'll see plenty of seals, sea birds/pelicans, jellyfish, and other fun creatures. Make sure you bring all the water you will need (you can't filter water here) and pack out ALL of your waste. Pack lightly because you're pulling all the gear with you on the kayak ;)

about 2 months ago

over 1 year ago

Hi Friends! Planning this trip now. Did you bring all your camping stuff (wood, cooler, tents) in the Kayak with you? Blue water wants an arm and a leg to rent a kayak and transport your stuff in a boat. wondering if there is another way!

over 1 year ago

about 2 years ago

When paddling there, if you can get on the water early, before the wind, you'll be glad you did. We camped at Tomales Beach, which gets a little crowded, but was best for the group because it has a bathroom. Also, rent your kayaks as far in advance as possible to try to secure them from the Blue Water shop in Marshall. They has a second shop in Inverness, which we took off from, but it adds about an hour and a half to your paddle time. Oh and the sunsets on the beach are unreal!

about 2 years ago

over 2 years ago

Do this during the summer when you can see the bioluminescence at night.

over 2 years ago

over 2 years ago

Most years from June to early October there is bioluminesce in the Eelgrass patches. Contact a kayak guiding service if you are not familiar with tides & currents, compass navigation, or kayaking after dark. A VHF radio and float plan is a must!

over 2 years ago

over 2 years ago

Plan to leave early in the morning as the afternoon winds can make for dangerous and challenging kayaking.

over 2 years ago

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