Andy Falk
Coldwell Banker Realty

Terra Linda, San Rafael, Real Estate Sales, Andy Falk


Stinson Beach – Sharks Not Allowed

Stinson Beach is not necessarily known for its great surf. describes the beach as a place for beginners and gives the break a ‘mediocre’ rating. As much as I hate to admit it, that sounds about right. After all, Stinson and Bolinas were where I spent my first year surfing before I gained the confidence and ability to surf Ocean Beach. The closer I get to retirement age the more I surf Stinson and the less I surf Ocean Beach. It’s a more forgiving wave.

Stinson Beach can also be a fun wave when the sandbars decent in the spring and fall. The water is never too crowded at Stinson in part because of the ominous shark warning signs and the very real presence of great white sharks in the water. There have been 15 shark attacks off Marin County shores between 1950 – 2013 ( ). There was shark attack at Stinson in 1998, and there have been numerous sightings and beach closings over the years including 8/24/08 -  9/2/08 after two sightings. ( )

I typically don’t surf Stinson between May and September. The sharks are still hanging around October and November, but the surf is generally good enough to ignore them. Most sightings have come in the summer months, which gives me a false sense of security I like to embrace.      

Stinson Beach is a super popular day getaway option not just for Marinites, but much of the Bay Area when the weather gets hot on weekends and holidays. It can get crowded, and making your way through town to the state beach parking area can take a while, but it can be worth the effort to cool down on this stretch of sand. The gated Seadrift community is directly north of the state beach, and the Seadrift side of the Bolinas channel can get some decent surf. Anyone can walk down the Seadrift beach to the Bolinas channel, but you will likely be turned around at the gate if you try to drive into Seadrift.

Stinson is known for its Parkside Snack Bar, which always seems to do a brisk business selling things like hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and frosty’s. The Breaker’s Café is a nice place to enjoy a sit-down meal. The Stinson Beach market is just above the Shoreline Highway, and also on the highway through town is the Live Water Surf Shop. The shop is known for its ‘No Shark’ logo, a shark with a circle around it and a slash through it.

Try to avoid Stinson during warm weekends and holidays unless you enjoy traffic, parking challenges and lots of people. Getting stuck behind one or more slow-moving vehicles on highway one, as picturesque as the drive is, can be off putting. Becoming part of a procession of weekend warriors and holiday revelers going over Mount Tamalpais is also a drag and adds a lot of time to the excursion. Stinson is best enjoyed during the working week.