Tomales Bay

For the Best in Bay Area Kayaking, Fresh Seafood, and Fun!

Tomales Bay is a narrow sliver of the Pacific Ocean that pierces the northwestern portion of Marin County. Known for its fresh oysters and water sports, this inlet has been a favorite getaway for Bay Area residents since 1952, when Tomales Bay State Park was opened to the public for the first time. The history of the Bay goes back much farther than that, when the indigenous peoples of the California coast settled here for the abundance of fresh seafood and easy access to the bounty of the wetlands in the southern end of the Bay.

On days when the winds and weather are favorable, the waters of Tomales Bay teem with people kayaking, windsurfing, boating and enjoying the stunning beauty of the surrounding countryside. One of the crowning achievements of the area includes the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project, which opened in 2008. This project reclaimed and rehabilitated hundreds of acres at the south end of the Bay that had been drained and cleared for cattle grazing in the 1940s. Visitors, especially those who quietly enter the area on kayaks, can witness pelicans, stately cranes and herons and other waterfowl carefully working the tidal flats looking for crustaceans and other invertebrates.

There are other watercraft available, but kayaks are definitely the vessel of choice on this waterway, as there are kayaking rentals, lessons, special kayak excursions all day long and some evenings, guided nature tours and other kayak-centric activities. One of the activities that deserves special mention are the Evening Bioluminescence Paddles from June through November, when tiny dinoflagellates (small marine organisms) light up in the water and put on a show that is quietly spectacular.

Prices for kayak rentals and excursions vary, so your best bet is to bookmark for the most up-to-date information on prices, availability and special events. If you’d rather watch the boats and kayaks than ride in them, you’re in luck as well, especially if you love fresh oysters. There are lots of small towns on either side of the Bay, with restaurants that offer oysters and other delectable seafood right out of the Bay. If you love to get out on the water and observe shore birds, bat rays, jellyfish and other aquatic life, you should definitely consider spending a day or two out on Tomales Bay. If you’d like to get out of the city for a day, eat incredibly fresh seafood, stroll through seaside towns and relax, this is the place for you as well!