Mendocino Headlands and Beyond

Mendocino, California 95460

Mendocino Headlands and Beyond

Mendocino Headlands and Beyond Professional Review and Guide

"When the sea is calm, the mouth of the Big River offers excellent access to some of Mendocino’s better coves and caves for paddlers comfortable launching through surf. Reasonably protected rock gardens inside the cove’s northern edge give intermediates the opportunity to explore on their own, featuring “Hole in the Head” cave, one of the area’s larger and longer tunnels.

Rounding the bay’s northern point to Goat Island, experienced
paddlers will find one of Mendo’s best playgrounds, riddled with caves, waves, chutes, channels, secret passageways, and hidden coves. Although several calm-water labyrinths are tucked away behind offshore islets, getting to them requires advanced water-reading skills, running complex channels from the open sea. Short but sweet, the Headlands is one of Mendocino’s top trips."

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Trail Information

Nearby City
1-4 miles
Easy to Difficult
Skill Level
More access to small beaches below cliffs at lower tides.
Tidal Information
Strong ocean-going currents under Highway 1 bridge at the river mouth during ebb tide. Surf break with board surfers on the sand bar at the river mouth. Submerged rocks, sneaker waves, exposure. The area around Goat Island can get dicey during large northwest swells. Avoid disturbing seal haul outs and sea-bird nesting sites on the islets.
USGS: Mendocino (7.5 minute) and NOAA chart 18628
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018