Among the incredible scenery, look-outs and picturesque sights, Marin County is home to numerous gorgeous beaches. When choosing which beach to spend a carefree afternoon, it’s essential to know your options.

Rodeo Beach a.k.a. Cronkite (5/5)

Surfers ride the mild waves close to the shore at Fort Cronkite.

Surfers ride the mild waves close to the shore at Fort Cronkite.

Cronkite exceeded all expectations with the many functions it serves. A wooden bridge connects the parking lot to the soft sand. Immediately, the temperate weather made it very comfortable and effortless to sit back and relax. Located in the Eastern corner of the beach, an assembly of surfers rode mild waves. Towards the west end of the beach, a cluster of sailboats bobbed in the water showcasing one of many activities seen at Cronkite. There was no issue with parking because there were plenty of available spaces. Half of the satisfaction with this beach was just the drive out itself. Passing through the Headlands on a clear day makes the trip much more pleasurable.

Stinson Beach (4.5/5)

Children and Adults eagerly play in the surf as the beach day winds down.

Children and Adults eagerly play in the surf as the beach day winds down.

Always a wonderful choice, one can never go wrong with a trip to Stinson Beach. The  sand is pleasing—as is the overall atmosphere. Stinson is undoubtedly the most crowded, as it attracts the largest variety of people. The expansive parking lot is just a few feet from the sand. Stinson is perfect for surfing, swimming or lying in the sand. Dogs run alongside the mellow surf and people of all ages scatter across the extensive beach. A big contributor to the overall likability of this beach is its proximity to downtown Stinson, which offers so much more than just surf and sand. If one wishes to make a day out of their beach trip, they will have no trouble finding a quick bite conveniently close.

Tennessee Valley Beach (3/4)

Large, rocky cliffs protrude and surround Tennessee Valley Beach.

Large, rocky cliffs protrude and surround Tennessee Valley Beach.

Tennessee Valley Beach was hardly a relaxing experience. Upon arriving, one is faced with a 1.8 mile hike, which truly made this beach distinct from all others. Unfortunately, Tennessee Valley Beach quickly turns a tranquil afternoon at the beach into an endeavor which might be longer than expected. The plunging cliffs surrounding the coves and the crystal blue water almost made up for the treacherous walk out. The cove was secluded and almost felt private, which enhanced the trip. However, I was not pleased when I realized the beach was located miles from any place where one could find food or drink. Seeing as the trek to get to the beach was so long, I found that this beach attracts a narrow array of people. Simply because the trip was lengthy and slightly tiresome, it was not an attainable option for smaller children to get out there.

China Camp Beach (4/4)

By far the most unique beach I visited, China Camp beach is a hidden gem which offers a serene setting. Unlike the stereotypical beach, this location seems to attract somewhat of a particular crowd: only adults. This aspect took away from the overall diversity because it felt less recreational and inclusive. Splitting the beach in two, a small museum area provides background on the beach’s past of shrimp and fish catching. The beach differs in the way that there is no sand; rather, small pebbles line the shore. Picnic tables are clustered slightly off to the right of the museum—just to the left of the museum is a small snack bar. China Camp Beach also features a collection of old boats up for display which change the atmosphere of the beach completely by adding a theme. Overall, the greatest factor of this beach was the calm ambiance.

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