Sea Ranch in Sonoma County California

Sea Ranch is located on the northernmost boundary of Sonoma County


Sea Ranch in Sonoma County is one of the most pristine, scenic California Beach communities we've visited. This privately owned, unincorporated community features Sea Ranch Lodge where tourists can stay in ocean view rooms and enjoy the most scenic and natural environment found anywhere along the California Coast. One of the Sea Ranch architects, Charles Moore, was known for his meticulous attention to detail as seen in a variety of projects such as the Beverly Hills City Hall restoration.


Having driven past Sea Ranch on fog-shrouded Highway 1 previously, you could not see the spectacular beaches from the Shoreline Highway. What you could observe, however, were rustic wood sign posts engraved with the Sea Ranch logo design. These sign markers seemed to continue for miles, marking street turnouts. It was odd that such a place didn't appear to have grocery stores, gas stations or even a shopping center. Of course there is shopping across the Sonoma County line not far away in Mendocino County's Gualala. Yet from the length of the drive through Sea Ranch (more than 10 miles), Sea Ranch was the most populated area since Bodega Bay 42 miles south and over an hour's drive from this beguiling location that was most likely a town.


Spring forward a year and a second trip along the California coast north of San Francisco. Instead of staying this time at Bodega Bay, Little River or Eureka, I was actually going to Sea Ranch, a place I knew little about but was yearning to explore.

Living in the heart of the concrete jungle in Los Angeles makes you either fearful of nature, ambivalent or addicted to having it in your life. I was on the fearful side, tending toward ambivalence. The idea of going on nature hikes, fishing on the Pacific Ocean or kayaking down the Gualala River is a bit overwhelming for the city girl who tries to keep her Reeboks looking new so she can wear them to outdoor functions throughout the year. It's not cool to wear dirty shoes in the city, even if you are attending fundraiser events at the beach. Now that the trip is over, my Reebok shoes are filthy. I stopped by the Reebok Factory Outlet store in Monterey as I headed back to L.A. and purchased two pairs of shoes to replenish my stock of white Reeboks.


Checking into Sea Ranch - I arrived at Sea Ranch late in the day and  checked into my abode, a luxurious rental house available for overflow traffic that often occurs at this popular spot well known in the Bay Area. I took a shower and scurried off to bed without time to get my bearings. In the dark I heard the crashing waves somewhere out there. While the sounds of the ocean were initially exciting, they lulled me into a peaceful sleep. Waking up early to go on a "Picture Perfect" hike, I noticed it was incredibly quiet at Sea Ranch. There were no sirens nor constant drone of jet engines that land or take off from three airports near my Southern California house.

The problem with my hike given by a Sea Ranch resident was the grass. It was wet. My Reebok shoes and the pants I wore became soaked within 5 minutes of heading out to the cliffs above Blacks Beach, known for its black sand. My shoes would stay wet for the next five hours as the sun broke through the fog many times and two sets of rain clouds broke loose. By the end of my Northern California trip that included a day and night in the rain at Safari West in Santa Rosa, my shoes would be deluged with rain, mud and nature's stuff. Down in L.A. it was sunny. That's one major difference between the north and south.


But looking at the photos I took of deer, starfish and sea lions...looking at the photos of beautiful beaches, redwood forests and colorful flowers, I would not trade a single minute of the experience for a sunny day at Venice Beach.


10 highlights of the stay


1. Irises growing wild. The week before I went to Sea Ranch, FedEx knocked on my door and delivered a dozen Irises from my brother as my birthday gift. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him writing a check as I looked at the Irises scattered beneath my feet in this wildflower paradise.

2. A little brown mouse crawling through the hay at our Sea Ranch dinner function at the barn. I hadn't seen a cute, furry brown mouse in years...only gray, swift rats prevalent in the alleys behind restaurants. A girl sitting next to me was obviously from the city as well. She quickly raised her sandaled feet onto her chair and kept them there throughout dinner.

3. Mosquitoes in bogs. I forgot that bogs exist, much less huge, hungry mosquitoes. I learned on the trip that bug repellant clothing sold at REI is popular amongst seasoned nature buffs. If you hike in the woods at Gualala Point Regional Park, (707) 565-CAMP (2267), bring some bug spray with you or keep moving.

4. Grocery stores near Sea Ranch that close actually close before 10 p.m.

5. Clear ocean water. You can see through it! All sorts of little sea creatures are visible.

6. Wine, wine, wine.  Sonoma County is a wine growing region and locals are generally quite knowledgeable about wine. They drink it with most meals.

7. Roads with no cars in sight. How refreshing is that?

8. Organic foods. They are readily available and served at many restaurants.

9. The sounds of nature. When you leave the noise pollution behind, the senses become heightened and your body relaxes. It seems healthy and is quite appealing.

10. The locals. You won't find nicer folks than people who work at Sea Ranch. They seem to go out of their way to help you enjoy your stay.


For more information about Sonoma County:

Sonoma County Tourism Bureau
420 Aviation Blvd., Ste 106
Santa Rosa, CA 95403


Submission from Peter: "  The Sea Ranch is internationally known for architecture and land use planning, and draws a large number of educated and discerning people to live and vacation here.  In Gualala, you can find custom made carpeting, modern home furnishings, and fine women's clothing.  We have two very good restaurants, Pangea and St. Orres. And, the supermarkets are open until 7:30 in the winter, and 8 in the summer."

sea ranch

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