Black Sand Beach California: A Complete Guide


Arriving boats and ships are greeted by this stunning black sand beach in San Francisco as they leave the open Pacific Ocean and head toward the Golden Gate Bridge and the calmer waters of the bay.

To avoid the crowds and take in the breathtaking views of the open ocean and the San Francisco Peninsula, head to this beach.

This unusual choice is ideal for a carefree day of sunbathing and wriggling your toes in the dark sand if you’re planning a day at the beach.

Today, we’re going to introduce you to Black Sands Beach.

Where is the Black Sands Beach?

This undiscovered treasure is frequently misidentified as Sausalito’s Black Sand Beach. The Marin Headlands, a section of the Golden Gate National Recreation area, is where the beach is actually situated.

For people making the journey from San Francisco, the beach is less than a 30-minute drive from most of the city.

Located in the southern section of the park, Black Sand Beach in Marin is midway between Kirby Cove to the east and the Point Bonita Lighthouse to the west.

The popular Rodeo Beach can be reached in just 10 minutes by car or 4 miles by foot.

The beach has a parking lot of its own, but getting there requires hiking down the.5-mile Upper Fisherman’s trail, which is semi-steep and has more than 250 steps.!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d804238.2408261041!2d-156.58975584573!3d20.548804978748695!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x7954adac0de5539b%3A0x3fd98b163198f812!2sBlack%20Sand%20Beach!5e0!3m2!1sen!2ssg!4v1669359870805!5m2!1sen!2ssg

Why Visit the Black Sand Beach?

This beach is close to San Francisco, but due to the difficulty accessing it and the lack of parking, it is still comparatively uncrowded.

This makes it a great place to visit if you are looking for a quiet day at the beach or a little privacy.

The beach is distinctive for its iron-rich dark sand, which appears black when wet from the pounding waves.

Although the sand is a darker shade of brown, it is still very different from the tan or white sand beaches that the majority of people are accustomed to.

There are very few of these rare black sand beaches in California and the closest one outside of this one is all the way up in Humboldt County.

The views across the bay’s opening, with the western tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in the distance, are another feature that distinguishes this beach.

From vantage points like Hawk Hill and Engagement Hill, a number of the nearby trails offer breathtaking views of the rest of the city as well as the Golden Gate Bridge.

The western end of the beach is a well-liked area for naturists and nudists who want to fully immerse themselves in nature.


Practical Information for Visiting the Black Sands Beach

  • Parking: Free
  • Amenities: Restrooms at the parking lot, Trails
  • Dog Friendly: No
  • Family/Kid Friendly?: Yes
  • Accessibility: Short hikes

Black Sands Beach Parking

Upper Fisherman’s Parking Lot

The closest parking space to Black Sand beach is this small lot. There are roughly twelve parking spots available, plus one designated spot for people with disabilities.

The only bathroom accessible to beachgoers is a vault-style toilet in the parking lot. At the end of the parking lot is where the inclining trail leads to the beach.

Street Parking on Conzelman Road

The right side of the one-way Conzelman Road has a moderately wide shoulder that is immediately outside the Upper Fisherman’s parking lot.

When the lot is full, people park here, but you should do so at your own risk because the space is constrained and you risk being hit by oncoming vehicles.

Presidio Riding Club Trail Parking

The distance from this parking lot to Black Sand beach, if you don’t mind a little hiking, is only 1.7 miles.

If the Upper Fisherman’s parking lot is full, this is a nice substitute because it is far from the crowds and has clean bathrooms. See below for which trails to take to the beach.

Coastal Trail Parking

The Julian trail is a longer, longer 4-mile hike from this parking area to the beach, making it a great third option.

The Golden Gate observation deck, which offers an amazing view of the bridge and the surrounding area, is only.2 miles away when you turn around and head back to your car, which is a plus.

Can You Swim in Black Sand Beach California?

Since the water can quickly become deep and choppy, it’s not exactly the best place to swim. While this rare sight is usually caused by eroded volcanic rock, rich in minerals and lacking silica, in these parts, it’s created by the dark shale and sandstone (greywacke) formed by tectonic activity of one continental and two oceanic plates meeting just offshore.

You can check out more information we have on Beaches in different areas:

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