Tomales Bay is a wonder of a water feature that is formed by the San Andreas Fault as it runs directly under the 12-mile long inlet that separates the Point Reyes Peninsula from the California mainland. Providing access to this unique body of water is Tomales Bay State Park, which covers a stretch of coastline on both sides of Tomales Bay. The majority of park land as well as it's main attractions lie on the west side of Tomales Bay. This is the only state parkland found on the Point Reyes Penninsula surrounded by the world renowned Point Reyes National Seashore.
Tomales Bay State Park is treasured for its secluded coves and spectacular white sand beaches. The beaches tend to stay sheltered from the strong coastal winds by Inverness Ridge, the high point on the Point Reyes peninsula, and as a result they regularly have calm, shallow waters. Bounded by lush vegetation that is covered with an abundance of lichen (such as old man’s beard), the area is representative of a fog-laden coastline. Trees includes coastal live oak, a hearty forest of Bishop pine, California laurel, madrone, willows, tan oaks, and alders. A verdant understory that is dense with ferns and huckleberry coats the floor.
Four beaches dot the parks' western shoreline; Heart’s Desire Beach, Indian Beach, Pebble Beach and Shell Beach are all connected by trail. Visitors can drive right up to Heart’s Desire Beach and enjoy easy access to its scenic picnic areas. For this reason, Hearts Desire is the park's centerpiece and its most popular destination, particularly on warm-weather days. More often than not, however, the weather around Tomales Bay is mild or cool, and if you are visiting on a weekday, you may have the park to yourself.
The other three beaches are accessible by boat or hike-in only. Indian Beach to the north has two native Miwok shelters and a half-mile self-guided nature trail that leads north from Heart’s Desire Beach. For a little more seclusion than what Heart’s Desire might offer, walk the Johnstone Trail south to Pebble or Shell Beach, or take the Nature Trail north to Indian Beach.
The Vista Point Group Picnic Area is also reachable by car or a short walk south along the Johnstone Trail. Nestled among bishop pines, this overlook provides spectacular views of Tomales Bay and the beaches to the north.