Big River Beach, part of Mendocino Headlands State Park, sits below the cliffs of the village of Mendocino, along the Big River estuary. The sprawling, sandy beach offers plenty of space and rarely many crowds. Because the beach is situated on a river, the configuration is always changing and sometimes families will find large lagoons and sandbars. Wildlife surround this area and families should be on the lookout for birds, river otters and harbor seals.
Big River Beach is a great spot for sunbathing, fishing, playing beach games, kayaking or canoeing or taking beach walks or picnics. Swimming is permitted; however, the river water, which flows in from the Pacific Ocean, tends to be on the chilly side much of the year. That likely won’t stop kids from swimming and the water is crystal-clear so we can’t blame them!
Things to Know/Bring
Accessing the beach may seem confusing to those from out of town. From the village, walk to the ironic white church (you can’t miss it) and you’ll find a path that goes to the cliffside and then wooden steps that lead down to the beach. Or drive just south of Mendocino and you’ll see a turn before you cross the bridge. There you will find a road that leads to a parking lot at beach level. Dogs are permitted on a leash. Restrooms are available during peak season.
Parking is free.