Tomales Bay

Take a weekend nature retreat close to home.


Published:

istock.com/eric foltz

For travelers who want to disconnect from their busy work weeks and re-connect with nature, Tomales Bay in Marin County may be just the place. Approach a weekend in Tomales Bay like a true adventure, and prepare to let go of some of life’s modern conveniences, such as regular cell phone reception and gas stations on every corner. In return, Tomales Bay offers a unique, unhampered nature retreat.

Make a pit stop in the small, picturesque town of Point Reyes Station, which serves as a gateway to both the east and west ends of Tomales Bay. Hit up Toby’s Feed Barn, a family-owned general store, for the main essentials. Visit Cowgirl Creamery for a sampling of locally produced cheeses, and stop at the Bovine Bakery for coffee, breads, cookies, and homemade energy bars.

In keeping with the spirit of immersion in nature, book a night at the secluded Poet’s Loft. Tucked away on Highway 1 at the northern end of Tomales Bay in Marshall (which happens to be the home of the Marshall Store, purveyor of the most delicious barbecued oysters ever), the Loft—what may be the most romantic inn of Marin County—offers guests gorgeous views of the water. Looking for something more central? Numerous bed-and-breakfast inns can also be found in Point Reyes Station.

Protected by the California Bays and Estuaries Policy, Tomales Bay is a haven for bicycling, kayaking, hiking, and virtually any outdoor activity. The courteous and knowledgeable staff at Blue Water Kayaking can provide the bikes, paddleboards, and kayaks for guided nature tours. In June, Blue Water Kayaking began a special bioluminescence tour for a rare midnight view of the Bay. Bioluminescence is caused by microorganisms that glow when disturbed. The tours run on dark, moonless nights so that kayakers can fully experience the blue hue that emanates around the kayaks from the microorganisms.

Tomales Bay is nothing short of heaven for oyster lovers. Located on the east shore, Tomales Bay Oyster Co. and Hog Island Oyster Co. are the two largest producers in the region. There’s a little something for everyone at each establishment. Tomales Bay Oyster Farm takes a do-it-yourself approach where visitors haul large coolers onto the grounds and cook oysters bought on site over fire pits. Alcohol flows and a loud sound system plays music overhead. Dogs are welcome. Hog Island is a one-stop shop that sells oysters and all of the necessary cooking supplies. Wrap up a Tomales Bay weekend by relaxing and enjoying the locally farmed oysters right next to the still water of the Bay.

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