Kayak Camping in Point Reyes National Seashore

The sun came out as I parked the truck at Miller’s Boat Launch, north of San Francisco in Tamales Bay. Tyler, his parents, and his cousin Ben were just hauling up the kayaks after a two day camping trip, and I was tagging in to join him for a couple more days.

After our goodbyes, Tyler and I paddled across the bay to an empty beach with our orange marmot tent already set up and waiting.

Cooking dinner at our empty beach camp

Cooking dinner at our empty beach camp

Point Reyes National Seashore is an ecological gem that seems surprisingly underutilized considering its proximity to San Francisco and Marin County. Large green bluffs exploding with wildflowers and crawling with Tule Elk are sandwiched by the rugged Pacific Ocean and the narrow, hill-lined Tamales Bay.

McClures Beach in Point Reyes

McClures Beach in Point Reyes

Curious seals roll and flop in the water to look at the humans strangely gliding through the water, and from our campsite we could hear the distant screech of cormorants on Hog Island and Duck Island. Those two islands combined may have enough guano to power our nation’s phosphorous needs.

Paddling across Tomales Bay

We spent the next couple days hiking the bluffs and paddling along the coast in fickle and erratic weather. One morning we paddled to Tomales Beach with a strong headwind while being pelted by rain, but by the time we stowed the kayaks on shore the sun came out and the wind died. The next morning the sun gently pushed us across the bay with a light wind at our backs, but half an hour later white caps and a wall of wind kept us from going out for more.

We definitely recommend doing your own weekend/weekday paddle camping trip. Here a few tips for planning your own cheap, awesome kayak camping trip to Tamales Bay:

– rent kayaks on craigslist: Tyler found a pseudo-business on craigslist called Backyard Kayaks in Sacramento who rent a kayak for $45/week, a way better deal than the $50/day you may find closer to the beach

– reserve campsites on Reserveamerica.com where backpacking sites are full months ahead of time, but boat-in only sites can usually be reserved right before you leave home

– bring waterproof bags or line your stuff in garbage bags: water will seep into all of your portholes or will splash on top of your kayak, so make sure to cover up any non-waterproof gear (sleeping bags, clothes, toiletries, etc.)

– bring your own water: there is no freshwater on the campgrounds, so make sure to bring about a gallon/person/day

– go now: the widlflowers are blooming and it’s empty, the perfect time to explore!

Widflowers, elk, and seals – oh my!


  1. Hi Victoria and Tyler:

    Awesome camping trip! I love your descriptions of the local flora and fauna. Got to add this to my bucket list! Your photos are great too, you both look very fit and happy. Glad to see you’re having fun. Elyse and I are looking forward to your next blogs. Sounds like a great adventure thus far.
    Daddy and Elyse

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