Our October Book of the Month, The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan, takes place on the Northern California coast — and since I grew up in the Bay Area, and spent my youth visiting many of the NoCal beaches described in Mermaid’s Mirror, I thought a brief travel guide to some of the best beaches in the area was in order!
Half Moon Bay
Located about 25 miles south of San Francisco, Madigan herself says that the city of Half Moon Bay was a large inspiration for the fictional town she created in Mermaid’s Mirror.
Half Moon Bay is a fairly typical coastal town, with shops and restaurants along the bay to attract tourists — along with resorts, spas, golf courses and other tourist-y attractions. The city is also home to its annual Art & Pumpkin Festival.
Half Moon Bay is also a popular spot for surfers, especially the big surf area known as Mavericks (another inspiration for Mermaid’s Mirror). Lisa herself provided us with the photo you see here of Mavericks!
Also located south of San Francisco, this was always my personal favorite place to visit on the Northern California Coast while growing up. I loved the mix of soft, white sand and rocky outcroppings along the beach — and the tide pools were always a ton of fun to explore. You could find all sorts of neat sea life nestled between the rocks — anemones, crabs, sea stars, and lots more.
This area is also home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, hands-down the best aquarium I’ve ever visited. The aquarium boasts a wide array of exhibits and displays, with its Kelp Forest among the most impressive. (And okay, the sea otters are freaking adorable — and if you’re lucky, you can even spot them out in the wild, floating along in the bay itself.)
Monterey Bay also has a cute tourist area, with seaside restaurants, shops and attractions. The pier is definitely worth a visit, just to peruse the offerings and check out the amazing views of the bay and the ocean beyond.
Not far from Monterey, Santa Cruz is home to UC Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (California’s oldest amusement park).
If you’re not in town to check out the college campus and root for the school’s mascot (the Banana Slugs), chances are you’re heading down to the Boardwalk to check out the rickety roller coasters or carnival rides, cotton candy and midway games. The Boardwalk is cheesy and campy, but it is Americana at its best. (Fun Fact! Many scenes in the cult classic movie The Lost Boys were filmed at the Boardwalk!)
Santa Cruz is also home to a large surfing population — and you can find plenty of surf shops in town to pick up boards, wet suits and other gear.
For the comments: Have you visited any beaches in Northern California? What did you see/do/enjoy? Tell us about it in the comments!