Want to recharge your life? A trip to RCA can do just that. And a single stopover at the beautiful beach will probably inspire you to keep coming back. "It hasn't changed much in 20 years," says regular visitor Michael Velkoff. "A downside is that it's very exposed to the wind. The good news is that there are lots of nooks that are sheltered from the wind. And there's so much driftwood on the sand that many people build windbreaks or even whole forts. You could build a village with all that driftwood. The last time I went, somebody built a 30 foot tall dragon out of it." Suited and unsuited males and females and families visit the shoreline, which seems even bigger than its one mile length because, adds Velkoff, "we'll see six people on a beautiful day on a Sunday. Picture Limantour as far as how people are spread out on the sand. Everybody's like 100 feet apart. It's great."
The Nature Conservancy bought this land in 1977, then transferred it to the Point Reyes National Seashore, which turned around and leased it to Commonwealth Health Center, a nonprofit medical clinic. Official Point Reyes policy is that if there are complaints, nudists will be asked to move elsewhere. In practice, however, just about everyone at RCA is nude.
How to find it:
From Stinson Beach, take Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway) north towards Calle Del Mar for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Olema Bolinas Road and follow it 1.8 miles to Mesa Road in Bolinas. Turn right and stay on Mesa until you see cars parked past some old transmission towers. Park and walk a quarter mile to the end of the pavement. Go left through the gap in the fence. The trail leads to a gravel road. Follow it until you see a path on your right, leading through a gate. Take it along the cliff top until it veers down to the beach. "It's maybe a 20 minute walk from your car," says Velkoff. "It's steep and eroded, but maybe half the length of the trail at Red Rock." Or continue along Mesa until you come to a grove of eucalyptus trees. Enter through the gate here, then hike a half mile through a cow pasture on a path that will also bring you through thick brush. The second route is slippery and eroding but less steep. "It's shorter, but toward the end there's a rope for you to hold onto going down the cliff," tells Velkoff.
Decent sand that's good for almost every common beach activity.
Though seldom deserted, RCA is never crowded and averages 5-20 persons per day. One time, Velkoff counted eight people. On another day, there were just six persons. "It's a quiet place," says Velkoff. "Whenever I've been there, everyone's been nude."
First trail mentioned in bluffs area somewhat steep; other trail slippery and eroding; long hike; rapid current; cold water; swimming not recommended.