The beach and dunes at Salinas River State Beach are part of Monterey Bays unique coastal dune system and it is home to many species of birds, including the California brown pelican, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, western snowy plover, western gull, black phoebe, western scrub-jay, California towhee, white-crowned sparrow, and more. The beach is a popular fishing site.

walking
2 months ago

Update 4/24/2018: Went again on a weekday morning and it was spectacular! The sun even came out, which I didn’t know happened in Moss Landing. Walked all the way to the Salinas River mouth again, 4 miles south of Island Beach. Walking that far through sand is no joke!! The trail through the dunes is exploding with all sorts of wonderful wildflowers—I really didn’t expect so much diversity! Had the entire beach to myself save a few fishermen. I would highly recommend taking a stroll through the town of Moss Landing and getting a bite to eat at Phil’s Fish Market. Seeing the boats in a real working harbor is awesome too. This is one of my new favorite spots, and my pup loves it too.

This was a great hike, I’ll definitely be going again and finishing the loop as I waked only on the beach this time. I walked all the way to the Salinas River mouth, a good 5 miles south, and it was absolutely beautiful, although it isn’t spilling over into the ocean as of 4/22/2018. There were a LOT of seabirds and fisherman about on a late Sunday afternoon, and the surf is absolutely wild and beautiful to watch. It was very windy and wet out so I recommend thick layers and a hard shell jacket. I would also recommend waterproof sneakers, as the sand is very coarse and uncomfortable to walk on barefoot or in sandals for long periods of time. The shore is also very narrow, so be careful of sneaker waves, especially when passing by the cement wall jutting out into the shore break, and especially if you have your furry friend with you. Dogs are allowed off leash north of the cement wall on Island Beach—you will see a sign posted as you pass by the wall—but I had my well-behaved dog off leash the whole time and had no problems. The beach is too narrow for rangers to drive. If your dog would kill a bird (or eat a dead one for that matter) I would advise against letting them off south of the wall. If you go south to the river mouth, don’t be tempted to rest your legs by walking up a path through the beach houses onto the road behind them; within 10 minutes on the road I was picked up and politely escorted back to my car by their security. Rich people suck.