7 Best Things to Do in Shelter Cove CA, The Black Sands Beach in California

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Shelter Cove CA is a hidden gem on the northern California coast, where the rugged King Range meets the Pacific Ocean. This scenic and secluded destination offers a variety of outdoor activities and attractions for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Whether you want to hike the Lost Coast Trail, see the majestic redwoods, watch whales from your balcony, or explore the tide pools, Shelter Cove has something for everyone.

Best Things to Do in Shelter Cove
Best Things to Do in Shelter Cove CA – Black Sands Beach in California

Consider reading: Best Hiking Trails in California

Here are the 7 best things to do in Shelter Cove CA that you don’t want to miss.

List of Best Things to Do in Shelter Cove CA (Black Sands Beach in California)

Hike the Lost Coast TrailA 26-mile scenic trail that follows the rugged coastline and passes by Black Sands Beach, one of the largest black sand beaches in California.
See the redwoodsVisit nearby parks such as Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Avenue of the Giants, or Redwood National and State Parks to see the tallest trees in the world.
Watch whales at Spyglass Inn at Shelter CoveStay at the cozy and romantic Spyglass Inn at Shelter Cove, which offers oceanfront suites with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and wildlife.
Whale watching tour with Shelter Cove Whale WatchTake a seasonal tour with Shelter Cove Whale Watch to see gray whales, humpback whales, blue whales, and more, and get up close to these magnificent creatures.
Swim, surf, or dive for abaloneExplore the rocky reefs along the coast and harvest abalone legally with a fishing license and an abalone report card. Abalone is a delicacy found in Shelter Cove.
Charter boat fishing or sightseeing with Shelter Cove ChartersHire a charter boat from Shelter Cove Fishing Charters for fishing trips targeting salmon, rockfish, lingcod, halibut, tuna, and more. You can also enjoy scenic cruises to see dolphins, seals, sea lions, and birds.
Explore the tide poolsVisit the tide pools during low tide and calm days to discover colorful sea stars, anemones, crabs, snails, and other marine creatures.
List of Best Things to Do in Shelter Cove (Black Sands Beach in California)

Hiking the Lost Coast Trail in Shelter Cove CA

The Lost Coast Trail, a renowned backpacking journey in California, spans 25.5 miles and concludes at Shelter Cove. This trail, which skirts the King Range Wilderness and the Pacific Ocean, is a testament to nature’s magnificence and strength.

Hikers traverse a slim beach strip, encountering wildlife like sea lions, elephant seals, and diverse seabirds. Crucially, the hike demands careful planning to bypass high tide-inundated areas. Essential preparations include obtaining a permit, carrying a bear canister, and ensuring robust physical fitness.

Typically, the journey, starting from Mattole Beach and culminating at Black Sands Beach near Shelter Cove, takes 2-4 days. The Lost Coast Trail is a must-do for serious hikers, offering a distinctive and memorable exploration of California’s untamed coastline.

Pro Tip: The trail can be quite a challenge for the unseasoned adventurer due to its remote nature. It’s always a good idea to check the local tide charts before heading out to avoid getting caught in high tides. Always let someone know of your hiking plan, and don’t forget to carry your survival essentials.

Marveling at the Redwoods in Shelter Cove CA

Shelter Cove is surrounded by some of the best redwood forests in California, where you can see the tallest, oldest, and most massive trees on Earth. Redwoods are magnificent and awe-inspiring, and they create a pristine and diverse ecosystem. 

There are many state parks and reserves where you can see these giant conifers, but some of the closest and most popular ones are Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Redwood National Park, and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the largest of California’s redwood parks, and it features the famous Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile scenic drive that passes through some of the most impressive groves of redwoods.

Redwood National Park is a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, and it protects 45% of the remaining old-growth redwoods in the world. Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is part of the Lost Coast, and it offers a remote and rugged experience of hiking and camping among the redwoods and the ocean. Seeing the redwoods is a must-do activity in Shelter Cove, as it will make you appreciate the wonder and diversity of nature.

Pro Tip: As enchanting as they are, the redwoods demand respect. Stick to the designated paths and avoid disturbing the ecosystem. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars; birdwatching opportunities in these parks are unrivaled.

Whale Watching at Spyglass Inn at Shelter Cove CA

If you’re looking for a luxurious and relaxing stay in Shelter Cove, look no further than Spyglass Inn at Shelter Cove CA, the most upscale accommodation in town. Spyglass Inn offers oceanfront spa suites with private balconies, where you can watch whales from the comfort of your room.

Shelter Cove is a prime location for whale watching, as it attracts gray, humpback, and killer whales during their migration and birthing periods. The peak season for whale watching is in April and May, when you can see the females giving birth and the newborn calves swimming alongside their mothers.

You can also see the males following them at a slower pace, as they head to warmer waters. Spyglass Inn provides high-powered binoculars for their guests, so you can get a closer look at these majestic mammals. You can also walk down to the rocks and the beach, where you can often find the whales right there. Watching whales at Spyglass Inn is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Shelter Cove.

Pro Tip: For an enhanced viewing experience, consider bringing a pair of high-quality binoculars. And don’t forget to ask the front desk about the best times to spot the wildlife, as they usually have updated information.

Embarking on a Whale Watching Tour with Shelter Cove CA Whale Watch

If you want to get even closer to the whales, you can book a whale watching tour with Shelter Cove Whale Watch, the only company that offers this service in town. Shelter Cove Whale Watch operates a 28-foot boat that can accommodate up to six passengers, and it offers two-hour tours that depart from the Shelter Cove Marina.

You’ll be guided by a knowledgeable and friendly captain, who will take you to the best spots to see the whales and other marine wildlife, such as dolphins, seals, sea lions, and sea otters. You’ll also learn about the history and ecology of the area, and enjoy the stunning views of the coast and the mountains. 

Shelter Cove Whale Watch provides life jackets, binoculars, and snacks for their guests, and they guarantee a whale sighting or your money back.

A whale watching tour with Shelter Cove Whale Watch is a fun and exciting way to experience the marine life and the scenery of Shelter Cove.

Swimming, Surfing, or Diving for Abalone at Shelter Cove CA

Shelter Cove CA is not only a great place to watch the ocean, but also to enjoy its waters. You can swim, surf, or dive for abalone in the clear and clean sea, and have a blast. Swimming in Shelter Cove is refreshing and invigorating, and you can choose from several beaches, such as Black Sands Beach, Mal Coombs Park Beach, and Big Black Sands Beach.

Surfing in Shelter Cove is challenging and rewarding, and you can find some of the best waves in northern California, such as Deadman’s, No Pass, and The Point.

Diving for abalone is a fun and adventurous activity, and you can find plenty of them along the rocky shore. Abalone are huge snails that live on the rocks in the shallows, and they are prized for their meat and shells. You’ll need a full wetsuit, a mask, a snorkel, a pair of fins, a weight belt, an abalone bar, an abalone gauge, and a fishing license to dive for abalone. 

You’ll also need to measure them before removing them from the rocks, and follow the legal and safety regulations. Swimming, surfing, or diving for abalone in Shelter Cove is a great way to have fun and exercise in the ocean.

Pro Tip: Abalone diving is for experienced divers only, due to strong currents and rugged underwater terrain. Always follow local regulations, dive with a buddy, and prioritize safety over the catch.

Charter Boat Fishing or Sightseeing with Shelter Cove Charters

If you’re a fishing enthusiast or a sightseeing lover, you can charter a boat with Shelter Cove Charters, the premier fishing and touring company in town. Shelter Cove Charters operates a 32-foot boat that can accommodate up to six passengers, and it offers half-day and full-day trips that depart from the Shelter Cove Marina.

You’ll be guided by a professional and courteous captain, who will take you to the best fishing spots or the most scenic locations, depending on your preference. You’ll have a chance to catch a variety of fish, such as salmon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod, and tuna, or to see a variety of sights, such as lighthouses, waterfalls, caves, and cliffs.

Shelter Cove Charters provides all the fishing gear, bait, and tackle, as well as snacks and drinks for their guests. You’ll also get to keep your catch, and they’ll clean and fillet it for you. Chartering a boat with Shelter Cove Charters is a wonderful way to explore the waters and the wonders of Shelter Cove.

Pro Tip: The weather out at sea can be unpredictable, so always carry an extra layer of clothing. If you’re prone to seasickness, consider taking preventative medication before setting sail.

Exploring the Tide Pools at Shelter Cove CA

Shelter Cove is also a great place to explore the tide pools, which are isolated pockets of seawater that form in the intertidal zone during the tidal cycles. These unique ecosystems are filled with a variety of marine life, such as sea anemones, barnacles, mussels, crabs, snails, starfish, and seaweed.

You can find tide pools along the rocky shore, where the seawater gets trapped as the tide recedes. The best time to visit tide pools is at low tide, when you can see the most creatures and plants. You’ll need a pair of gloves and reef shoes to protect your hands and feet from the sharp rocks and shells.

You’ll also need to be careful not to disturb or damage the tide pool inhabitants, as they are sensitive and fragile. You can observe and admire them, but do not touch or collect them. Exploring the tide pools in Shelter Cove is a fun and educational way to learn about the marine life and the intertidal zone.

Pro Tip: As delightful as tide pools are, they’re also delicate. Be mindful of where you step and never remove any creatures from their homes. A good pair of water shoes can provide both grip and protection for your feet.

Final Thoughts on Best Things to Do in Shelter Cove CA – Black Sands Beach in California

Shelter Cove is a hidden gem on the northern California coast, where you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and attractions. You can hike the Lost Coast Trail, see the redwoods, watch whales from your balcony or a boat, swim, surf, or dive for abalone, charter a boat for fishing or sightseeing, or explore the tide pools. Shelter Cove has something for everyone, and it will make you fall in love with nature and adventure.

And it’s not just about the beach hiking through the enchanting Lost Coast Trail, viewing an array of captivating marine life, or just sitting back and soaking up the soul-stirring sunsets – there’s something for everyone in this Californian haven.

FAQs on Things to Do in Shelter Cove

What is Shelter Cove CA?

Shelter Cove CA is a beautiful coastal town located on California’s Lost Coast region in the United States. Known for its breathtaking scenery, rugged landscapes, and abundant wildlife, this serene destination is a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.

Is Shelter Cove CA open to the public?

Yes, Shelter Cove CA is open to the public, offering free entry without gate fees. With ample parking, bike paths, and walkways, it’s a premier destination for dining, shopping, and entertainment, complete with boating and water sports opportunities for a memorable visit.

Is Shelter Cove CA a good place to live?

Shelter Cove, CA offers a laid-back lifestyle with essential services for a comfortable living, such as local groceries, dining options, and accommodations. Its remote location fosters a tight-knit community ideal for those seeking a slower pace of life away from urban bustle.

What stores are in Shelter Cove CA Hilton Head?

Shelter Cove in Hilton Head is home to a variety of stores, including notable names such as ArtWare, AT&T, Belk, Birdie James, Coastal Bliss, Copper Penny, and Coastal Provisions Co. Additionally, the fashionable Fab’rik boutique is also located here, offering a diverse shopping experience for visitors.

What are some of the top attractions in Shelter Cove?

Shelter Cove boasts several remarkable attractions including the Black Sands Beach, King Range National Conservation Area, Mal Coombs Park, and the Shelter Cove Lighthouse. Each of these locations offers a unique experience, from hiking and exploring the coastal landscapes to enjoying tranquil beach walks and picturesque views.

What outdoor activities can be enjoyed in Shelter Cove CA?

Shelter Cove offers a wide array of outdoor activities. These include hiking the trails in the King Range National Conservation Area, beachcombing at Black Sands Beach, fishing in the Pacific Ocean, and spotting wildlife like seals, sea lions, and a myriad of bird species. The area is also renowned for its spectacular whale-watching opportunities.

What kind of accommodation options are there in Shelter Cove CA?

There is a range of accommodation options available in Shelter Cove CA, catering to different budgets and preferences. From luxurious ocean-view resorts to cozy bed-and-breakfast establishments and self-catering holiday homes, there is something for everyone.

What is the best time to visit Shelter Cove?

The best time to visit Shelter Cove CA depends on what you want to do. For outdoor activities like hiking and beachcombing, the summer months are ideal. However, if you’re interested in whale watching, the peak seasons are December to February and May to June. Always remember that weather conditions can change rapidly, so it’s advisable to check the forecast and prepare accordingly.

How do I get to Shelter Cove CA?

Shelter Cove CA is fairly remote and is best accessed by car. It’s about a four-hour drive north of San Francisco. Be aware that some of the roads are winding and can be quite challenging. For those not wishing to drive, the closest major airports are in San Francisco and Sacramento, and from there you can rent a car or arrange a shuttle service.

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