When the sun shines in Humboldt County it’s time to head outside. Locals know that vitamin D is a precious commodity between the long overcast seasons and thick marine fog layers that waft in most evenings and break away in the late mornings. One of the best spots on the coast line to appreciate warmer days is this easily accessed Moonstone Beach.
North of Mckinleyville off Hwy 101 at the Westhaven exit, visitors will find Moonstone Beach with it’s diverse offerings of activities. Little River flows in the the ocean here, creating an interesting terrain where fresh water meets the waves. Be prepared to kick off your shoes to cross the shallow current if you wish to head south for a long and leisurely walk.
If exploring cliffs and caves sounds appealing, head north on foot to the towering rocks. The large sandstone face to the immediate right is a favorite with rope climbers. Further down the cliffs turn towards the water and you can peak in to small caves and investigate all of the wonderful mossy turns.
When the tide is low it is safe to continue past the beach proper to the north. Here even more caves and tide pools await to dazzle visitors. Ocean front properties post atop the cliffs and seasonal waterfalls trickle down creating a richly layered sight for the eyes.
The seaside flora and fauna are multi textured with barnacles and mossy rocks to climb. Birds skim the waves and you will find many animal prints in the sand. With a little luck, you might even see some marine mammals such as whales, sea lions, or river seals. And of course, there are many friendly doggies running back and forth.
Continue north far enough and you will arrive at the adjacent and more private Luffenholtz Beach. Here clothing is optional and nude sunbathing is known to happen, yet is rare, because average temperatures are usually in the mid to low 60s. Be aware of the tide if you venture this way. You don’t want to be cut off from Moonstone and have to take the long way back to your vehicle on the main road, which would mean lots of up and downhill trekking.
Back at the main beach, take a moment to relax and soak in the surroundings. Surfers, kite flyers, photographers, frisbee tossers, picnickers, beach combers, dog owners, and sand castle builders are all a fine part of this laid-back vibe. Even on a busy day when the small parking lot is full, you won’t find the beach too crowded. Everyone is always friendly and enjoying themselves. It’s just enough activity to make one feel appreciative and connected to this wonderful outdoor community.