Photographer’s Guide to Point Reyes

Drake’s Beach

Drake’s beach is one of the most popular beaches at Point Reyes. It is more sheltered than Point Reyes Beach, without the wind and pounding waves. There’s a small visitor center, restrooms, and a very good cafe. Do not miss the cafe. Seriously. My wife and I have driven out here just for the food. It is all locally grown, mostly organic, and delicious. During whale watching season, this is also where you meet the shuttle bus if you want to go out to the lighthouse.

If you head left down the beach, there is a series of white cliffs which can make a nice backdrop to beach photos.

There are frequently surfers in the water here. With a zoom lens you have a chance of capturing them on a wave, although I’ve never seen particularly large waves at this spot.

Twilight can be very beautiful because the colors in the sky will reflect off the wet sand. On a clear evening, it is worth staying until well after the sun goes down.

Late in the afternoon, there’s often a beautiful atmospheric effect as the sun interacts with the the moisture-laden air. The best spot to catch this is on the road to Drake’s Beach, before it drops down the hill. If conditions are right, the sun will be shining through air which is full of mist from the wind and waves, and the whole scene will glow bright orange.

Shorebirds on Drake’s Beach

Photo of birds on beach

This wasn’t very far from the Drake’s Beach Visitor Center, taken facing east along the beach. The little birds were running around, dodging waves, and they let me get close enough to capture them without a huge zoom lens. I like how the white cliffs serve as a backdrop. Toward sunset they can pick up a nice orange glow.

Sunset Over Drake’s Beach

Photo of beach

This image was taken near the Visitor Center at Drake’s beach, facing west. It was late November and Venus was up in the sky, but it was too far to the left to get it in this framing. It would be worth trying to time a visit here to coincide with a sliver moon.

Point Reyes Headlands

Photo of headlands with birds flying

This shot was captured from the road down to Drake’s Beach. The waves & wind can kick up a good mist by late afternoon. I’ve caught it at different times of day, and it can be interesting to see how the color keeps changing. When the setting sun cuts through it, the whole scene lights up. I happened to get lucky with the flock of birds, which were sitting on a pond during my earlier shots.