Your Guide to Bay Area Beaches

Hitting the beach in San Francisco? We want in! You can count on Champion Charter Bus to provide a comfortable ride to any kind of group beach trip you can dream up. Grad bashes and sports team bonding, weddings and company outings—we’ve serviced them all, and we’ll gladly assemble the perfect fleet for you.

Give our 24/7 team a call at 415-226-7968 for more information about your personalized bus rental, and read on to learn more about the top San Francisco beaches!

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Plan Your Beach Trip

Consider Champion Charter Bus your go-to transportation provider for group beach trips around the Bay. Whether you’re an out-of-towner beach bumming it during a weekend tour or a local looking to soak up some sun with your buds, we’ve got the perfect ride waiting for you.

We have access to a wide variety of motorcoaches to suit all sorts of groups. From pint-sized minibuses for your 18- to 25-person picnic, to charter buses that can carry 56 passengers and all their coolers, blankets, and other gear, we’ve got you covered. Even if you have specific amenity requests, just let us know. We’ll hook you up with onboard WiFi so your social sharers can post their Gram-worthy photos, reclining seats so your mid-trip nappers can catch some z’s, TV screens so your film buffs can screen Jaws en route, and anything else you might need.

Our 24/7 team of specialists will be more than happy to walk you through the reservation process when you call 415-226-7968. Reach out today for a free, personalized quote!

What First-Time SF Beachgoers Should Know

You may be in sunny California, but a majority of the waterways here are freezing cold and are prone to dangerous rip currents. That’s not to say your group can’t enjoy a nice picnic on the shore, a leisurely stroll in sight of the Pacific, or a few selfies and fresh air away from the city bustle. Just know that unless you’re in town during a heatwave—or you’re with a group of experienced swimmers—sunbathing and swimming probably won’t be in the cards for your San Francisco beach trip.

And another thing—a lot of beaches in California (around the Bay Area, especially) are clothing-optional. Before you embark you may want to do some digging on your desired beach’s policies, just so everyone knows what to expect.

Alright, let’s hit the beach.

Beaches of Greater San Francisco

view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach in San Francisco. 3 beachgoers walk the sand in the foreground, with the bridge looming in the background

Baker Beach

Great for: locals who hate driving and tourists dying to get the perfect photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Address: Gibson Road, San Francisco, CA 94129

Welcome to the most popular beach in San Francisco proper: Baker Beach! It’s part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area known as the Presidio, which means this beach is one of the best spots in the city to view the iconic bridge. That’s why bridal parties and dog-walkers alike flock to this stretch of shore for photo ops and aesthetic outings. Baker Beach gets crowded quickly on sunny days. (Not to mention the fact that the north side is the most accessible nude beach to downtown San Francisco.)

Of course, the popularity and spectacular views come at a cost, even if the lots are free to the public. That is to say parking at Baker Beach can be hard to come by—especially on busy, sunny days. If the lots nearest the beach are full, you’ll have to ask your driver to drop you off on Gibson Road and park near the recreational fields at Fort Winfield Scott.

five friends gather around a fire pit at Ocean Beach in San Francisco

Ocean Beach

Great for: s’mores connoisseurs seeking a little elbow room.

Address: Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94121

Imagine you’re looking at an aerial map of San Francisco. See the flat edge of the peninsula facing the Pacific? Most of that is Ocean Beach, a 3.5-mile stretch of sand between the Lands End Lookout and the San Francisco Zoo. Compared to other beaches in the area, this one is long and wide—meaning your group is more likely to have space to stretch out without crowds cramping your style.

Looking for sights you can’t find anywhere else (and frankly are a little unsettling)? Hit up the stretch around Ortega Street when the tide is very low. You’ll be able to peep at what’s left of “King Philip,” a shipwreck buried in the sand just offshore. While it once was a 19th-century clipper with a storied history of mutinies and carting goods around the Bay, now it’s one of the 20 ships that wrecked here between 1850 and 1926.

Another major draw to Ocean Beach: the 16 fire rings, where you can have bonfires between 6 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. from March 1 to October 31. The fire rings might be hard to come by on busy weekends, but if you get there before 6 p.m. on a weekday, you should be able to claim a few. Even better—the fire rings are within walking distance of the beachfront’s biggest, most motorcoach-friendly parking lot, so you should have no problem lugging your marshmallows and blankets between your ride and your campfire.

a man and his dog run in the surf at Fort Funston Beach in San Francisco

Fort Funston Beach

Great for: dog watchers and aerial daredevils.

Address: Fort Funston Rd, San Francisco, CA 94132

Care for some dog-spotting? If so, Fort Funston Beach is the place to be. Sure, many beaches in Greater San Francisco allow dogs, but this harbor-defense-installation-turned-coastal-oasis has the most off-leash areas in town. The beach itself is enclosed on both sides by cliffs, so you can let Fido run free without fear of him wandering off.

One thing you should know is that FFB is usually very windy. While this might hinder your picnic plans, it makes Fort Funston one of the best places in the country to go hang-gliding. Whether you’re here with a group of adrenaline junkies or you just want to sit back and watch from the fort’s many hiking trails, let Champion Charter Bus take you there in a motorcoach with no shortage of room for all your gear. Just tell your driver to drop you off near The Fellow Feathers of Fort Funston Hang Gliding Club parking lot, and you should be able to get to the launch point or the trails with ease.

Beaches North of the Golden Gate

the sun rises over Black Sands Beach In Sausalito, California

Black Sands Beach

Great for: those who seek peace and quiet, but don’t mind a hike.

Address: Black Sands Beach Trail, Mill Valley, CA 94941

Hear that? The rush of the ocean, the blustery wind, and not much else? That’s all you’ll hear once you step foot on Black Sands Beach (the one in Sausalito, not Whitethorn). It’s about a 5-minute drive from the Marin Headlands Vista Point—one of the more popular lookouts over the Golden Gate Bridge—but you’d hardly know it based on the little traffic this hideaway sees.

Visitors should note that Black Sands Beach is clothes-optional (though few beachgoers actually go in the nude), and the black sand for which the beach is named isn’t particularly soft and powdery, so be careful as you walk. On the bright side, the heavy and coarse grains are too heavy for the wind to pick up, so a strong gust won’t turn your picnic lunch into literal sandwiches.

A heads up: the long, winding staircase that connects the parking lot to the beach is very steep, which means the beach itself is not exactly accessible. If you’re travelling with beachgoers with mobility concerns, you can still take in the ocean views from Headlands Lookout near the parking lot or take the mile-and-a-half drive over to the more mobility-friendly Rodeo Beach. And if you need a ride between here and there, don’t sweat it. Champion Charter Bus can provide an ADA-compliant vehicle at no extra charge, so everyone can enjoy their beach day with ease.

View from the lookout point over Muir Beach in California. A railed-off outcropping fills the foreground while the rocky Pacific coast lies in the background

Muir Beach

Great for: weary hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Address: Shoreline Hwy, Stinson Beach, CA 94970

Muir Beach is a 45-minute drive from San Francisco if you cross the Golden Gate and an hour drive if you take the cheaper toll across the the Oakland-Bay Bridge. A lot of its visitors are would-be Muir Woods hikers who forgot you need a reservation to hike there. (And yes, you need a reservation to get into Muir Woods National Monument. If you’re planning to hit the trail before or after you hit the beach, make sure you book in advance.)

That being said, this cozy little cove has a lot to offer, even if you have all your paperwork squared away. After a group hike through Muir Woods, an ascent of Mount Tamalpais, or just a quick out-and-back to Pirate Coves, everyone can soak their aching feet in the calm, cold waters of the Pacific, strike up a bonfire, and watch the casual surfers on the waves.

Beaches South of the City

A surfer zooms through a barrel wave near Maverick's Beach in California

Maverick’s Beach

Great for: surfers who can hang ten with the best of them.

Address: Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

If you’re active in the surfing community, we probably don’t need to explain the appeal of this beach to you.

This place is home to Maverick’s Surf Contest, which has taken place nearly every November to March since 1999. It’s taken many forms throughout the years—from an all-day, star-studded invitational to season-long video performance contests—and has made this beach a household name for surfheads worldwide.

So why Maverick’s? Well, there’s a spot about a quarter mile offshore from the Air Force military station where the waves get huge. There’s a unique dip in the ocean floor—aka “The Cauldron”—that makes barrelling, 30-foot waves a regular sight in the colder months. These waves are considered some of the most dangerous in the world, so surf at your own risk.

If you’d rather wave-watch from the sidelines, no worries! Bring your binoculars and set up camp at Pillar Point. Whether you’re here to catch the surf contest or just to take in the views, we recommend booking a shuttle service to and from the airport or the harbor, as parking near Maverick’s Beach is very limited.

aerial view of a gray whale and her calf swimming in the open ocean near Cray Whale Cove State Beach in California

Gray Whale Cove State Beach

Great for: whale-watchers and springtime beachgoers.

Address: Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacifica, CA 94044

Yep, there’s whales! Pacific gray whales, to be exact—an endangered species whose seasonal presence gives this cove its kinder namesake (if you see signs for “Devil’s Slide Beach” while you’re here, you’re still in the right place).

If you’re in the Bay Area in the springtime, we recommend swinging by GWC. For one thing, that’s when the whales are here, resting with their calves during their northward migration. You’ll also find the bluffs overlooking the beach are washed in yellow as the wildflowers start to bloom—a gorgeous sight you won’t want to miss.

Reserve Your San Francisco Beach Transportation

Whether you’re planning a beachside wedding, a corporate retreat, or a vacation with the extended family, we’ve got your back. With a Champion Charter Bus rental on your side, no one will have to worry about reserving rideshares, arranging carpools, or cramming all your beach gear into the back of your friend’s Prius. Instead, let a trained professional take the wheel and make your San Francisco beach trip simple, from beginning to end.

Don’t believe us? Contact a reservation specialist at 415-226-7968 today. We’ll be more than happy to walk you through your motorcoach options, help you build an itinerary, and offer a free, no-obligation quote tailored to your Bay Area travel needs!

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