Tiny Bodega Head in beautiful Bodega Bay has long lured visitors to its dramatic cliff-above-ocean setting and excellent vantages for spotting migrating gray whales. But visit on a winter day right before sunset and you’ll be treated to fewer crowds and a glorious technicolor dream show, powered by nature. See it by hiking Bodega Head Trail’s mellow 2-mile loop. The coastal path slinks along the side of hulking cliffs with 360-degree views sweeping from the spiky sea-stacks rising along the Sonoma Coast to the placid luster of Bodega Harbor and tranquil Tomales Bay. There’s also a grand view of Tomales Point. But it’s the colors that captivate at sunset, painting the scene like Monet might have. As you round the loop, continue the feast for the eyes as the sky becomes periwinkle and Tomales Bay deepens to navy with night falling. (If you visit during a full moon, you’ll be treated to a stunning two-fer view: the sun setting to the west as the moon rises in the east.) Towards the end of the hike there’s a lone bench overlooking some of the best scenery. Take your seat. Sunset is show-time at Bodega Head!
TIP: Spud Point Crab Company (1860 Westshore Road) en route to Bodega Head, has won first place the past eight years for its chowder in the Annual Bodega Bay Chowder Day; stop by prior to your hike. (Spud closes at 5:00 p.m.) If wine-tasting sounds good, time your hike so you can visit Sonoma Coast Vineyard’s (SVC) brand-new tasting room, set along Bodega Bay (555 Highway 1; SVC closes at 6:00 p.m.). Their 2013 sauvignon blanc is delicious, their pinots excellent, and the botrytis chardonnay is a sweet treat.
From Hwy. 1 in Bodega Bay, make a left on East Shore Rd. Go half a mile and turn right on West Shore Rd. Go another 3.5 miles to Bodega Head’s west parking lot. The hike starts on the Bodega Head Trail, behind the restrooms on the south side of the parking area. No dogs.