This past weekend my friend Tyler and I drove 2 hours north of San Francisco to Point Reyes for a quintessential Northern California day along the coast. After white knuckling it around the twists and turns of the roads getting there (and Tyler making us pull over for a roadside COMPANY CONFERENCE CALL halfway through the drive, #SchedulingMishaps), we arrived at Point Reyes Lighthouse for one of the best views of the mighty Pacific I have seen since moving to San Francisco.
The drive to the lighthouse seemed endless -- we drove through misty redwood forests, passed dozens of rolling green fields specked with grazing cows (this bit of scenery looked incredibly similar to Irish countryside), and took hairpin turns around steep coastal cliffs. When we embarked there was a freezing cold drizzle, massive gusts of wind, and a thick fog that seemed to stretch for miles -- all obviously not conducive to whale spotting or lighthouse exploring. Miraculously, as we began hiking down the steps the fog thinned and ah! - whales as far as the eye could see.
After spending all winter in Baja California mating and having babies, Pacific Grey whales travel north to Alaska for the summer. We spotted at least a dozen different pods -- their whale tails popping up from the whitecaps of the waves and water spraying from their blowholes made them pretty easy to spot. There was a very enthusiastic older couple standing next to us whose chorus of "I see one!! I see two!!" and "Look! Look! Right there!!" had Tyler and I swiveling our heads trying to take in all the whales (there was also clapping and jumping up and down on my part -- enthusiasm for the whales was high). Unfortunately, all the pictures we took of the whales look like nothing as they weren't breeching out of the water (Grey whales apparently way more chill than the ever-jumping Humpback). Still, the number of whales we spotted was way higher than I expected and it was super cool to witness this annual migration.
In my excitement to get down to see the whales, I failed to notice the incline and abundance of stairs leading down the lighthouse. It is rather strenuous and something to keep in mind before heading here -- however, the lighthouse itself, the views, and whales are completely worth it.
We took a different route on our way home and stopped in Stinson Beach for a late lunch. There are a bounty of tiny seaside towns in Marin, all with quaint restaurants and cozy-looking inns -- it reminded Tyler and I of little North Carolina towns we would drive through on family vacations (to draw an East Coast comparison). I would definitely recommend allotting time for lunch or dinner in one of these cute little towns.
Point Reyes makes for a perfect day trip from San Francisco and is definitely the best spot to do some whale watching during the January - April migration season -- krill-er views right and left.