Point Bonita Lighthouse, Marin Headlands

by Heguiberto on August 6, 2012

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Point Bonita Lighthouse

Point Bonita Lighthouse

My niece Juliana who lives in Virginia came over to spend a few days with us recently. She’s been here few times before so she’d done all the touristy stuff in San Francisco. I like that because it forces us to push ourselves and expand our horizons in terms of visiting different places in the Bay Area. Last year when she came we took a day trip to the Marshall Store, a hole in the wall place in Tomales Bay where they sell delicious fresh oysters served in many different ways. That trip was a complete success, and not something that we’d likely have done without our adventurous visitor.

This time around I chose a visit to Point Bonita and Lighthouse of the same name. They’re just across the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin Headlands. It’s part of the Golden Gate National Parks.

Oddly for us, this was a food-free afternoon: just sightseeing. I had wanted to see the lighthouse for a while. Right after we relocated to San Francisco, we tried a visit but it was closed for renovation. That left us with “only” the gorgeous surroundings to admire: the GG Bridge, the inlet to the Bay, the Pacific, stunning mountains, exotic wildflowers, and so on; but no lighthouse. What a disappointment ;)

Juliana and I enjoying the wind and fog

Juliana and I enjoying the wind and fog

gorgeous rugged coastline in the Marin Headlands

gorgeous rugged coastline in the Marin Headlands

Steven and Ju admiring the hazy Bay entrance

Steven and Ju admiring the hazy Bay entrance

purple thistles

hardy purple thistles

The day we went was very foggy. It would restlessly whip along the mountains and occasionally just disappear, leaving a beautiful bright blue sky in a non-stop, off-and-on fashion; hiding the surroundings, then revealing them magically. San Francisco and the Bridge kept appearing and disappearing in this chilly haze.

This time of year it gets very dry so all the flowers and grasses from early spring were shrunken husks with the exception of a few thistle plants, various herbs, hardy trees and some imported coast-hugging succulents. The air was infused with aromas of the sea and plants such as the Monterrey cypress, wild sage and eucalyptus.

can you make out the sea lions half-heartedly sunning themselves on the rocks

can you make out the sea lions half-heartedly sunning themselves on the rocks

this is lovely

this is lovely

ocean filled with cormorants

silver ocean filled with cormorants

amazing plants hugging the sheer rock

amazing plants hugging the sheer rock

I've read somewhere that these colorful succulents are in fact imported weeds killing off native plants

I've read somewhere that these colorful succulents are in fact imported weeds killing off native plants

We spotted the ubiquitous seagulls, but also frolicking sea lions, a hawk, tons of cormorants and several beautiful pelicans nesting on the scarps of the cliffs. One of the rocks just off the coast, housing for hundreds of cormorants, had accumulated so much guano that it was totally white at its peak. Nice contrast with the black stone and the grayness of the ocean.

cormorant haven

cormorant haven

reading ourselves for the descent to the lighthouse

readying ourselves for the descent to the lighthouse

the three of us all thought this rock was totally cool--sort of like dinosaur skin or something

the three of us all thought this rock was totally cool--sort of like dinosaur skin or something

that suspension bridge is totally awesome

that suspension bridge is totally awesome

the Golden Gate from Point Bonita

the Golden Gate from Point Bonita

The coastal drive from the park entrance near the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge takes you past remains of a ruined fort and a military base. We stopped a few times to check the area out. Pretty cool!

Finally we reached the lighthouse. Point Bonita Lighthouse was built on the top of a lone rock at the entrance of San Francisco Bay, partially connected to the continent. To get there you must walk down a steep hill, over a bridge, through a narrow, low-ceilinged hand-carved tunnel and then over another, suspension bridge. Here’s more info on the lighthouse.

I love it here

I love it here

Where do you like to take out-of-town visitors to show them the local sights?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Devaki @ weavethousandflavors August 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

So great to see pics of you both and Juliana looking so well :) What a great trip and what a nice way to get out of the rut and enjoyones own back yard like a tourist! :)

chow :) DEVAKI @ weavethousandflavors

Juliana August 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

The pictures turned out really great!!What a beautiful place! Thank you again, I had an amazing time as usual!!

tasteofbeirut August 8, 2012 at 2:46 am

I had been several times to Frisco to visit my bro, but never once made it to the lighthouse; I get reminded when I visit you here how awesome this city and state truly is!! It shocks me that I actually decided to leave California for Texas~
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Tom @ Tall Clover Farm August 13, 2012 at 6:51 am

The Bay Area never ceases to amaze me in so many ways, one in particular is how passionate San Franciscans are about their incomparable coastline and environs, and protecting it all. Your photos capture that beauty as well as the joy of discovery and sharing that with the ones you love. Wonderful post!
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