With 2.5 miles of sandy beach, Crown Beach is a popular launch and destination for paddlers and boardsailors. Frequent summer winds make this a popular launch and learning location for kiteboards and windsurfers. On calmer days, the beach provides a scenic launching point for paddlers to explore the Alameda waterfront. Crown Beach also provides a great launch or destination for more experienced paddlers crossing the Bay to San Francisco.
Crown Beach is popular with paddlers and sailboarders alike. With 2.5 miles of beach, parking, restrooms, picnic areas, and shower towers, Crown Beach’s facilities provide high quality water access. Boaters may wish to bring a dolly to help get their boats from the parking lot to the beach.
A concessionaire – Boardsports – provides rental equipment and lessons for kiteboarders on weekends during the spring and daily during the summer. Boardsports also offers windsurf and kayak equipment rentals. Boardsailing is concentrated in the central portion of the beach.
From San Francisco, take the Bay Bridge to I-580 east and I-980 (downtown Oakland). Exit I-980 at 11th/12th Streets, go through several traffic lights and make a left onto 5th Street. This will take you to Broadway and the Oakland/Alameda Tube. Once through the Tube, you’ll be on Webster Street. Webster will dead end at Central Avenue. Turn left onto Central and right onto Eighth Street to reach the Crown Beach entrance. Turn right on Central then turn left on McKay Ave to reach the Crab Cove entrance.
There are several large parking areas located along Crown Beach. These parking areas have a seasonal parking fee and hours vary seasonally – please check the park website for information. Street parking is also available along many portions of the beach.
There are nine restrooms located along the beach. Near the Boardsports concession building launch there is one, portable, unisex restroom. In an adjacent parking lot there is another portable, unisex restroom. Near the bathhouse there are three unisex restrooms.
The East Bay Regional Parks District provides a variety of shoreside facilities, including a bathhouse with changing rooms, the Crab Cove Visitor Center, mature landscaping, picnic areas, sand volleyball courts, expansive lawns, and walking paths. Shower towers are located near the bathhouse and the Boardsports concession building.
Crab Cove Visitor Center, located on McKay Avenue within Crown Beach, contains exhibits and aquariums highlighting flora and fauna of San Francisco Bay and other marine areas. Naturalist-guided programs for school groups and other organized groups are available in the Crab Cove Visitor Center Wednesday through Friday by advance reservation.
The District also offers “Memory Lane“, a self-guided trail that leads you from the time Native Americans lived in the area to the present. The tour is available via mobile device or a brochure in the visitor center.
Paved parking lots lead to accessible paths to the edge of the sand. No acccessible path occurs across the sandy beach; however, beach wheelchairs are provided free of charge from the East Bay Regional Park District. In addition, there is an intertidal ADA accessible ramp located near the Crab Cove Visitor Center.
No shipping lanes occur in the immediate vicinity of the shoreline; however, boaters wishing to cross San Francisco Bay will cross a shipping channel approximately one mile away. Boaters must always avoid impeding large vessels in shipping channels.
There is an emergency phone is located near the Boardsports concession building. Emergency situations at the site are relatively rare, despite the high number of users. Boarders typically will help each other out when someone experiences equipment malfunctions or other issues. Additionally, winds tend to be on-shore, which pushes boardsailors back towards shore in cases of equipment failure or inexperience.
At the east end of the park is the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, which harbors endangered birds and other salt marsh wildlife. Launching and landing in this area is prohibited to facilitate ongoing restoration work and boaters should keep recommended distances from sensitive habitats. Crab Cove at the north end of the beach is a marine reserve where all plant and animal life is protected.
The Water Trail recommends boaters maintain a buffer distance of 650 feet from nesting colonies of birds, 50 feet from ridgway’s rail habitat and 820 feet from large groups of floating waterbirds. To help you visualize what these distances mean, 100 feet is approximately the distance of six sea kayaks.