McNears Beach Park is a favorite spot for kayakers and stand up paddlers. Located along the San Rafael shoreline in a sheltered cove, the park’s sandy shoreline provides a scenic launching point for exploration of San Pablo Bay, including China Camp State Park located just northwest of McNears Beach. The park is owned and managed by Marin County Parks.
McNears Beach offers a long, narrow sandy shoreline. The primary beach access point is located next to the pool, where an accessible beach mat provides a firm surface to cross the beach to the water. Boaters may wish to bring a dolly to help get their boats from the parking lot to the beach.
The beach does become inaccessible at low tide due to mudflats. The beach located south of the parking lot provides better tidal coverage.
From Highway 101 in San Rafael, take the Central San Rafael exit east on 2nd Street. 2nd Street merges with 3rd Street, which turns into Point San Pedro Road. Follow Point San Pedro Road, turn right at Cantera Way, and follow to the large parking lot at the end. The street address is 201 Cantera Way.
McNears Beach offers a large surface parking lot with over 100 spaces. Typically there is ample parking on all but the busiest weekends.
There is an entrance fee and Park hours vary seasonally – please check the park website for information.
There is a large restroom located near the pool with changing rooms, lockers, and showers. Portable restrooms near the fishing pier and south shore are unisex and accessible.
McNears Beach Park is a 55-acre park owned and managed by Marin County Parks. It features mature landscaping, picnic areas, a swimming pool and snack bar (summer months), sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, expansive lawns, and a popular fishing pier.
There is a paved, level path from the parking lot towards the swimming pool that leads to a narrow beach. There is a mobi-mat from the pathway that leads to the high tide line.
Always be aware of tides before launching from McNears Beach! The beach can become inaccessible at low tide due to extensive offshore mudflats. The beach located south of the parking lot provides better tidal coverage.
Permitted hunting is allowed within the San Pablo Bay Wildlife Area, located approximately two miles northwest of McNears Beach. See the State Fish and Wildlife Service website for more information. Boaters wishing to cross San Pablo Bay will cross a shipping channel approximately one mile away. Boaters must always avoid impeding large vessels in shipping channels.
High quality marsh habitat exists along the shoreline north and south of the park which supports the endangered Ridgway’s rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. Do not land in the marshes and do not disturb rails by entering narrow channels during high tides.
Access to the Marin Islands is prohibited as it provides nesting habitat for seabirds and herons and egrets. Getting close to birds during nesting season can scare birds off their nest which can lead to the death of chicks.
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 800 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.
Marin County Parks offers education and naturalist programs, including some by kayak. Visit their website for more details.
Marin County Parks