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Del Mar Landing State Marine Reserve and California's Underwater Parks

Del Mar Landing State Marine Reserve

Del Mar Landing State Marine Reserve (SMR) is a marine protected area, or underwater park, that covers 0.22 square miles of Sonoma's coastal waters. It lies within the community of The Sea Ranch located about 2 miles south of the town of Gualala. This stretch of coast is characterized by tall bluffs, rocky shores, and sandy coves. Tide pools and beaches in the area are rich in marine life, and the coastal cliffs provide an excellent vantage point for spotting harbor seals and migrating whales. Del Mar Landing SMR, established in May 2010, modifies the pre-existing Del Mar Ecological Reserve to better protect nearshore finfish, abalone and their habitat.

Access to Del Mar Landing SMR

To get to this SMR, expect a short hike. Public access parking maintained by Sonoma County is available in two locations (the SMR is centered between the two). Please stay on marked public trails!

  • North of the SMR - park within Gualala Point Regional Park ($7) and follow the public Salal Trail to the ocean bluff, and then head south on the Bluff Trail (about .42 miles to the SMR); or
  • South of the SMR - park at Walk-On Beach public access parking lot (no fee to park) and follow the public trail to the ocean bluff, and then head north on the Bluff Trail (about .25 miles to the SMR).

Please note that The Sea Ranch is a community of private homes. All Sea Ranch roads, most facilities, and many trails are private, and for use only by owners, renters, and their guests.

Know before you go!

Please take only pictures and leave only footprints. Take of all marine life is prohibited in Del Mar Landing State Marine Reserve. For more in depth rules and regulations please visit:

In 2012, California became an international leader in ocean conservation by completing the first statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States. The network protects 16% of California's waters, provides a series of refuges for ocean creatures to recover and thrive, and gives residents and tourists places to fish, dive, surf and enjoy the benefits of a healthy coastal community.

More Information
About California's
Underwater Parks

Ocean Recreation Destinations

Today 124 MPAs stretch along the entire coast from Oregon to Mexico.

  • North Coast: 20 MPAs and 7 special closures
  • North-Central Coast: 25 MPAs and 6 special closures
  • Central Coast: 29 MPAs
  • South Coast: 50 MPAs and 2 special closures

California's MPAs protect a range of coastal habitats such as kelp forests, rocky reefs and coastal wetlands and many of them are fantastic destinations for outdoor adventures! There are many ways to enjoy these special places: you can swim, dive, surf, kayak, fish, watch birds and marine mammals or simply relax in nature. Just make sure you know the rules before you go!

For a brochure with local information, maps and regulations on the Del Mar Landing MPA, please visit http://californiampas.org/pubs/MPABrochures/DelMarBrochure.pdf

For a fact sheet on the Del Mar Landing MPA from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, please visit: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=91415&inline

Virtual Exploration of California's Underwater Parks!

Explore California's Underwater Parks (including Del Mar Landing SMR) without getting your feet wet through an online tour! The California Google MPA Tour features detailed descriptions of each of the state marine protected areas, National Marine Sanctuaries, and National Estuaries, with stunning photos and videos, and links to local "things to do" for your enjoyment and ease of vacation planning. Take a virtual tour of the MPAs along the North Central Coast of California, including Del Mar Landing by visiting:


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