Over half of Sonoma County's 53 miles of coastline is given over to public use, but it's often more scenic than recreational.
Visit with care. Sleeper waves can appear unexpectedly and turbulent, cold water make even such simple activities as surf play or climbing the rock outcroppings dangerous.
Situated between the Bodega Harbor and the ocean, Doran is a good place for picnics, sand castle-building, kite-flying or for just a stroll and calmer water on the harbor side is one of the safer places for swimming. The rock jetty near harbor mouth is a good spot for fishing or crabbing.
It's got all the great features photographers want, with the river pouring into the ocean, waves crashing against the offshore "sea stacks," harbor seals and their babies from March through June. In spring, you'll find wildflowers in the dunes, too.
Besides the tide pools and offshore rock formations, Gerstle Cove also has excellent examples of a geologic formation called "tafoni," a honeycomb-like rock pattern full of pits, knobs, ribs, and ridges.
It's a pretty, curving beach anytime but in the winter, the shorebreak is said to be one of the heaviest along the coast.
It was one of California's first underwater parks. Besides diving, it's a good place for photography, tidepooling and fishing.
Wright offers RV sites at the beach, many with an unobstructed ocean view.