Next day after visiting Big Basin Redwoods, we mostly stayed on the road heading south, but we had a nice memorable stop at Four Mile beach next to Santa Cruz. This is an official clothing-optional beach, as was designated on our bike map. It was recommended to us by Dan, the masseur from Burning Man who you might remember from my blogpost about acro-yoga in San Francisco. The beach looked beautiful already on our approach to it, and we could see just a couple of surfers there.
As we came down, the beach looked even more impressive, though we were not sure if it was 4 miles long… or where did the name come from?
Besides those few surfers, there were only some fishermen quite far out…
and lots of birds!
When we arrived, most birds moved from the sand onto the water, and we could see all beach covered in their footprints.
Then we noticed there also was an airplane! No, just cliffs that look like one 😉 The cliffs were full of birds too.
Gulls were the most numerous,
but there were many kinds of other sea- and shorebirds too, mostly grouped together. The photo below illustrates that indeed birds of a feather flock together.
Cormorants were probably the second largest group,
but there were many pelicans too.
This was a clear indicator of richness of the ocean waters by this beach. To a large extent, it was probably thanks to the kelp forests, of which we could literally only scratch the surface.
Low tide revealed the rocks covered with the densest mussel colony I had ever seen.
That’s a lot of seafood!
In just few minutes, Niko created this seafood bouquet. We didn’t feel adventurous to actually eat any of that, but it looked tasty 🙂
To make this place even more ecologically diverse, there was a freshwater pond too.
A sandpiper and a group of ducks were hanging out there away from the seabirds.
And aside from all these water birds, ravens apparently called this place their home too.
So as this young snake, whose species I couldn’t identify – any serpentologist among my readers?
With all this biodiversity, I thought that we only missed dolphins but Niko said it would be too much to ask from just a couple of hours at the beach… We played some frisbee, which went very well, probably because the beach is protected from wind by the cliffs.
And then we saw them! 4 dolphins were passing along the beach showing their back fins. I was happy and ran with my camera to the cliffs that went farther into the ocean to take a better picture, but they disappeared.
And then I saw something that I didn’t even expect to see – a sea otter!
It even showed me its cute swim on the back while opening a mussel with claws.
Then I felt like we could leave the place with enough memories…
And my boys were already checking out the map to see how we would get to the next campground… and we had to get dressed too.