beach hop: mussel rock park
When people think of beaches, usually they think of a gently sloping sand bar that has a massive drop off maybe 10 feet into the water.
Mussel Rock Park isn't really like that. Marked by its distinctive cliffs that drop off on to a flat strip of sand, there isn't much space to walk during high tide, but as the waves roll back, local fishers find a comfortable spot to sit.
When you pull into the parking lot, you'll find that it's not a stereotypical Californian beach. This particular breed of beach can be identified by the rocky cliffs weathering the constant slams of waves, that eventually taper off into a long flat plateau of sand with waves gently creeping up and down the shoreline.
Fishers dot the coastline, planting their feet into the ground and hurling their line into the oncoming waves in hopes of a catch. People of all races and origins come to the beach to fish (and crab, but we'll get to that later), some with their entire families in tents. Both men and women can be seen casting for a chance, with even some kids taking part.
The hike down to the beach isn't exactly trivial. From the parking lot it winds down a pretty steep slope for later enjoyment, then you walk maybe 5 more minutes before happening upon a set of rock steps.
When you reach these rock steps, you'll be able to see the coastline extending up north towards San Francisco.
The shit-stained Mussel Rock, which is the standout feature of the park, sits just off the coast. While it may seem small, American writer John McPhee said it would have been the equivalent of a three story building before the San Andreas Fault split it off from the coast.
As you walk through the park, you'll notice rows of houses dotting the cliffs. Personally, I'd be terrified if I was living up there, but I'm sure the view of the ocean they get when they wake up more than makes up for it.
Viewing the sunset here is pretty easy — the lack of visitors at around sunset hours is pretty minimal. The biggest enemy is probably the strong winds that batter the shoreline, and your face, as you try to find a good place to take a picture.
Watch the tides, and the fishermen as they cast their lines. Sit back, and enjoy the crash of the waves.