A Guide to Tomales Bay

By dchulst on September 6th 2017

Only a short, scenic and twisty trip from the hustle of San Francisco, lies the true California, coastal treasure of Tomales Bay. Approximately fifteen miles-long and one mile-wide, Tomales Bay was once home to the indigenous Coast Miwok people. Today the bay now plays host to a variety of aquatic recreational activities, not to mention home to California’s largest oyster production beginning in 1875.

Whether you’re interested in a day of sea kayaking, sailing, hiking or simply devouring some of the locally produced bounty, the Tomales Bay area is a wealth of riches that won’t disappoint. A place were the celebration of nature and great food seem to coexist in a way you don’t encounter every day.

When it comes to food, oysters seem to be the star of the show. While not loving oysters may not be a crime, it’s certainly frowned upon if you’re visiting this mollusk mecca. That said, if shucking oysters sitting on the very water they were pulled from sounds good then by all means stop by the legendary Hog Island and Tomales Bay Oyster Company.

Hog Island planted their first oyster seed in 1983 when their motto was “Strong backs and weak minds.” Well, they were clearly sandbagging because today they’re considered one of the premier producers of certified sustainable shellfish, harvesting over 3.5 million mouth-watering mollusks a year. As a true testament of commitment to their backyard, they’re also a Certified B Corporation and California Benefit Corporation. Achieving such designations require meeting rigorous standards related to social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Make sure to reserve a picnic table, order a bucket-o-beers and proceed to lay down a shuckin’ and grillin’ oyster fiesta you won’t soon forget.

Just down the road you’d find the Tomales Bay Oyster Company (TBOC) which was established in 1909 and is the oldest continuously run shellfish farm in California. Like Hog Island, TBOC has worked diligently over the years to become increasingly more sustainable and minimize plastic waste in the waters. When it comes to farm-to-table experiences, you’ll be hard pressed to beat eating oysters being pulled and cleaned twenty-yards from your picnic table. The team at TBOC is a close knit group of hard working, dedicated aquafarmers and watching them go about their business as you enjoy their fruits just makes you smile.

Perhaps Tomales Bay’s greatest virtue is its charismatic blend of quintessential and picturesque New England maritime flare with the Golden State’s laid back, good vibrations. Beautifully dilapidated fishing boats and weathered, shingled cabins pepper the coastline, waving peacefully at the occasional surf wagon that drifts by. To really soak up the vibe rent a house for a weekend or a rustic yet luxurious cottage from Nick’s Cove right on the water. Nick’s Cove also has an award-winning restaurant that truly takes advantage of the areas abundant farms from both the land and sea. Bottom line, get up here some time. You won’t regret it.