Mendocino Coast Activities
Surf Motel & Gardens is located in the heart of Mendocino's beautiful rugged coast, which offers many opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, beachcombing, horseback riding, whale watching, bicycling and more. We are within walking distance of trails along the cliffs overlooking our Noyo Bay and Harbor.
Parks and Gardens
We are located within a short distance of some great parks, including:
- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: the gardens feature indigenous plants, including the native rhododendrons that blanket the area. Manicured formal gardens, a dense coastal pine forest, fern-covered canyons, diverse plant collections, and flower-filled coastal bluffs overlooking the blue Pacific Ocean are among the many attractions. Whale fanciers can take shelter in the Cliff House to watch winter and spring migrations, bird watchers will delight in the over 100 species of birds that live in or visit the Gardens annually. You can also take your dog on a leash into the Gardens!
- MacKerricher State Park: this wonderful park features a freshwater lake (stocked with fish), surrounded by trails with great birdwatching. There is also a boardwalk overlooking a harbor seal-pupping nursery, and an old haul road that goes for miles along the ocean. You can even ride a horse on the beach at MacKerricher.
- Jughandle State Reserve: this 769-acre park features a 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called the Ecological Staircase. Time, geological forces and climate have all interacted here to form a staircase of distinct ecosystems and associated soils, culminating in the unique Pygmy Forest.
- Russian Gulch State Park: hiking and horse trails through redwood forests. There is a great waterfall a few miles out, and a blowhole along the ocean trails.
- Mendocino Headlands State Park, including Big River Estuary: the Mendocino Headlands make a great spot for whalewatching, and you can sometimes see the whales very close to shore. The park also includes quite a few miles of the Big River watershed, over 12 miles upriver. You can hike or bike the old road along the river, or take a kayak or canoe up the river.
- Point Cabrillo Light Station: this old lighthouse has been recently restored to its original gleam, including the operational Third-Order Fresnel lens.
- Jackson Demonstration State Forest: 50,000 acres of redwoods to the east of Fort Bragg. Crisscrossed with dirt roads and horse trails, you can find all manner of outdoor adventures in the Jackson Forest. There is a great waterfall in a grove of virgin redwoods at Chamberlain Creek.
- Van Damme State Park: hike through redwoods in a fern canyon. There is a great beach here, from which kayakers and abalone divers embark.
- Montgomery Woods: an hour away on a country road, but it contains some of the largest trees in the world , including several over 365 feet! If you are looking for the quintessential California Redwoods experience, this is the place!
- Stornetta Ranch Preserve: an hour south near Point Arena. This preserve features a 1-mile walk out to a waterfall that drops into the ocean, and there are great coastal vistas that showcase the Point Arena Lighthouse.
- Skunk Train: Except for the passengers’ high-tech cameras and modern garb, a time traveler from the last century would feel quite at home riding California Western Railroad’s Skunk Train. The view from the restored rail cars is pretty much unchanged: towering trees, deer drinking from the Noyo River, an isolated fisherman’s cabin peeking from the forest. With occasional whistles as it chugs through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train follows the coastal "Redwood Route" as it has since 1885.
- Whalewatching and Sport Fishing: there are a number of sportfishing outfits that will take you out whalewatching or sport fishing, depending on the season.
- Noyo Bluffs Trails: you can walk with your dog from the motel to the bluff trails above the Noyo River and Harbor.
- Abalone: when in season, this delight is plentiful along the Mendocino Coast.
- Hiking and Mountain Biking: there is a vast network of trails suitable for hiking (and most of it for biking) in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest and the connected state parks: MacKerricher State Park, Jughandle State Reserve, Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino Headlands State Park, and Van Damme State Park.
- Horseback Riding: there are several outfits that will take you riding, along the beach or in the redwoods.
- Birdwatching: because of the diversity of ecosystems here (ocean, rivers, forests), there are a lot of different kinds of birds here, including: brown pelicans, blue herons, owls, oyster catchers, hummingbirds, cormorants, geese, ducks, and others.
- Kayaking: besides ocean kayaking, there are several navigable rivers in the area, including Noyo River and Big River.
- Artistic Treats: in addition to the Mendocino Art Center, you will find galleries in Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and other smaller towns.
Helpful Web Sites
- Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce
- MendocinoFun.com: the Discriminating Guide to Adventure on the Mendocino Coast
- Mendocino Coast Chamber Whale Festivals
- Jughandle State Reserve
- MacKerricher State Park
- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
- Point Cabrillo Light Station & Preserve
- Richochet Ridge Ranch (Horseback riding)
- Skunk Train
- Fort Bragg.com
- Mendocino Art Center
- Mendocino Coast Photographer Guild & Gallery