BLACK SANDS BEACH

37° 49' 23.16'' N, 122° 30' 20.52'' W

Many pause to stare at the Golden Gate Bridge, yet just over the ridge lies another world easily overlooked; a serene beach with crashing waves and dark sand contrasted by bright white sea foam.  Large boulders enveloped in mussels and gooseneck barnacles protrude out of sand and water, leaving behind transient works of art at every crash.  Digging a centimeter into the sand, the penetrating dampness spanning the breadth of the beach leaves evidence of the tide and low lying shore's nightly baptism.

The tiny parking lot and long staircase down provide excellent deterrents to the masses, keeping the beauty of this plot worth the patience and extra few steps.  Head to the far ends of the beach behind the shelter of the boulders dappling the landscape to find the most secluded spot, complete with sea spray and crashing waves, as well as the occasional seal head popping up between breaks.  As always, it proves a worthy reward to be willing to travel a bit farther than most others in order to carve out your own sacred place, if only for an afternoon.

It must also be noted it is highly suggested you leave your phone behind as you go to inspect the barnacles on the boulders if you're prone to becoming consumed by the wonder of such wild and beautiful landscapes (or, equally enraptured by the memories of devouring those delicious crustaceans and the ponderance of taking some home to cook), as you will certainly not see the large and rather powerful wave coming up behind you.  Rest assured though, the locals will.