Irish Beach's northern end
Goat Rock at high tide
Irish Beach was originally a sheep ranch purchased in the early 1960s by Bill Moores, Sr., a lumberman from Ukiah, CA. His ambition was to establish a second home development on the coast, reminiscent of his early life enjoyment of the Oregon Coast at Gearheart and Cannon Beach.
Over the years, Irish Beach has become not only a second home development, but also the permanent residence for many families leaving the pressured environments of more urban areas. It is now a community of approximately 160 homes located 45 minutes south of Mendocino Village and three hours north of the Golden Gate bridge. Of the total, about 40 homes are occupied full-time with the remainder split between vacation rentals (about 50) and second homes (about 70). The homes sit on the ocean bluffs, are tucked in pastures or nestled among groves of pines. There are also approximately 300 building lots without homes. As on The Sea Ranch, home designs are subject to architectural committee review, although the restrictions are not as numerous, allowing the “look” of Irish Beach homes to have more variety of styles. The Irish Beach Improvement Club, a voluntary homeowners association, maintains picnic grounds and access roads, including the road down to and up from the beach.
Irish Beach property owners and renters enjoy one of the finest, longest and most un-crowded beaches in Northern California. At the north end of six miles of sand and surf, Irish Beach is as close to a private beach as is possible in California. Access from Irish Beach itself is gated and vehicular access is available only to residents and vacation rental visitors. Otherwise the beach is a healthy walk on foot!
The entire strand of beach that includes Irish Beach begins at the Garcia River just north of the Point Arena Lighthouse, encompasses Manchester State Beach (public access) and ends at the rocky promontory below the Irish Beach community. Depending on the tides, the beach varies in width from 50 to 100 feet. From the private parking lot the beach is a few steps away through a tangle of driftwood left from logging activities in the distant past.
The beach is a great place to jog, with low tides offering a harder, smoother footing that makes the twelve mile round trip to the Garcia River a challenge. In the winter, streams cut through the sand as the rains seek to return to the ocean. Fording these tumbling rivers can be an adventure; bridges built of driftwood can be an exciting alternative. Walking along the water line is always enjoyable, but please…do not turn your back on the ocean! “Sneaker” waves can be perilous to the unwary beachcomber.
Bird watchers will see many varieties of common and not-so-common shore birds. There is also an abundance of wildlife in this pristine coastal environment…deer, fox, skunk, raccoon, hare and squirrel are common. Ocean mammals include seals and grey whales during their seasonal migration.
At various times of the year the sea washes in various flotsam and jetsam as well as jellyfish, kelp and other seaweeds. Sand castles, kite flying, and tide pooling (at the north end of the beach) are other popular activities. Occasionally, Irish Creek forms a lagoon offering a sheltered warm pool for children.
For the sportsman, surf casting for sea perch is a satisfying and productive activity. For the early riser with an accurate tide table guide, the rocks north of Irish Beach harbor abalone. It is not unknown for a tardy abalone seeker to become a cliff climber to avoid the perils of the incoming tide. Winter winds and waves offer Boogie Boarders an opportunity to improve their skills, however the ocean is cold here, and full wet suits are recommended.
The only commercial business in Irish Beach proper is Irish Beach Realty and Rentals. At the northern edge of Irish Beach is a Victorian Bed & Breakfast Inn with fine dining restaurant open to the public. The Post Office is in Manchester as are groceries and supplies. Gasoline is available in Point Arena (8 miles) miles south.