The popular and uninformed perception of California is coloured by the unattractive urban sprawl of Los Angeles or the more sophisticated picturesque qualities of San Francisco. Twixt these two major cities (see this link for details), there is a magical and visually enchanting coastal region that can best be explored by taking the Pacific Coast highway from one to the other.
Less well known, is an equally attractive region to the north of San Francisco, of which Sea Ranch, on the Redwood Pacific Coast, is one of the least well known but magnetic attractions. This is the area that will appeal most to lovers of nature and those who are interested in how development can live alongside conservation.
Hundreds of years before the first Europeans saw the Northern Sonoma coast, the Sea Ranch area was inhabited by the Pomo Indians who made seasonal treks to the area to hunt, fish and gather food. The Pacific Ocean yielded a rich harvest of Salmon, Crab, Abalone, Clams and Muscles whilst the wild coast provided an important barrier, fending off the ships of the white man until as late as 1812. It was in this year that a peg-legged officer (Not PC, but that's what he was!) of the Russian Navy landed in the area, seeking to establish a trading base. Although the area was claimed by Spain, they had never set foot in the area and the Russians gave the local indians 3 horses, 3 pairs of breeches, three blankets, two axes and some beads, in exchange for 1,000 acres of land. For some 25 years, the Russians struggled to make a living in the area, after which the land passed through several hands until 1963 when the 5,300 acres of land, now Sea ranch, was acquired by developers.
Acquisition by developers normally spells doom to the natural environment, but not in this case. Massive environmental studies were conducted and a programme implemented to restore the area to its former state. Housing was developed in the area, built to a sympathetic specification, the basis of which remains that it is restricted to unpainted wood in large open meadow areas, without fences or lawns. The effect is that the feeling of the rugged Pacific coastal area is retained, while the public are permitted to enjoy all the area has to offer.
A Typical Sea Ranch Villa-Plain Outside, Luxurious Inside
About 100 miles north of San Francisco, near the small town Gualala, Sea Ranch is a community where one can escape the rigours of urban life. Fringed on one side by the rugged Pacific coast, one can walk the more than 10 mile bluff trail in near solitude, beach-comb on the manysandy Beaches, hike through the Redwood forests or simply sit on a headland and watch the migrating whales or Sea Lions hunting for food. Also available for the visitor are two swimming pools (solar heated of course!), tennis courts and a superb 18-hole golf course.
Sea Ranch Area
At Sea Ranch today, there are 2310 individual building plots on 3,500 acres, half as common open space and 1500 acres as forest reserve. Deer and other wild animals roam fearlessly among the houses, with the occasional Skunk appearing in the headlamps of moving vehicles. The Pacific Ocean is visible from many of the dwellings, none of which are more than a short walk from the shore line where the Sea lions and Seals are to be seen. Away from the Sea Ranch complex there is easy access to the giant Redwood forests, the chocolate-box town of Mendicino and the Napa Valley wine region, as well as countless miles of wilderness trails.
Visitors to Sea Ranch can stay in the Sea Ranch Lodge or, for a better experience, rent one of the many private residences that are available throughout the year. These homes are fully furnished and equipped, even down to firewood (many of them having open fireplaces as well as central heating, many with outdoor hot tubs). Self-catering is recommended, though there are several restaurants in the local area, offering fairly basic, but quite expensive cuisine.
View from Bedroom Window of Villa illustrated left
Rental costs vary, but as an example, we stayed in a beautifully eqipped three double-bedroomed home, looking directly over the Pacific Ocean. The cost was c$400 US per night. As a holiday rental for two families, this equates to about £800 per week per family. Its not a cheap holiday, but it is unusual and probably compares favourably with the cost of a reasonable hotel. What is certain is that, at whatever cost, it would be very difficult to match the beauty of this location.
For further information about Sea Ranch Vacation Home Rentals, contact the Sea Ranch Management via their web site at: http://www.888searanch.com
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. because only then does one feel that al;l is as it should be.
Anne Frank (1929 - 1945)
from 'The Diary of Anne Frank (1947)