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California's Mendonoma Coast

A Vacation Insiders Guide

MEET DONNA MARTINEZ Contact Donna: +1-571-229-5198

This Insider Guide is brought to you by Donna Martinez, owner of an oceanfront 3 bedroom vacation rental in Sea Ranch, located on the Mendonoma Coast in Northern California.

THOUGHTS FROM THE EDITOR When Donna first contacted us about collaborating on this Insider's Guide I wondered where on earth she was talking about! Mendonoma? But it didn't take long - within minutes, I was in love with the place. One of the joys of working with people like Donna, people who have a deep respect and understanding of a region's relevance, is the continual realization that a world so small still has so many hidden wonders. Mendonoma, the coastline from Sonoma County to Mendocino County, is not just a place to escape the stresses of life (being just 100 miles north of San Fran). Instead it introduces you to a different kind of lifestyle - one that revolves around nature, one that is sensitive to, and exists with, its surroundings. Donna's vacation rental, Abalone Bay, draws you in

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from the very first photo. 20 foot vaulted ceilings with killer views out over the Pacific. Coastal trails right from the house, where you'll catch sight of seals, wild turkeys, deer, and perhaps even whales on their biannual migration. Culturally the area doesn't disappoint. From photographer Paul Kozal's Studio 391, to the Sea Ranch Chapel, to restaurants like St Orres (I want to try one of those martinis!), Mendonoma will feed your soul, refuel your energy reserves and send you back home revived!


DONNA MARTINEZ... Our family has always had a love affair with the “Mendonoma Coast,” otherwise known as the coastline from Sonoma County to Mendocino County. It is here we would come to dive for abalone or fish for cod and salmon to later enjoy feasting on our catch with family and friends. In fact it was in the waters just outside our home that we found the 10” abalone that became the inspiration for the naming of our home -- Abalone Bay. We have traveled and lived far and wide, including Spain, my husband's homeland, and most recently in Chile where we currently reside. However,

“We have traveled and lived far and wide... However, we have always returned home to Sea Ranch. Settling back in the Adirondack chairs, wine glasses in hand, we love to gaze out across the horizon.”

we have always returned home to Sea Ranch. Settling back in the Adirondack chairs, wine glasses in hand, we love to gaze out across the horizon, to debate who among us caught the biggest fish over the years, or to discuss the nuances of our abalone and paella recipes that make it uniquely our own. Our passion for the sea and the Sonoma/Mendocino area has passed on to our children, including our daughter who recently had her wedding at Sea Ranch. We have two dogs, a Maltese and a Vizsla, thus our home is pet friendly. If your pet is lucky enough to be joining you, we hope it has a wonderful time romping in the courtyard or taking nature hikes along with you on the trails. But don’t forget to keep your pet on a leash! We hope you enjoy our home as much as we do and that you too develop a love of Mendonoma.

50 Years of The Sea Ranch: Experience the audio walking tour, a celebration of Sea Ranch's 50 year anniversary.

What the Reviews Say: Click on the image to the right to read the HomeAway reviews left by past guests of Abalone Bay...

DONNA’S REAL MENDONOMA... Welcome! Welcome to Mendonoma - a stretch of coast one hundred miles north of San Francisco that incorporates the craggy shorelines of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties; and whose communities encompass Timber Cove in the south, Irish Beach in the north, Annapolis in the East, and in the middle, Gualala and The Sea Ranch on either side of the Gualala River. Most of all, welcome to Abalone Bay, situated in Mendonoma's midpoint. Welcome to your oceanfront retreat perched atop a scenic bluff; to a place where whales breach in the bay, deer almost eat out of your hand, and seals sun themselves on rocks; to a cozy retreat just a short drive from the gastronomic delights of Mendonoma. Welcome to your dog-friendly homeaway-from home in lovely Sea Ranch, California.

Your arrival from the east threaded you through mountain passes with its steamy geysers and the world's tallest trees, the coastal redwoods, and of course a few eastern Sonoma's wineries too. From the north you enjoyed the grand vistas along the ruggedly dramatic coastline of America's newest national monument, Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. And like your compatriots of the south and east, you too may have stopped along the way to enjoy a craft brew or explored Mendocino's great vintages as well. No matter your route, we are glad you have arrived. Mendonoma welcomes you to a land filled with history, legends, landmarks, and visionaries that include:

Photo by Deborah Coleman Photography

We are so happy to welcome you no matter the road you took. From the south, your two-lane ribbon of a road wound you past wineries that dotted the Sonoma County landscape. Or perhaps you toured any one of the more than 20 artisan breweries found in Sonoma. Your trek then continued north, wrapping around the coastal mountains with its largest traffic jam, a herd of cows crossing to nibble on the grass that is, of course, greener on the other side. The greatest challenge along the way was discovering the best places on the road to pull over and marvel at the ocean's vistas beyond.

The Sea Ranch's original team of architects and designers who, 50 years ago, created a community that would preserve the natural environment.

Artists like Erin Lee Gafill and Paul Kozal, whose crafts and fine arts are displayed in studios, local art centers, boutiques, or along the roadways.

Legends such as the shipwrecked schooner, the Sea Foam, the only means transportation and shipping prior to the 1930's.

Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands newly designated national monument and the historical Point Arena lighthouse.

c Photo by Nelson Minar

Mendonoma also welcomes you to an outdoor paradise. Here you can rock climb, hike numerous trails, bicycle along the coast, dive for abalone or fish from the shore. Whale watching is sure to give visitors a thrill as they swim past during the bi-annual migrations. Deer, wild turkeys, fox, harbor seals and so many other fauna grace the land. You may even see the Sea Ranch flock of sheep working hard to keep the meadows trim as they graze along the 10 mile stretch. From the wind swept meadows waving in time with the ocean's tides to the up-sweep of redwoods the flora of Mendonoma provides a spectacular vision

c Photo by Ingrid Taylor

the manically crazy hustle and bustle of life in large metro areas such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. It is here families come to reunite and lovers rekindle romance, especially in Sea Ranch. Mendonoma's Sea Ranch is a unique community association of private homes, sited with careful attention to the natural landscape along a 10-mile stretch of the Sonoma County coast in Northern California. It is internationally known for its distinctive architecture, the sensitivity of its land planning, and community-based stewardship of the natural environment. Sea Ranch is the perfect place to exhale and recharge not only the mind, but also the soul. And there's nowhere better place to do that than at Abalone Bay. Again we bid you...Welcome!

with its bouquet of intermingled fragrance. You are sure to agree there is little that can compare with Mendonoma's outdoor beauty. Mendonoma can offer its own little frustrations as well, especially for those of you accustomed to connecting with the frenetic pace of the big city. Here daily life takes on its own individual timetable. Communication with the outside world may also be a challenge as Verizon phone service is the only cell service provider with any reasonable and often spotty reception. You may also find that wi-fi hot spots a challenge to locate. Mendonoma is a state of mind. It is a zenful respite from

Photo by Ron LeValley


Discover a Favorite Local Artist...


Drift Along the Gualala River...


Explore Point Arena..

Gualala has a beautiful community art center nestled in the redwoods, Gualala Arts Center. Art exhibits, workshops & classes, classical & popular music performances, theater, lectures and much more. There's more at Cypress Village Gallery District on Ocean Drive, Gualala. Our favorite, Studio 391, is one of Gualala's premier fine art galleries specializing in photography by Paul Kozal and exhibiting works by emerging and established artists. There are many other shops and studios, each offering a diverse and distinctive selection of fine art for any art lover.

Enjoy an idyllic river trip along the Gualala River. If you don't have your own you can rent a paddle board (from Wass'Up, a little corner shop inside the ARFF feed store), or a canoe or kayak (from Adventure Rents). They provide self-guided rentals in top of the line watercraft; single and tandem kayaks and canoes, for up to a 2-hour paddle, a 2-4 hr. ‘half day’ tour for time to picnic, swim and explore or a full day river adventure.

In March 2014 President Obama designated the rugged Mendocino County coastline just north of the town of Point Arena, Point ArenaStornetta Public Lands, as our newest addition to The California Coastal National Monument. It includes access to 12 coastal miles of undeveloped federal and state-managed public lands, coastal bluffs, the estuary of the Garcia River, sandy beaches and dunes, and adjacent small islands accessible during low tide. It was ranked third in places to visit in 2014. Try to also visit the Point Arena Historic Light House. Guided tours are available daily.


Explore Sea Ranch's Trails...


Meditate in the Sea Ranch Chapel...

Photo by Ron LeValley

A walk along any of Sea Ranch's 40 miles of trails is a must! You may encounter harbor seals in the Marine Preserve, a family of deer, wild turkeys, a fox, or even bobcat. As the whales make their migratory trek between Mexico and Alaska you're likely to see them spouting, or even breaching the water! At the end of the day's hike, as the sun sets in the horizon and the moon rises atop the redwoods, offer up a toast to another glorious day at Sea Ranch. Trail maps and guide booklets are available for purchase through The Sea Ranch Association Office.

The Sea Ranch Chapel is an unexpected delight and most interesting piece of architectural whimsy located in the mid-point of The Sea Ranch on South Highway 1. Some describe its shape as an elf's hat. James Hubbell, artist and architectural designer is the creative genius who combined local natural materials with gifted local contractors, crafts men and artisans. The little non-denominational chapel is open to the public every day and may be reserved for small weddings (50 persons).

c Photo by Ingrid Taylor

DONNA'S FAVORITE RESTAURANTS... ON THE OUTSKIRTS IN THE AREA Black Point Grill: The Black Point Grill in the Sea Ranch Lodge offers Contemporary American with French influences. The restaurant has spectacular views of the Black Point Bay. Check their calendar for special events such as their WineMaker Dinners and Jazz Night. Call for reservations and to make sure it is not closed for special events, such as weddings. Wi-fi is available. Location: 60 Sea Walk Dr, CA 95412 Telephone: (707) 785-2371) W:

Trinks Cafe: Trinks is a popular dining spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner offering soup, salads, and sandwiches. Their cookies and desserts are fabulous! Dogs are welcome on the patio dining area. Good views of the Gualala estuary area from the patio and window seats. Trinks is also the local wi-fi hotspot in town. Check their website for the day's menu. Location: 39140 S Hwy 1 Gualala, CA 95445

St Orres Restaurant: Rosemary Campiformio has wowed food writers for years with her version of North Coast cuisine. Her pre-fixe menu includes daily delivered organic ingredients by local fishermen and farmers. All her mushroom dishes are simply to die for! Be sure to sample the barkeep, Lupe's, basil or celery martinis. Match them with tapas for a less expensive, yet just as delightful, dining experience. Location: 36601 S Hwy 1, Gualala, CA 95445 Telephone: (707) 884-3335 W: Pier Chowder House and Tap Room: While making your way to our newest national monument, be sure to schedule time for a fabulous meal and brew at the Pier Chowder House and Tap Room next to the dock. We love the sweet potato fries and their burgers. Also great of course is their chowder. It is also the best place to watch Fourth of July fireworks in the Mendonoma area! Location: 90 Port Rd, Point Arena, CA Telephone: (707) 882-3400 W:

Telephone: (707) 884-1713 W: Photo: TripAdvisor Upper Crust Pizza Upper Crust Pizza serves up warm, excellent pizza with equally warm and friendly smiles. It is a pleasant little corner pizza shop next to the old Gualala Hotel and a favorite must-stop of our son's. You may order in, take out, or ask for delivery. Location: 39331 S Hwy 1, Gualala, CA 95445 Telephone: (707) 884-1324. W: Photo: TripAdvisor

Anchor Bay Thai Kitchen: A great surprise nestled among the row of shops in the village of Anchor Bay, 5 mins north of Gualala on Hwy 1. Drive slowly or you may just miss it! A favorite among locals and visitors alike with delicious authentic tastes and vegetarian options. Order heat to your taste buds tolerance. Location: 35517 California 1, Gualala, CA Telephone: (707) 884-4141 W:



The Two Fish Baking Company

Bones Roadhouse Restaurant

Sea Ranch's own Two Fish Bakery is known for its breads, pastries and pizzas. They also serve delectable sandwiches on homemade bread. I recommend calling in large or specialty orders.

You know if the locals like it, it must be great! Bones Roadhouse is a laid back place for great barbecue, or perhaps a burger washed down with a cold beer. And, when the coastal fog creeps in, try their clam chowder to warm you up. Then kick back and enjoy the great views along with the blues.



Sea Ranch Golf Links

Recreation Centers

5 miles north of Abalone Bay. Amazing greens and stunning ocean views. Mention you're staying at Abalone Bay managed by Beach Rentals to receive your discounted round with lunch and golf cart.

Enjoy a great workout at any of the three recreation centers. Del Mar Center has a large outdoor heated pool, saunas and 2 tennis courts. Ohlson Recreation Center has a large outdoor heated pool, saunas, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts. A short walk brings you to the beach. Moonraker Recreation Center has a small outdoor heated pool, saunas and tennis courts.

DID YOU KNOW? Sea Ranch's Private Airport

Sea Ranch has its own PRIVATE RUNWAY open only to Sea Ranch Association members, their invites, and their renters. For more information please visit this article.

As well as the recreations centers, you also have the option of One-Eyed Jack’s, a playground with picnic tables and barbecue available, plus easy access to the beach. Finally there is The Hot Spot, located on the Gualala River on the south east end of The Sea Ranch. Picnic tables and barbecue are available. For more information there is a useful short PDF of opening times, location, etc at this link.

DONNA’S TIPS ON WHERE TO STAY... The area has a number of options depending on your needs. Below is Donna's very own vacation rental, along with a couple of other suggestions. Should those all be booked up feel free to drop us a line and let us know. We're not a travel agency but will certainly try to lend a helping hand by offering some tips to make your search easier!

#1: Sea Ranch Lodge...

The Sea Ranch Lodge, a lovely alternative option when we are unable to accommodate your stay. It's 19 rooms with ocean views have been recently renovated. Guest rooms are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi. To maintain tranquility, there are no TVs in the guest-rooms. All rooms are non-smoking. Some rooms are pet-friendly. Rooms are about $300/night. Visit the Sea Ranch Lodge Website to Find Out More...

#2: St. Orres...

St. Orres, around 1.5 miles beyond Gualala, offers cottage-style accommodations on its property and 8 rooms in the main building (these rooms share 3 bathrooms). It is well know for its romantic Russian-style building -- complete with two onion-domed towers. Cost for your stay ranges from $95 -$350 per night double occupancy, full breakfast. They are also pet friendly. Visit the St. Orres Website to Find Out More...

#3: Donna's Very Own...

Sea Ranch Abalone Bay, a 3-bed / 2-bath vacation rental, sleeping 6 people. Featuring skylights and clear story windows throughout its 20+ foot vaulted cathedral ceilings. From the great room or from your bedroom view deer feeding in the foreground and whales spouting in the distance. Dog and diver friendly. Two night minimum stay is required with seasonal rates ranging from $296 to $395. Visit Donna's Abalone Bay Website to Find Out More...

Donna's Things to Avoid Disturbing the zen of Sea Ranch...

Fancy wear, unless at a wedding...

Failing to obtain a license...

Our HOA does not permit loud parties, so please keep your celebrations mellow. The community is known for its distinctive architecture, sensitive land planning, and communitybased stewardship of the natural environment. Please step lightly on the land and avoid pollution of all sorts (garbage, noise, and light).

The Mendonoma area is very laid back. Unless you are attending a wedding, dress causally! If you attend a wedding held at the old Barn at Sea Ranch Lodge, flats for the ladies are recommended. Note: Fog can sometimes linger in the summertime; so be sure to bring along a sweater, shawl, or jacket. Please note there are no dry cleaners for 100 miles!

Diving for red abalone or fishing without a current California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) license is a very serious offense. Double check the CDWF's web page to learn the current sport-fishing and abalone harvesting regulations and if there are any emergency closures. Game wardens vigilantly patrol all the Mendonoma coastline.


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A Vacation Insiders Travel Guide to Mendonoma, CA  
A Vacation Insiders Travel Guide to Mendonoma, CA