Wander along the beaches and learn about U.S. military history in this intriguing town known for its huge sand dunes.
Marina is a pleasant coastal town with a picturesque state park overlooking Monterey Bay. It contains part of California State University and an old military complex with exhibits relaying its history. Enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and scenic ocean views in this quiet town far from the noise of big cities.
Stroll along the 1,500-foot (460-meter) trail meandering through the Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Appreciate the seclusion and tranquility in this 4-mile (6-kilometer) stretch of sand dunes covered by native vegetation. Snap photos of the birds, such as snowy plovers and red-tailed hawks, that nest in the dunes.
At the back of the beach is a boardwalk leading to a viewing platform atop a cliff. Climb to the summit and gaze at the ocean in the hope of spotting whales, visible year-round and more frequent from April to December.
Encounter the old buildings that were part of the Fort Ord complex from which the park takes its name. Today, exhibits chronicle the use of this site as a military base of the United States Army. Explore the exhibit with a downloadable guide on your cell phone.
North of the park is the Marina State Beach, which offers excellent views of the Monterey Bay coastline. Sunbathe and swim in the ocean to take advantage of the year-round pleasant weather. Watch hang gliders taking off from the highest of the sand dunes. Stay for the spectacular sunset, when the silhouettes of the cliffs darken against the red sky.
A little inland from the beach is Locke-Paddon Park. Explore its stunning wetland terrain and enjoy a picnic on one of the provided tables.
The town is in the northwestern corner of Monterey County in Central California. Find it 8 miles (13 kilometers) north of Monterey and 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Santa Cruz. Get around the town on foot or by bus. Visit Marina and its sand dune park for a scenic and serene vacation.