Bodega Bay is no Fisherman’s Wharf. It welcomes tourists, but goes about the gritty business of fishing without much fanfare. As one of the smallest working harbors on the West Coast, Bodega Bay is home to a fleet of fishermen and crabbers greatly diminished by ever-changing regulations and a dearth of newcomers who chug out of the marina at dawn with cigarettes and coffee in hand to chase the day’s catch. While the salmon fishery is not what it once was, this territory is still the place for king salmon as well as halibut, ling cod, rock fish and Dungeness crab.
"As one of smallest working harbors on the West Coast, Bodega Bay is home to a fleet of fishermen and crabbers"
Just as Bodega Bay takes fishing seriously, so it goes with seafood. For a tiny town, Bodega Bay has a lot of high quality dining options such as the Birds Café (great fish and shrimp tacos), Spud Point Crab Co. (the award-winning clam chowder attracts crowds, get there early), Fishetarian (more great fish tacos and crab sandwiches) are all standouts. Fishetarian attracts a crowd, but don’t be put off. The line goes quickly. The patio is a great place to eat, but the best spot in all of Bodega Bay is on the opposite right on the water’s edge in the sand. There are just a few picnic benches and one is usually available. Just don’t tell anyone.
"For a tiny town, Bodega Bay has a lot of high quality dining options"
Inland is the town of Bodega, home to the whitewashed Saint Teresa of Avila Church and nearby Bodega Schoolhouse, made famous in the schoolhouse scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. The town also features the famed Northern Light Surf Shop and the circa 1939 Casino Bar & Grill, an unassuming pool house and local saloon that serves a changing, but always delicious menu of local fish and produce that draws diners all the way from San Francisco and Sacramento. Mark Malicki’s wood-grilled oysters and weekend creations out back are not to be missed.
"The sunset viewing is as good as it gets."
Beyond the food, Bodega Head, the mighty protrusion of granite that juts out into the Pacific, was once the site of a PG&E nuclear power plant project (locals called it the “hole in the head”) but the nascent environmental movement shut it down. Instead of nuclear disaster, today the Head attracts whale watchers and storm chasers. To see massive swells and gale force winds borne in the Gulf of Alaska slam into the chunk of rock is exhilarating. The sunset viewing is as good as it gets. California über alles.