The peak of the summer is nearly upon us, which naturally has many of us planning an upcoming beach day. These past couple of weeks have been absolutely sweltering (at least by Bay Area standards) and have created an influx of people from all over the Bay heading to some of the area’s most popular beaches. Whether you want to join in on the fun at the Bay’s more popular attractions, or avoid the crowds to enjoy some off-the-beaten-path relaxation, we have something for you in our countdown of the Bay Area’s Top 5 Beaches. We’ve also included some strain recommendations (all currently available @ EWC as of 7/13/2018) to make your trip even more enjoyable!

5. Ocean Beach: Encompassing a vast 3.5 miles on the west coast of San Francisco, Ocean Beach has long served as the go-to summer destination for city dwellers and those seeking a more traditional beach experience. You can find wonderful views, activities (surfers, firepits, etc.), landmarks (Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Land’s End Labyrinth, etc.), and more! At the far north end of the beach, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge. The beach is family-friendly, but be careful: strong currents and cold waters may be too much for some children.

How Busy? 4 out of 10

Recommended Strain: We recommend GG#4 for Ocean Beach; a balanced hybrid that will have you relaxed and happy -- ready for anything that this expansive stretch of beach may throw your way. Great for fans of Chem Dog, Blue Dream, Sour Cheese, and more.

4. Fort Funston: Just south of Ocean Beach next to Lake Merced lies Fort Funston Beach. A former ‘harbor defense’ station in WW1 and WW2, Funston offers a sprawling view of the Pacific Ocean from its rolling bluffs that eventually lead down to the actual beach. Dogs are encouraged at this super-pet-friendly location, and are allowed to roam off-leash both on the beach and throughout the hiking trails overlooking the beach. Also, check out some of the interesting local graffiti art on the abandoned military structures straddling the sea at the bottom -- these murals are ever-changing and usually offer fresh work on each visit. The beach is now considered part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

How Busy? 4 out of 10

Recommended Strain: If you’re bringing your pet with you, you’ll definitely want something that won’t make you lethargic afterward - -we recommend Premium Jack: a sativa-dominant hybrid offering a sweet, piney taste and ultra uplifting effects. Great for fans of Trainwreck, Haze, Jack Herer, and more.

3. Rodeo Beach: Located across the Golden Gate Bridge in the beautiful Marin Headlands of Sausalito, Rodeo Beach is a unique spot recognizable by the sizeable lagoon right next to the beach, and by the scenic cliffs sheltering it in from the Headlands on the north end. Adventurers will enjoy this beach for the beach/hike hybrid; hike up the surrounding cliffs to find abandoned military bunkers from WWII (similar to aforementioned Funston) and to enjoy a jaw-dropping view of the Headlands, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Serves as a great stop if you plan on spending a full day or two exploring the vast Headlands.

How Busy? 3 out of 10

Recommended Strain: For Rodeo, we recommend the classic Sour Tangie -- an upbeat sativa hybrid offering dense nugs a pleasantly citrusy flavor. The ideal strain to power you and your friends through a sun soaked day filled with swimming, hiking, and relaxing.

2. Garrapatta State Beach: This little gem in Carmel near the northern entrance of Big Sur might just pass you by if you’re not paying attention -- there aren’t any signs warning travelers of its existence, save for a small plaque just outside the actual beach entrance itself. Enjoy the prototypical NorCal rocky coastline, coupled with an Italy-esque line of mountains circling in the area, creating somewhat of a cove-like situation. Also, as if a beautiful beach and mountains weren’t enough, you’ll be amazed by the vegetation growing within the accompanying bluffs -- vibrant wildflowers and lillies line much of the surrounding area during the warmer seasons. Enjoy this beach, but don’t tell too many friends -- the relative exclusivity adds to the wonder of this gorgeous little slice of NorCal beach.

How Busy? 1 out of 10

Recommended Strain: Known as Bob Marley’s favorite strain, the Jamaican sativa known as Lamb’s Bread is the perfect strain to accompany you on your trip to Garrapatta. Sure to help you stay awake and alert on this somewhat long journey, and enjoy a beautiful day on one of the more obscure beaches in legendary Big Sur.

1. Shark Fin Cove: As concealed as Garrapata Beach is, our #1 choice just may have it beat -- Shark Fin Cove is located in Davenport (approx. 10 miles north of Santa Cruz) just off the world-famous Highway 1. Other than a brief view of its famous ‘Shark Fin’ rock protruding out of the water from the highway, there are absolutely no signs indicating the presence of a beach on the approach or even at the actual location. Those who do manage to locate this magnificent wonder are met with a somewhat-perilous path to the beach itself -- a dirt-only trail down from the surrounding 100-foot bluffs that semi-gracefully spits trekkers out onto the sand next to a bonfire area. Enjoy the various caves and arches littered throughout this small, but interesting cove -- also doesn't hurt that a short walk down some no-longer-used traintracks leads you to the popular, abandoned Davenport Pier, which is also quite easy on the eyes. Stop through on your next Highway 1 adventure, and we assure you that you won’t be disappointed!

How Busy? 1 out of 10.

Recommended Strain: Break out the special stash for this exclusive trip -- such a great location deserves a rare strain like Rose Especial. Not requiring much hiking or other physical activity, the palpable indica-dominant qualities of Rose shouldn’t be too much of a problem at this relaxation-demanding cove.

Honorable Mentions: Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Martins Beach, Del Monte Beach

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best Bay Area beaches to visit this summer -- let us know on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter if you agree with our selections, or if we left any sure winners off the list!
(photo via California Beaches)