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Bodega Bay Visitors Center

913 Highway 1
Bodega Bay, CA 94923

(707) 377-4459

Current Temperature

Bodega Bay › West: United States

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Bodega Bay Area History 200 Years of Change


Until the Fall of 1775, the Miwok and Pomo Indians lived peacefully in the coastal mountains and valleys of what we now call Sonoma County. Their lifestyle revolved around the seasons, hunting and gathering from the land and harvesting the sea and rivers. Little changed over hundreds of years until the first white sails were spotted off the coast.

The Spanish sloop, Sonora, carried Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra Mollineda and a group of explorers to anchorage at the mouth of Tomales Bay at the southern end of Bodega Bay according to a journal kept by a member of the company.

Slowly moving north from Mexico since the mid-1500s, the Spanish claimed vast areas of land for Spain and sent back tales of the glory of California. This attracted explorers from other countries throughout the world.

But it wasn't until the early 1800s that white settlements began to spring up along the coast. By 1812, Russian fur traders were looking for new sources of otters and seals and came south in search of better food supplies for their northern settlements. With the help of local Indians, they built Fort Ross 24 miles north of Bodega Bay.

By the mid-1800s, Mexico had gained independence from Spain and in the process, granted the land to Mexican citizens and soldiers. General Vallejo and his family were among those who established hundreds of thousands of acres of ranchos along the coast and inland valleys in what is now much of Sonoma County.

One of the settlers was Captain Stephen Smith who married a Peruvian, Manuela Torres, and became a Mexican citizen in order to receive a land grant. Together they established Rancho Bodega bordered by the Russian River to the north and Estero Americano to the south, a large portion of the Bodega Bay Area. Firman Camelot founded the town of "Bay" in the late 1800s, which later changed its name to Bodega Bay.

The tiny town of Bodega shares the mysterious source of its name with Bodega Bay. Here Captain Smith built the first steam-powered saw mill in California with parts he brought by ship. Bodega suited him well with its abundant source of wood and nearby bay for shipping. The town grew to its largest size around the turn of the century then diminished to its current population of under 100.

In 1964 PG&E abandoned its plans to build a nuclear power plant on Bodega Head. The PG&E project at Bodega Head was the focus of a battle that helped galvanize modern environmentalism in California.

In more modern times, Bodega Bay become known around the world as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds".


The "Big Hole" dug by PG&E in preparation for building a nuclear power plant at Bodega Head. The construction was abandoned in 1964.



Map showing the proximity of the proposed PG&E nuclear power plant to the San Andreas Fault.



Along with Bodega Bay activist Hazel Mitchell, David Pesonen (right) celebrates PG&E's1964 decision to give up on the utility's planned Atomic Park at Bodega Bay. Credit Sonoma County Museum for these images.





map_overviewBodega Bay Area Overview Map

Bodega Bay is located on the Pacific Coast just 68 miles North of San Francisco.

From San Francisco: Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take 101 North to Petaluma. Take the East Washington Street Exit and follow the signs 30 miles West to Bodega Bay

From Santa Rosa: Take 101 to Hwy 12 West. Exit through Sebastopol until it becomes Bodega Hwy to Coast Hwy 1 (23 miles) Turn right onto Hwy 1 to Bodega Bay (5 miles).

map_detailBodega Bay Detail Map

The most prominent geological feature of Bodega Bay is Bodega Head, a peninsula that forms the the protective arm between the ocean and the bay. The San Andreas fault runs right through it, separating steep rocky bluffs from sandy dunes. Atop the bluffs, grasslands rise more gently to the coastal ridges. The Head provides a dramatic vista and the ideal place to watch whales migrate south twice yearly in January/February and April/May.

Doran Park is a strip of beach formed by the currents of Bodega Bay. The ocean side is ideal for water sports such as surfing and body boarding while the harbor side offers a salt marsh which is a habitat for a variety of birds. At the end of Doran Beach is the protected entrance to the harbor where the fog horn keeps a constant watch.





bodega-bay-church-bldg-2302Bodega Bay Church

Come and worship Christ with us! You'll meet friendly people of all ages from Bodega Bay, Dillon Beach, Valley Ford, Freestone, Jenner and beyond. Sunday morning Services:

Jerry Lites - Pat Parks - Ruben Sanchez

Sunday Bible Study - 9:00am
Worship service - 10:00

Thursday evening AWANA Club - 6:00 - 7:30pm (A ministry for kids K-6 grades)
Friday evening - Christ's Ambassadors - 6:00 - 9:00pm (A ministry for Junior High & High School)

1320 Bayview Street, Bodega Bay

(707) 875-3559


st-teresa-bodegaSaint Teresa of Avila Church

Saint Teresa of Avila ChurchSaint Teresa of Avila Church is a Roman Catholic church in Bodega, California. The white, wooden church with a steeple sits on a hilltop above the small, rural town of Bodega in Northern California. The church was built by shipbuilders in 1859 on land donated by Jasper O’Farrell and named after St. Teresa of Avila by local Spanish and Portuguese immigrants. Archbishop Alemany dedicated the church on June 2, 1861. The church is still in use today and is the oldest church in continuous use in Sonoma County.

Mass Schedule
Saturday: 5pm
Sunday: 9:30am
Weekday: Tues-Thrus 9am

17120 Bodega Highway, Bodega, CA

Pastor: Rev. Loren Allen

fishermanschapelFisherman's Chapel by the Bay

A non-denominational church that provides worship, fellowship and outreach to the community in the name of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the Holy Scriptures for doctrine, behavior and faith. "Come follow me," Jesus said "and I will make you fishers of men."

Services are held every Sunday at 10:00am at the Grange Hall, 1370 Bodega Ave, Bodega Bay, CA.


Reverend Kathy Cramer
Reverend Michael Vosler

occidentalchurchOccidental Community Church

The Little Country Church With A Big Heart. Join us in Celebration (worship), Communication (education) and Community and Commission (our outreach).

Sunday Services at 10:30 am.

Second & Church Streets, Occidental
(707) 874-3501





Whale Migration

whale_watching290Whale Migration Bodega Bay

Giants Migrate Along the Sonoma Coast at Bodega Bay

The epic migration of whales peaks from January through May, but is visible during much of the year. Each year gray and blue whales travel south from the Chukchi Sea near Alaska and down to Baja California for winter, then back north for the summer feeding season. A great vantage point is the Ocean Overlook at Bodega Head (see directions below), or various whale watching boat trips launching from the local area.


volunteer_sonomacoast_whalewatchStewards of the Coast Whale Watching

Whale Watch began in as a response to the public's growing concern and awareness of the fragile relationship with the dwindling population of remaining whales and also as a celebration of one of nature's grand events - the annual migration of the Pacific gray whale.

The whales begin their journey at their summer feeding grounds off Arctic waters of the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. They travel down along the Pacific Coast to their winter calving lagoons off Baja California, Mexico. The whales return after breeding or with their young via the same route, usually closer to shore with the mothers on the outside and the calves closer inland for protection.

gray-whale-1Whale Watching in Sonoma County

Whale watching in Sonoma County California is very popular because there are so many easily accessible prominent high points from which to watch for whales. From Bodega Bay north, Highway 101 tightly hugs the shoreline and provides many handy pull-outs. The highway takes you straight through several parks as well including several county parks around Bodega Bay, Sonoma Coast State Park, Fort Ross State Historic Park, Salt Point State Park, and the Kruse Rhododendron State Preserve. No one is allowed to build on the west side of the highway so the view is totally unobstructed and freely accessible to the public!


bodega-head-bodega-bay-coastlineGray Whale Watching - The #1 Spot

The number one spot for watching gray whales in Sonoma County has to be Bodega Head, the headland associated with Bodega Bay. Because of the topography of the land, this is the point where the gray whales tend to come the closest to shore. You can often watch the calves interacting with their Mothers which can lead to lots of exclamatory remarks if you happen to be standing in a crowd which can certainly happen on the weekends when hundreds of people migrate to this spot to watch the whales.

Whale Watching in Bodega Bay





Weddings and Event Planning


tia-claire-brideTia & Claire Studio

Tia and Claire StudioTia and Claire work unobtrusively to capture the story of your day as it unfolds, with all its gorgeous details, spontaneous quirkiness, and intimate moments. They get the cool stuff - as well as the classics, and all in a manner that feels comfortable, natural, and fun. Contact the Studio for more information.

Telephone: (415) 379-4574



bblweddingBodega Bay Lodge and Spa

Bodega Bay's only 4-diamond resort with 84 luxurious guest rooms and suites featuring ocean views and fireplaces. Enjoy the pool, whirlpool, sauna, fitness center, full service spa and complimentary wine hour. Five star dining at the Duck Club Restaurant. Meeting rooms accommodate 10-80. Group Retreat, Spa and Golf packages available.

Exchange vows at our seaside Lodge surrounded by mesmerizing views of dramatic Bodega Head, Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Choose from a selection of romantic indoor/outdoor venues for a chic modern ceremony or a vintage gala affair. Host your rehearsal dinner or celebration brunch at Drakes, where artisanal Sonoma Coast cuisine is proudly local, presented with flair and artfully prepared to make your guests swoon.



bodega_bay_yacht_clubBodega Harbour Yacht Club

Bodega Harbour Yacht Club For larger parties, our Yacht Club is the perfect place for weddings, private parties, and large banquet functions. Located right on the Bay, a large rock fireplace adds ambiance to the lower level of the Yacht Club.

Amanda Vineyard
707-875-3519 ext. 40



firefly-logo-photoFirefly Fine Catering

Firefly Fine CateringCreative event planning, individually tailored menus and attention to every detail creates a complete experience for our clients. With almost twenty years of event planning history and a passion for the business, our planners will create the perfect event for your wedding, corporate event or special occasion. Customized menus feature the finest local foods with creative preparations in a variety of cuisines. Our experienced service staff is hand-picked to provide you and your guests with impeccable service. Enjoy.

(707) 876-1942



Marriage Licenses

To be married in California you must have a California marriage license. You may obtain your license in any county throughout California. To obtain a license in Sonoma County, contact the County Clerk at 707-565-3800.

The minimum age for a marriage license in California is 18; individuals under 18 must have consent from at least one parent or legal guardian and permission from a California Superior Court judge to marry. Both partners must be present when filing for an application to marry. Photo identification is required from each partner. There is no residency of California requirement. All marriage licenses are valid for 90 days prior to the wedding. Blood tests are no longer required. Costs vary by county but average $60-$70 and may be paid by cash or travelers check. If either party has been divorced within six months, final divorce decrees are required. Ordained ministers, priest, rabbis, ships captains (over three miles out), judges, commissioner, and County Clerks may perform the ceremony.


beautifulceremonyJudith Iam

Wedding Officiant
Priestess of Love

(707) 480-7028



bodega-bay-church-bldg-2302Minister Jerry Lites

Bodega Bay Church
1320 Bay View
Bodega CA


nancy-hargisMinister Nancy Hargis






Special Event Locations


The Sonoma Coast has many beautiful venues for event...this list may help you find the one you're looking for.




Bodega Bay Inn

1588 Eastshore Rd,
Bodega Bay 94923




bodega-bay-grangeBodega Bay Grange Hall

1370 Bodega Ave
Bodega Bay 94923



bodegabaylodgeBodega Bay Lodge

103 Hwy One,
Bodega Bay 94923



bodega-bay-church-bldg-2302Bodega Bay Church

1320 Bay View/Bodega Ave,
Bodega Bay 94923



yc-dressed-upstairsBodega Bay Harbour Yacht Club

Smith Bros. Road
Bodega Bay 94923



compassrosegarden08The Secret Gardens

Corner East Shore and Bay Flat Roads
Bodega Bay 94923



scville-img-weddingsSonoma Coast Villa

16702 Hwy One
Bodega 94922



oceancoveOcean Cove Store & Campground

23125 Hwy 1
Fort Ross, CA


occidentalinn-header-weddings-1900x855Inn at Occidental

3657 Church St.,
Occidental 95465



oceansongOcean Song Farm & Wilderness Center

19100 Coleman Valley Rd.
Occidental CA 95465

(707) 874-1526

saralees_11_largeParty, Tents & Event Rentals

115 Lystra Ct,
Santa Rosa CA 95403


Rio Nido Lodge at the Russian River

4444 Wood Rd
Guerneville CA 95466


"VFMLID=64394072"Sea Ranch Lodge

P.O. Box 44,
Sea Ranch CA 95497



scvlla-img-lobbySonoma Coast Villa

16702 Hwy One
Bodega CA 94922



Saint Teresa of Avila

17242 Bodega Highway
Bodega 94922


Saint Philip's Church

3730 Bohemian Highway
Occidental CA 95465

Call Mon-Fri (10am-12noon)



stateparksGetting Married in a California State Park



Valley Ford Hotel

14415 Coast Hwy 1
Valley Ford, CA


tth-straight-on-with-birch-e1384907546448Tomales Town Hall

27150 Shoreline Highway,
Tomales CA 94971



temple_mijWildwood Retreat Center

Old Cazadero Rd
Guerneville CA







Featuring: Bodega Bay Surf Shack, Candy and Kites, Bodega Heritage Gallery, Gourmet Au Bay, Bodega Bay Lodge

Featuring: Ren Brown Gallery, Bodega Bay Inn, Inn at the Tides, Bodega Bay and Beyond - Vacation Rentals, Sonoma Coast Living - Real Estate