What To Expect At California’s Shark Fin Cove

Post Summary: Shark Fin Cove in California, directions, and what to expect on your visit.

The California Coast. Full of unexpected surprises, hidden beaches, and gorgeous sunsets.

I’m happy to report that this post is about all of those things! A few weeks ago, Berty and I got to experience it for ourselves. We drove down to Big Sur and up the California Coast’s Highway 1 during a fun week in San Francisco.

During the trip, we crossed paths with some fellow explorers who told us about a place we should check out called Shark Fin Cove.

After a quick google search, we knew we had to find this place!!

In this post, we’re telling you why Shark Fin Cove has to be an essential stop on your next Pacific Coast Highway road trip!

Emily at Shark Fin Cove Beach

What To Expect at Shark Fin Cove in Davenport, California

Quick Details About Shark Fin Cove:

  • Location: Davenport, California. This small town is south of San Francisco and north of Santa Cruz.
  • Beach access is located directly off Highway 1.
  • There is no labeled parking lot, but rather a car pull out which is easy to miss if you aren’t looking!
  • This place is popular for photographers during sunset. Come on a weekday to get a smaller crowd if that’s your thing!

Make It A Road Trip!

Road trips are something Berty and I love to do! We’ve been on the California Coast a handful of times and have plenty of road trip advice articles.



The “parking lot” to Shark Fin Cove is easy to miss if you aren’t looking (or honestly, even if you are). There is no sign for the beach. Look for a dirt pull out for cars on the coastal side of Highway 1 before reaching the town of Davenport. The parking lot is free, but make sure to lock your car and don’t leave any valuables.

From the parking lot, we walked not even 2 minutes before crossing some train tracks and emerging to the edge of the cliffs. Pictured below, you can see that there is a large area on either side for walking and seeing the cove from a ton of perspectives. Berty and I found a short trail that gave us an unobstructed view of the cove below!

Read More: Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List

Shark Fin Cove Overlook by The Mandagies
Emily Hair at Shark Fin Cove Overlook
Emily at Shark Fin Cove Overlook
Berty at Shark Fin Cove Overlook
Berty standing above Shark Fin Cove California
Coastal Cliffs Shark Fin Cove California


After a while on the overlooking cliffs, we climbed down into Shark Fin Cove.

The trail is rocky and steep, but manageable. It was nice weather so we didn’t have a problem going up or down the trail, but take extra caution if you come when it’s raining.

Once down in the cove, it felt like we had our own little secret beach! The sun was shining low in the sky, and it filled the beach with golden light.

Berty and I spent some time shooting pictures and running around in the sand.

I was surprised that even barefoot, it was a bearable temperature – though the water was ice cold!

Emily on Shark Fin Cove Beach
Emily on Shark Fin Cove Beach California
Emily standing at Shark Fin Cove Beach California
Emily standing at Shark Fin Cove Beach California
Shark Fin Cove Beach California


Shark Fin Cove has a natural cave and carved-out beach. During high tide, the waves crash and carve out this hole. It may look enticing to go inside and explore, but take caution and DO NOT GO INSIDE.

We actively saw the rock crumble from the arch, fall down into the hole, and get sucked away by the powerful waves. If you were standing under it when this happens, you would get seriously injured!

Shark Fin Cove Natural Rock Cave California
Shark Fin Cove Beach California

On the way back up the cove, I put back on my rain boots and coat for the climb up.

It was fun to run around on the beach barefoot, but those weren’t ideal conditions for the rocky ascent back up the trail. Nice look, huh?

Read More: 5 Pieces of Gear You Need To Explore The Coast

Camping Nearby Shark Fin Cove

If you’re looking to camp near Shark Fin Cove, we have a few tricks on how to find free camping!

The new Free Camping Collection from Dyrt PRO is our favorite way to find free camping.

This year, The Dyrt launched their Free Camping Collection of 5000 drive-in accessible locations that include free campgrounds and free dispersed sites.

Plus, the Free Camping Collection shows you boundaries of free dispersed camping areas on a map and tells you when a camping permit is required (and if so how to get one).

Try the PRO Free Camping Collection for free, no strings attached — use our code “mandagies” to get 30 days free.


Shark Fin Cove in California is a great location for sunset watching, or simply playing on the beach.

Berty and I count ourselves lucky because we didn’t run into any crowds like I was expecting. Though, I realized that we came during a weekday, in the middle of January.

I would love to return in the peak of summer season to see what kind of different experience we would have!

If you are simply driving through the Pacific Coast Highway or finding all the best stops on a road trip, this place is definitely worth checking out.

I would even go as far as to bring a picnic or pack a lunch and blanket next time, to enjoy a meal on the beach!

Have you explored Shark Fin Cove? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below!


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Discover more California inspiration on our Pacific Coast Road Trip board on Pinterest!


    1. Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much! I’m so proud of you for starting your own blog! You keep up the good work too!