California's Best Beaches Logo

Van Damme Beach

Mendocino County

Van Damme
State Park


Main Attractions

Park Features


Hazards Include

Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.

Regulations (partial list)

  1. No dogs on beach.
  2. Dogs in campground must be attended and on leash.
  3. Underwater features protected.
  4. Alcohol and glass containers are not permitted outside campsites.

map of Van Damme Beach, Mendocino County, CA

Van Damme Beach

Van Damme Beach is most popular as a launching spot of diving and kayaking. The rocky points on either side of the beach offer protection from harsh waves and form a relatively calm expanse of water in the cove favored by abalone divers, beginning scuba divers, and kayakers who enjoy exploring the rugged shoreline.

The small cobble and sand beach makes a scenic place for visitors to spread their blankets or set up their beach chairs for a few hours of sunshine and refreshing sea breeze. The campgrounds and facilities of Van Damme State Park are within easy walking distance, immediately across the highway.

Around the Park

Little River flows through Van Damme State Park and spills into the ocean at the beach. The river provides habitat for steelhead, coho salmon, sculptin and little stickleback. The riparian plant community at Van Damme State Park includes willow, red alder, grand fir and western hemlock. Sitka spruce finds its southernmost limit in the park.

A wide variety of birds are found along the shore and up the Little River canyon. Among them are Swainson's thrush, kingfishers, yellow warblers, and northern spotted owls.

Van Damme Beach, Mendocino County, CA

Spring Ranch Property

The Spring Ranch Property roughly spreads across the headlands south of Chapman Road and north of Headlands Drive. The old ranch property, which was acquired by the state in 1996, is now part of Van Damme State Park. Largely undeveloped, the Spring Ranch land features a number of trails which can be accessed from Highway 1.

Local residents in conjunction with the Mendocino Area Parks Association and the California State Parks are working to stabilize and preserve the old barns on the property.

Van Damme
State Marine Conservation Area

The Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area covers the waters off Van Damme Beach. Special regulations govern marine conservation areas. For the Van Damme Area the regulations permit most kinds of commercial and recreational fishing in accordance with current regulations. Take of bull kelp and giant kelp is prohibited.

Several shallow- water reefs are easily accessible either by swimming from shore or using small watercraft launched from Van Damme Beach. The cove at Van Damme Beach is one of the most popular destinations in the state for recreational abalone diving and shore-picking. It is often chosen as the site for dive-club organized spearfishing competitions.

Books of Local Interest

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at
CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

California's Best Beaches

Chicago Park Web Design

Every effort is made to provide accurate and up to date information, but we cannot be responsible for errors or for changes that may have occurred since publication. Always confirm information with the service provider and check for any recent changes that may have been made. Also, check with lifeguards that conditions at the beach are safe for your planned activities.

The map displayed above is for illustrative purposes only. California's Best Beaches website makes no warranties regarding the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of any of its maps. The information provided on this website is done so without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.