Marina State Beach

Site Description

The sand dunes of Marina State Beach offer some of the best dune soaring on the entire California coast. Located between Monterey and Santa Cruz, it’s a bit of a hidden gem for paragliding sites. This public beach soaring site does not come for free. The Coastal Condors Hang Gliding and Paragliding club has been maintaining coastal free flight in the beautiful Monterey Bay since 1974. Become a member Costal Condors club and be sure to follow all the rules we have in place when flying at Marina. You should get a site intro from a local pilot before launching if new or unfamiliar with the area.  

Visit Coastal Condors Site Guide for more info  

Note: You are required to sign in at the Marina when you fly either Marina or Lake Court.

Directions and Access

From Highway 1 South, the exit for Marina State Beach is Reservation Road (turn right to reach the parking lot). The exit for Sand City (approximately six miles south of Marina) is Fremont Boulevard.  Take the Fremont Boulevard exit and go under the freeway.  Park on the street or in the nearby shopping center. Walk back under the freeway and follow the railroad tracks north, briefly, and then head toward the ocean.  The primary launch is at the north end of the flat area, about 100 yards north of the big dune.  You can also launch off the dune, but it’s often harder to get onto the main ridge (to the north) from there.   The launch is located here because it’s private property, with access, but it’s not the best spot to launch on the ridge.  The ridge is very low at this launch (~50’ MSL) and there’s a gap to the north of the launch that can be difficult to cross.  If you sink out, you can use the “re-launch bowl,” on the other side of the gap.  You can’t miss the bowl — the sand at the bottom is carved into sculptures.  

Snowy Plover Habitat

Be considerate while flying the site. The Snowy Plover is a tiny shorebird, just over six inches long. Plovers nest and forage for food on sandy beaches. You’ll see them along the water, finding small crustaceans and marine worms in the wet sand.  Unfortunately for the plovers, people and pets can step on their nests, interrupt their foraging and threatening their fledglings.

The plover has been on the National Audubon Society’s Blue List of declining species, since the list began in 1972, and in 1997, it was listed as a U.S. Endangered Species_.  In an attempt to protect the plovers, California State Parks has erected metal fences, approximately three feet high and 20-30 feet from the base of the dunes, to protect their nesting area during the spring and summer months.  These fences, mostly in the northern half of the Sand City/Marina ridge, are very hard to see from the air.  Do not walk, launch or land anywhere inside the fenced area.  If you accidentally find yourself in the fenced area, get out as soon as possible.  

Be especially careful at high tide.  Because the fenced area is so extensive, your landing options are significantly restricted at high tide.  Make sure you have safe and legal landing options at all times.  The most prudent flight plan would be to launch from Sand City (at the south end of the ridge), rather than Lake Court (at the north end of the ridge) during plover season.  Avoid the north end of the ridge, unless you’re certain that you won’t sink out.  (Sand City tends to be better this time of year, anyway.)   This entire area (except for the launch at Sand City) is a State Park and they take the plover habitat restoration seriously.  You will jeopardize our ability to fly this ridge if you don’t take it seriously. 

The site at Montana de Oro, in San Luis Obispo County was closed during this half the year for plover protection and significant fines are imposed for violations.   For more information about the snowy plover and its habitat, check out:   Cornell University’s Ornithology Website


Site Information & Resources

Location Lake Ct, Marina, CA 93933
Rating requirement P3+
Club N/A
Club Website N/A
Flying Type Ridge Soar
Optimal season Spring, Fall
Wind Direction W, WSW, WNW
Ideal Speed 10-15 mph
Min Speed 8-10 mph
Weather Links
  Private Wind talker for members
  Wind talker Public call 1-831-393-4042
Communication WOR Telegram Access Link
Number of Launches 1
Launch Sand Dune
LZ Beach
Local Training Schools N/A
Site info Links Marina Site Rules
  Fly Zephyr
Local Emergency # Primary call 911
  831.384.7575 (Marina)
  831.394.6811 (Sand City)

Location Map

Note: Location shown is of the general area of the site. Refer to official guides or local pilots get more details.

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