Eighty miles below the Oregon border, the hamlet of Trinidad (pop. 360) with its picture-perfect headlands sits on a bluff overlooking the harbor at Trinidad Bay. It’s all about the sea here: Hike to the top of Trinidad Head to watch for whales, go tide-pooling at Indian Beach, or touch the starfish at Humboldt State University’s Marine Lab.
The ideal spot to soak up this beautifully rugged stretch of coastline is Trinidad Pier, the state’s northernmost oceanfront pier. Refurbished in 2012, it juts into Trinidad Harbor, a popular crabbing spot, and sits in the shadow of a massive rock crowned in greenery. Take a walk along the cement pier, making a pit stop at Seascape Restaurant for a hearty bowl of chowder and a local Humboldt County microbrew. You’ll also want to leave time to tour the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse. If you’re looking to hit the sand and surf, Trinidad State Beach is a well-known surfing spot while broad and sandy Moonstone Beach is favored by beachcombers.
History buffs will delight in the storied heritage of the region (and interactive opportunities to explore it). Trinidad was the site of the first human settlement on California’s north coast, the Yurok Indian village of Tsurai. This community was “discovered” by Spanish explorers in 1775, but it had probably existed for at least 1,000 years before. Check out the reconstructed Yurok Village at Patrick’s Point State Park (a 15-minute drive north), which is also a great spot for camping and hiking.
Just don’t leave town without paying a visit to Katy’s Smokehouse, where you can stock up on their famous smoked salmon and canned albacore.