The coastal dunes along our south Monterey Bay form a narrow edge between former dunes where we live and the bay. This strip of land is steadily changing from wind and wave forces. During especially strong winter storms, this change can be quite obvious along the foredune. Beyond the storm-wave run-up area the rate of change is less perceptible. The reason for this is the native plant cover that has evolved with and adapted to these “shifting” sands. This living blanket insulates the dunes from the constant erosional force of wind.

These dunes are like a living fabric interwoven with a diversity of strands of life. If one of these strands is allowed to deteriorate, then others weaken and soon the fabric can begin to unravel. Like a fabric, these dunes can be mended, but only if everyone agrees to help. The Park District is restoring endemic coastal dune/strand habitat to the site in an effort to stabilize the exposed dunes and increase wildlife habitat value. Please do your part by staying on the designated path to the beach and respecting restoration and habitat closure signs. Together we can bring these dunes back to their natural beauty and balance.


Though no evidence exists to say that the site was explicitly used by the Ohlone people prior to European contact, it is safe to say that these dunes, in general, were used extensively by them. What impacts may have occurred would have most likely been limited to foot paths. It wasn’t until after WWII that the dunes began to see heavy use.

In 1983, the site of Marina Dunes Preserve was just an abandoned sand mining site with a lot of off-road vehicle damage. A proposal to convert these dunes into a large-scale resort hotel failed and the opportunity to purchase the property for coastal public access was realized. This property was purchased by the District in 1988 to enhance and protect public access to the Monterey Bay seashore and restore native vegetation to the site for more natural habitat conditions. The District’s first act was to remove the old sand processing plant. The foundations can still be seen on the foredune.

Since 1990, the District has slowly and steadily been restoring the area. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and State Seashore are major attractions for visitors to this area. Over 3 million tourists visit the bay’s state beaches every year. Local visitors enjoy the property primarily as an accessway to the beach. Access follows the old sand mining roadway.


MPRPD Ordinances

Marina Dunes is open to the public for all to enjoy, with no access permit needed to enter the park.

Take Highway 1 to Reservation Road exit (west), turn right at Dunes Drive, cul-de-sac at end of road.

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