Top 10 secret coastal escapes

Spectacular one-day outings to celebrate the greenest, breeziest month


Our favorite beach boardwalk Waves crash on offshore sea stacks, sea otters lounge in the kelp beds, and bald eagles careen overhead and perch high in the brooding Sitka spruce ― it's the remote wilderness beach at Olympic National Park. To get here you've hiked 3 miles from Lake Ozette through the dripping temperate rain forest. So why aren't your shoes soggy? Trails to both Sand Point and Cape Alava follow a wonderful wooden boardwalk nearly the entire way. $15 per vehicle;; 360/565-3100. -B.H.


Hidden pocket beaches The trio of tiny beaches at Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach offer retreats to secluded coves that most people miss. There's a good reason: All three are tucked beneath Pacific Coast Highway (State 1), so drivers never even see them. That also means that these evocatively named beaches ― El Matador, La Piedra, and El Pescador ― require steep walks down and, of course, back up the bluffs. If you visit just one beach, the sea stacks at El Matador are hard to beat. $4 per vehicle;; 818/880-0350. -M.J.


Soaring hang gliders Watch the pros launch from the top of Mt. Tamalpais and land 2,000 feet below on Stinson Beach. It's hard not to gasp each time a flyer runs downhill to leap off the cliff's edge. "It's incredibly beautiful up there," says San Francisco Hang Gliding Center owner Pat Denevan, "and just so silent." If watching makes you want to soar too, sign up for a tandem lesson. Your instructor will manage the tricky parts ― takeoff and landing ― and you can just, uh, hang out. Tandem lesson from $295, reservations required; gliders launch from W. Ridgecrest Blvd., 1/2 to 1 mile west of Pantoll Rd.;; 510/528-2300. -Lisa Taggart


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