Built on sand

Briefly last August, wonderful things appeared on Drakes Beach at Point Reyes: a dragon, a giant octopus—even a Star Wars’ AT-AT walker. Castles were also reported in the area. But by the next day, much of the magical scene had washed away.

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Far From Hoth: Star Wars’ AT-ATs made an appearance at the beach in Point Reyes in 2017.

This amazing menagerie of real and imaginary things was all conjured from sand by participants in Point Reyes National Seashore’s annual sand sculpture contest.

This truly pop-up sculpture garden draws contestants and visitors from around the Bay Area. The 37th annual contest takes place on Aug. 26, 2018.

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A Day at the Beach: Visitors meander up and down the beach, visiting each sand sculpture.

When we visited the event in 2017, the beach was bustling. The contest begins in the morning and lots of visitors make a day of it. We ended up arriving in the afternoon, when the contest was in full swing. We brought a picnic and set up a little “base camp” in a sheltered spot near the cliffs, so we could make the rounds of the sculptures and then come back for a snack now and then.

The sculptures were spread across a long stretch of the beach and we enjoyed taking our time wandering up and down the beach, checking out the various masterpieces as they emerged from the sand. Many sculptors adorned their creations with seaweed or cleverly repurposed plastic items that washed up on the beach (in fact, Best Use of Recycled Plastic is a contest category). The contest has a number of categories for groups, individuals and children.

Their sculptures ranged from the fanciful to the realistic.

And there was even a pun:

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Where’s Pamela Anderson? This sculpture was cleverly called ‘Bay Watch.’

If you visit

  • Parking can be a challenge, so if you do go a little later, as we did, be prepared to walk a little bit from where you parked to the beach.
  • In summertime, many Bay Area beaches can be unpredictable and the day we visited had both warm sunshine and chilly fog with strong gusty winds. As we always say, dress in layers.
  • If you’re looking to make a day of it, you can pack a picnic or pick up lunch in the nearby town of Point Reyes Station (or just grab a bite to eat in town).

Point Reyes National Seashore Annual Sand Sculpture Contest

Point Reyes Station (West Marin Chamber of Commerce)

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All in This Together: This piece was called ‘Unity Rainbow.’
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