When visiting Point Reyes National Seashore, one can easily get lost in viewing the spectacular coastal landscapes, diverse habitats, historical landmarks, the vast amount of fauna and flora, various cultures and the free roaming wildlife.
It’s in this awestruck bewilderment, that sites like the Point Reyes Shipwreck can easily be overlooked or even unknown to visitors.
Point Reyes has a long and horrifying history of shipwrecks. Until the late 19th century, the Point Reyes Headlands was a burial ground for ships and mariners. This region was often thought of as the place where ships went to die. It wasn’t until 1870, when the Point Reyes Lighthouse became operational with a fog signal to help mariners safely navigate the waters. Although there were still shipwrecks, the number of them greatly decreased. The NPS has a list of Point Reyes shipwrecks from 1849 to 1940 if any of you are interested.
This shipwreck in Inverness is more of a grounding rather than a wreck. Additionally, this shipwreck is in the Tomales Bay and not out on the Pacific Ocean, which is why the boat has survived after all of these years. With the growing popularity of tourist and travel websites, this shipwreck has become an increasingly popular tourist attraction among those visiting the Point Reyes National Seashore.
S.S. Point Reyes
Over the years, this boat has taken on many names: the Point Reyes Shipwreck, the Inverness Shipwreck, the Tomales Bay Shipwreck and the S.S. Point Reyes. And for those of you cool enough to guess it, the S.S. Point Reyes is a clear reference to the fictional S.S. Minnow from the popular TV show Gilligan’s Island.
Not much information can be found on this fishing boat. I would guess that the locals prefer to keep it this way because the mystery of it keeps visitors coming back. Additionally, the location of the boat (in the Tomales Bay just behind the town of Inverness) provides some wonderful photographic opportunities.
There’s a small little sign when first walking out to the boat that warns of keeping on the trail. Once you get close to the boat, you will see why it’s a good idea to stay off the boat too. It doesn’t look stable and there are holes within the boat from the deteriorating wood. However, it’s the deterioration that adds to the overall appeal of the shipwreck scene.
Bring your cameras, because this is a great spot for shutterbugs.
The shipwreck is located in the small town of Inverness behind the shopping market, across the street from the post office. On Yelp, the address is listed as 12781 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness, CA, 94937. From Point Reyes Station or from the Bear Valley Visitor’s Center, you will take Sir Francis Drake Blvd. north toward Inverness and Tomales Bay. Keep an eye out on the right side of the road as you will see the boat before seeing the shopping market.
Pull into the market’s parking lot and head to the back near the large logs and picnic benches. There’s a small path to the boat.
When my kids and I first arrived to the location, it seemed rather odd that a shipwreck would be right behind a shopping market. But, once out by the boat, your imagination runs wild with ideas of how this fishing boat was grounded and you easily forget that there’s a small town nearby.
It takes probably two minutes to walk from the parking lot to the boat. However, depending on the season, the area can be really muddy. There’s a little stream of water that passes in front of the boat and out to the bay. For those who don’t want to walk through the water or the mud, there’s a makeshift crossing near the junkyard looking area to the left.
Both of my kids and I really enjoyed this shipwreck. We spent most of the morning and afternoon visiting the Point Reyes Lighthouse and stopped at the shipwreck on the way back. Bought some food at the market and had an impromptu lunch at the picnic benches near the boat.
Make sure to add this shipwreck to your Point Reyes National Seashore itinerary. It’s a cool excursion for kids of all ages.