Bodega Bay
Location of Bodega Bay and Bodega Harbor
Bodega Bay is located in California
Bodega Bay
Bodega Bay is located in the United States
Bodega Bay
Nearest cityBodega Bay, California
Area3,170 acres (1,280 ha)
NRHP reference No.73000461[1]
CHISL No.833[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 18, 1973
Designated CHISLNovember 3, 1969

Bodega Bay (Spanish: Bahía Bodega) is a shallow, rocky inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the coast of northern California in the United States. It is approximately 5 mi (8 km) across and is located approximately 40 mi (60 km) northwest of San Francisco and 20 mi (32 km) west of Santa Rosa. The bay straddles the boundary between Sonoma County to the north and Marin County to the south. The bay is a marine habitat used for navigation, recreation (including swimming and surfing, especially by the Dillon Beach area), and commercial and sport fishing (including shellfish harvesting).[3]

Bodega Bay is protected on its north end from the Pacific Ocean by Bodega Head, which shelters the small Bodega Harbor and is separated from the main bay by a jetty. The San Andreas Fault runs parallel to the coastline and bisects Bodega Head, which lies on the Pacific Plate; the town is on the North American Plate. The village of Bodega Bay sits on the east side of Bodega Harbor. The bay connects on its south end to the mouth of Tomales Bay.

Streams flowing into Bodega Bay include the Estero de San Antonio and the Americano Creek. Accessible beaches on Bodega Bay include Doran Regional Park (on the jetty) and Pinnacle Gulch.[4] Apart from the harbor, all of Bodega Bay lies within the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.


Coast Miwok Native Americans lived on the shores of Bodega Bay. Documented village names include: Helapattai, Hime-takala, Ho-takala, and Tokau.[5] There is speculation that Bodega Bay may have been Sir Francis Drake's Nova Albion landing location on the California coast.[6]

Bodega Bay is named after Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, who explored the area in 1775.
Bodega Bay viewed from Dillon Beach.

Bodega Bay was first charted by Europeans in 1775 by the Spanish Peruvian explorer Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra of the Spanish Navy. The bay that was originally named for him was not present day Bodega Bay, but Tomales Bay. His ship, the Sonora, anchored in the lee of Tomales Point on October 3, 1775, departing the next day. Bodega y Quadra named Tomales Bay Puerto de la Bodega. "There is no evidence in the journal or on the charts that Bodega y Quadra ever saw the entrance to [present day] Bodega Harbor or knew of the lagoon to the north".[7] Bodega y Quadra planned to return, but was not able to. Later, as commandant of the naval base at San Blas, New Spain, Bodega y Quadra sent other expeditions to Bodega Bay with the intention of establishing a colony and mission there. It was decided, however, that the location was not ideal.[8]

The first Russians to see Bodega Bay were the Russian-American Company (RAC) supervisors of the Aleut hunting parties aboard the American maritime fur trade sea otter hunting ship Peacock in 1807. Timofei Nikitich Tarakanov[9] of the RAC returned to Novo Arkhangelsk, Alaska, and reported the location to Alexander Andreyevich Baranov, the chief administrator of the RAC. Baranov instructed his assistant Ivan Kuskov to survey the area for a settlement. Kuskov, the Commerce Counselor of the RAC sailing in the Kodiak (also transliterated as Kadiak and Kad'iak), entered Bodega Bay on January 8, 1809. Temporary buildings were erected to house the ship's complement of 190 crew (130 native Alaskan males, 20 native females, and 40 Russians).[10]

The Kodiak remained in Bodega Bay until October, 1809, returning to Alaska with more than 2,000 sea otter pelts.[10] Kuskov returned to Novo Arkhangelsk, reporting abundant fur bearing mammals, fish, timber and tillable lands. Baranov instructed Kuskov to return and establish a permanent settlement in the area. In 1811, Kuskov returned, this time aboard the Chirikov, but found fewer otter in Bodega Bay (1,160 otter skins were taken). Three American ships were also operating in the area from a base in Drake's Bay, sending hunters into San Francisco Bay and the surrounding bays.[10]

Kuskov sailed the brig Chirikov back to present day Bodega Harbor on March 15, 1812.[7] Kuskov named it in honor of the Russian Minister of Commerce, Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev.[11] During 1812 Kuskov had Fort Ross built.[12] Bodega Bay, located about 20 mi (32 km) south, served as the primary port for Fort Ross.[13] RAC ships often stopped at Bodega Bay for repairs, such as the Il'mena, which was laid up at Bodega Bay for repairs from September 1815 to April 1816.[14]

Russian chart of Fort Ross to Bodega Bay, 1817-18. Bodega Harbor and Bay appear in the upper right.

Zaliv Rumyantsev (Rumyantsev Bay, also transliterated "Rumiantsov" and "Rumiantsev") appears on the earliest Russian charts of Bodega Bay (1817–1819) identifying present day Bodega Bay and Bodega Harbor. Bodega Head was named Mouis Rumyantsev (Point Rumyantsev). Tomales Point was named Point Great Bodega and Tomales Bay Great Bodega Bay, more or less conforming to Bodega y Quadra's original naming.

On his return trip, Kuskov found the otter population scarce in Bodega Bay, and the harbor being frequented by numerous American and British otter-hunting expeditions. After exploring the area, they ended up selecting a place 15 mi (24 km) north that the native Kashaya Pomo people called Mad shui nui or Metini. Metini, the seasonal home of the native Kashaya Pomo people, had a modest anchorage and abundant natural resources and would become the Russian settlement of Fort Ross.[15]

By 1817, sea otters in this area were practically eliminated by international over-hunting.[16] Zaliv Rumyantsev continued to be the main entrepôt for the Russian Colony until January 1842, and the earliest European structures built at Bodega Bay were the RAC wharf, warehouse, and barracks.

After the Mexican–American War and the 1848 Mexican Cession Bodega Bay became United States territory. It remained an active harbor for shipping lumber until the 1870s, when the North Pacific Coast Railroad was built, bypassing the coast in favor of a more inland route.[17]

A plan by Pacific Gas & Electric to build a nuclear power plant received significant negative attention from local citizens, beginning in 1958. By 1964, the plans for the plant were abandoned.[18][19]

Bodega Bay was the setting for the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds starring Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette.[20]

In October, 2017, Bodega Bay, on the northwest edge of Sonoma County, served as a site of refuge and supply depot for evacuees who are escaping from a historic, fast-moving, destructive fire in northern California, especially residents from that area. People from Santa Rosa and other regions affected by the raging wildfire started pouring in not long after the blazes started.[21][22]

Marine protected areas near Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay, photographed on July 16th, 2007.

Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.

See also

38°16′25″N 123°00′22″W / 38.27361°N 123.00611°W / 38.27361; -123.00611[23]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Bodega Bay and Harbor". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  3. ^ State of California Water Quality Control Plan North Coastal Basin 1B July 1975 p.13
  4. ^ "Sonoma County Regional Parks". Archived from the original on March 4, 2008.
  5. ^ "Access Genealogy: Miwok Indian Tribe". July 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "Drake Latitudes on the Coast of California in 1579". Archived from the original on January 16, 2008. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Clinton R. Edwards, Pacific Historical Review, 1964 vol.33: Wandering Toponyms:Puerto de la Bodega and Bodega Bay
  8. ^ Tovell, Freeman M. (2009). At the Far Reaches of Empire. Vancouver: UBC Press. pp. 311–312. ISBN 9780774858366. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  9. ^ Timofei Nikitich Tarakanov's name has often been misinterpreted as Timofei Osipovich Tarakanov, Timofei Vasilii Tarakanov, or Timofei Vasiliij Tarakanov, but his true patronymic "middle name" was Nikitich, as found in Russian records discovered in 2010. See: Morris, Susan L.; Farris, Glenn J.; Schwartz, Steven J.; Wender, Irina Vladi L.; Dralyuk, Boris (2014). "Murder, Massacre, and Mayhem on the California Coast, 1814-1815: Newly Translated Russian American Company Documents Reveal Company Concern Over Violent Clashes" (PDF). Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. Malki Museum Press. 34 (1): 81–100. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Adele Ogden, The California sea otter trade, 1784-1848, pg.58
  11. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft; Alfred Bates; Ivan Petroff; William Nemos (1887). History of Alaska: 1730-1885. San Francisco, California: A. L. Bancroft & company. p. 482. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  12. ^ "Outpost of an Empire". Fort Ross Conservancy. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  13. ^ Lightfoot, Kent G.; Wake, Thomas A.; Schiff, Ann M. (Summer 1993). "Native Responses to the Russian Mercantile Colony of Fort Ross, Northern California". Journal of Field Archaeology. 20 (2): 159–175. JSTOR 529951. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  14. ^ Pierce, Richard A. (1965). Russia's Hawaiian Adventure, 1815-1817. University of California Press. pp. 235–236. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  15. ^ Thompson, R. A. (1896). The Russian Settlement in California Known as Fort Ross, Founded 1812...Abandoned 1841: Why They Came and Why They Left. Santa Rosa, California: Sonoma Democrat Publishing Company. p. 3. ISBN 0-559-89342-6. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
  16. ^ Suzanne Stewart & Adrian Praetzellis (November 2003). Archeological Research Issues for the Point Reyes National Seashore - Golden Gate National Recreation Area (PDF) (Report). Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University. p. 335. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  17. ^ "Salmon Creek Estuary: Study Results and Enhancement Recommendations" (PDF). 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 15, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
  18. ^ Paula Garb. Critical Masses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958-1978 (book review) Journal of Political Ecology, Vol 6, 1999.
  19. ^ Office of Technology Assessment. (1984). Public Attitudes Toward Nuclear Power p. 231.
  20. ^ "IMDb: Filming locations for The Birds". IMDb.
  21. ^ Solnit, Rebecca (October 22, 2017). "A Fire-Devastated Northern California Takes Care of Its Own". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  22. ^ "Death toll rises to 40 as firefighters continue to battle massive California wildfires". Los Angeles Times. October 15, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  23. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Bodega Bay