Where and When to See King Tides Along the Sonoma Coast

Take in winter’s drama from a safe distance with these tips.

The Sonoma Coast will experience some of the biggest tidal swings of the year in December and mid-January.

King tides typically occur at a new or full moon and when the moon is closest to the earth, and they cause even greater impact when they coincide with big winter storms. They’re of interest to climate researchers because they can give a glimpse of how the coast may be impacted as sea levels rise.

Waves crash into Duncan's Landing near Wright's Beach on the Sonoma Coast, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. With flood advisories dropped, a high surf advisory remains in effect throughout Wednesday. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2022
Waves crash into Duncan’s Landing near Wright’s Beach on the Sonoma Coast, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022.  (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Post up on the cliffs above Goat Rock or along the Kortum Trail to take in winter’s drama from a safe distance. Check tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov for tide tables.

Local conservation group Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods will offer docent-led king tide interpretive events along the coast in January and February (see stewardscr.org for information). Dec. 13 and Dec. 24, Jan. 11.

When visiting the coast, be aware of weather and water conditions and heed warnings. Never turn your back to the ocean and stay much further back from the water than you might think is necessary.

“Sneaker waves can sweep people and pets into the sea from rocks, jetties, and beaches as well as move large objects such as logs, crushing anyone caught underneath,” according to the National Weather Service.