Pinwheel Waves, Big River Beach, and the Sandbar

Pinwheel Wave Video

Big River meets the mighty Pacific Ocean right in front of our eyes at the Alegria Inn. The course of the water and the shape of the sandbar is always changing on the beach below us. This winter we had some exciting storms which pushed more sand into the entrance to Big River, forming the sand bar that you can see in the photo, and tossing plenty of driftwood up on the beach.

Lately, we have been getting the tide conditions that create what we call pinwheel waves over the sandbar. The still photo was taken a bit earlier in the day as the tide was coming in. The video shows the sandbar and beach after the tide has come in a bit further. Pinwheel waves occur as the water of a wave encounters the shallower portion of the sandbar, and the water breaks into a small white water wave, making it appear that the waves are making a u-turn around the sand bar.

Guests at Alegria could easily spend plenty of quality time on their room deck, in our garden, on the main deck, or on our beach path swing watching the tide come in and out, creating these waves. Or take our private path down and experience the beach and waves up close. Do some beach combing and have a picnic lunch. Bring your surf kayak, surfboard or stand-up paddle board and hit the water. Or go across the river to Catch a Canoe and Bicycles Too! and rent a kayak or canoe and go up Big River. Or hike or bike up the old logging road on the our side of the river and experience California’s longest undeveloped estuary, Big River State Estuary.

There is so much to do from the Alegria Inn without ever having to get in your car. Leave it parked in our off-street parking lot and don’t get back in it until you have to reluctantly leave Mendocino and Alegria Inn.