New warning sign at Montara Beach
Two weeks ago a five year old girl and her mother drowned at Montara Beach. Today a new sign appeared at the foot of the stairs leading down from the old Charthouse–the primary access point for the beach–warning of large and dangerous waves and advising that the water is unsafe to swim or wade in.
That’s good advice, the same advice that locals offered to me when I first moved here.
It is likely that the victims of the tragedy two weeks ago used the Charthouse stairs to reach the beach since there were young children in the group and the other access paths are difficult. There were no warning signs on the Charthouse stairs prior to today.
View of new sign from top of stairs
Montara Beach has three other access points aside from the stairs.
Many people parking on the south lot do not seem to realize that the stairs are just a few feet to the north. They make their way gingerly down the steep dirt and rock incline, often carrying a surprising amount of gear. That path has an older, existing sign, identical to the new one.
Old sign on alternative path from south parking lot
The third access point is reached by following the bluff-edge trail from the Charthouse parking lot northwards. This path is little used and there are no warning signs along it.
The final access path to the beach is reached by the dirt parking lot at the north end of the beach. This parking lot is lightly used during the week but is often full on weekends. At the top of the wooden stairs leading to the beach are two signs that appear to be of recent vintage–perhaps a few years old. These small signs warn of rip currents and the steep beach, offering advice on how to swim out of a rip current and how to avoid being caught by waves on the beach.
Warning signs at north parking lot
Detail of rip tide sign at the north parking lot
Detail of steep beach sign at the north parking lot
Photos by Darin Boville